How to Remotely Access a PC From Your Phone

Robert_Stark
edited August 2023 in PC Tech

In a work meeting or class, and realize the file you desperately need is on your home computer? No need to panic; your phone can remotely rescue you and give you control over your computer. We'll show you how to turn your smartphone into a remote control for your computer.

What is remote access for your PC via your phone? 

Remote access via your phone creates a virtual connection to your computer, no matter where you are. It allows you to connect to your PC using your smartphone to access files, run apps, print files, and even manage settings as if sitting right in front of it.

Whether you've left an important document on your desktop or work with applications, remote access turns your phone into a handy control center for your computer. It's not just a convenience; it's a powerful tool that can save the day when you're miles away from your machine.

There are 2 options for remote desktop access we'll explore:

  • Microsoft Remote Desktop 
  • Chrome Remote Desktop

Microsoft Remote Desktop 

With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to your PC and use and control desktops and apps your admin has made available. Whether working across multiple computers on the same network or connecting via VPNs, this feature ensures that your digital workspace is always within reach.

However, there are some prerequisites to keep in mind. The computer you want to access must be running Windows 10 or 11 Pro or Enterprise editions, as remote access is not supported in the Home versions of these operating systems.

Ready to bridge the gap between your devices? Setting up remote access is the first step, and the process is similar for Windows 10 and 11. Let's dive into how you can turn your smartphone or another computer into a remote control for your PC.

A. Set Up Microsoft Remote Desktop in Windows 11 Pro or Enterprise. 

  1. Go to Settings > System > Remote Desktop on the computer you want remote access to. 
  2. Switch on Remote Desktop
  3. Click the down arrow next to the Remote Desktop switch. 
  4. Check the box for Require devices to use Network Level Authentication to connect.

Set Up User Access (Optional): 

  1. If you want to give remote access to a different account than your Microsoft Account, click the Remote Desktop user’s link. 
  2. Click Add
  3. Enter the username for the account you want to use.

B. Set Up Microsoft Remote Desktop in Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise. 

 Enable Remote Desktop

  1. Go to Settings > System > Remote Desktop on the computer you wish to access. 
  2. Toggle the switch for Enable Remote Desktop
  3. By default, options for Keep your PC awake for connections when it is plugged in and Make my PC discoverable on private networks to enable automatic connection from a remote device are enabled. You can click the corresponding Show settings link to modify these settings, but turned on is usually best.

Configure Network Level Authentication

  1. Click the Advanced settings link. 
  2. Check the box for Require devices to use Network Level Authentication to connect. This option provides extra protection to stop malicious users.

Ignore External Connections (Optional): 

If connecting via VPN or secure gateway: 

  1. Ignore the section for External connections
  2. The Remote Desktop port section shows the default port to listen for and accept a remote connection.

Set Up User Access (Optional): 

By default, administrative accounts on the remote PC have access. Return to the previous screen and note the PC's name for mobile device connection.

To give remote access to a different user account: 

  1. Click the link for Select users that can remotely access this PC at the bottom. 
  2. Click Add
  3. Enter the username for the account you want to use.

These steps will enable remote access on your Windows 11 computer, allowing you to control it from your phone or another device. The next step is to download the app for iOS or Android devices.

1. Set Up Remote Access for iPhone or iPad. 

Download and Install the App

  1. Download the Remote Desktop Mobile app from Apple's App Store. 
  2. Open the app, tap the plus (+) button, and choose Add PC.

Add a PC

  1. Enter the computer name or IP address in the PC Name field. 
  2. Type the account name in the User Account field or set it to Ask When Required
  3. Type a word in the Friendly Name field to add an easier-to-remember label. 
  4. Leave Admin Mode off, as it will connect you to a console session to manage a Windows server. 
  5. Configure Swap Mouse Buttons, which switch the left and right mouse buttons if needed.

Configure Connection

  1. Enable Gateway if required by your organization. 
  2. In Device & Audio Redirection, enable features like sound, clipboard, microphone, camera, and remote storage. 
  3. Tap Save.

Make the Connection

  1. Tap the icon for the computer you want to access. 
  2. Enable Don't ask me again for connections to this computer. 
  3. Tap Accept.

You're Now Connected

  • Control apps, windows and manage the desktop. 
  • Use the toolbar to zoom, display the keyboard, or switch connections. 
  • View all remote links, select a connection, or switch modes. 
  • Tap the X button to sever a connection or Disconnect All PCs to end all sessions.

These steps provide a clear guide to setting up and using Microsoft Remote Desktop on an iPhone or iPad, allowing for seamless control of a remote computer.

2. Set Up Remote Access from an Android Device. 

Download and Install the App

  1. Download the Remote Desktop app from Google Play. 
  2. Launch the app, tap the plus (+) icon, and choose Add PC.

Add a PC

  1. If near the remote computer, the app will scan for it. 
  2. If detected, the name will appear; otherwise, tap Add Manually and enter the computer name or IP address. 

Choose PC and User Account

  1. For User Account, tap Ask when required or Add user account and enter the username. 
  2. Add a friendly name if desired.

 Configure Connection

  1. Leave Admin mode and Swap mouse buttons off unless needed. 
  2. Add the gateway option if your company uses a Remote Desktop Gateway. 
  3. Opt to play sound from the remote PC on your device. 
  4. Adjust other options as needed or leave them off. 
  5. Click Connect
  6. Enter your password if a message appears about an unverified certificate, and tap Connect.

You're Now Connected

  1. Use the toolbar to zoom, display the onscreen keyboard, or view other remote sessions. 
  2. Tap the Home button to return to the app's home screen. 
  3. Hit the Mouse Pointer icon to display a mouse pointer. 
  4. Tap the X in the thumbnail window to disconnect the current remote session.

Chrome Remote Desktop 

Google Chrome Remote Desktop is another option to remotely access files and applications. This free service makes accessing what you need on your computer from your phone easy.

You'll only have to add the Remote Desktop extension to your computer to make it accessible from another device, and all remote desktop sessions are fully encrypted.

You can use Google Chrome Remote Desktop if you need to sign in to your personal or work computer from another location, and you can also use it to sign into someone else's computer. This can be helpful if you're the family computer genius and must fix an issue plaguing someone else.

You can use the Chrome browser and the Remote Desktop extension. And you can download the Chrome Remote Desktop app for iOS or Android

1. Set up Chrome Remote Desktop on your Computer. 

Want to access your Windows 10 or 11 computer remotely? Chrome Remote Desktop makes it simple. Here's how:

  1. On your computer, launch Chrome
  2. Enter remotedesktop.google.com/access in the address bar. 
  3. Under Set up Remote Access, click Download
  4. Follow the onscreen directions to download and install Chrome Remote Desktop.

You may need to enter your computer password to grant Chrome Remote Desktop access. You might also be prompted to change security settings in Preferences.

2. Set Up Remote Access from Your iOS Device. 

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, install the Chrome Remote Desktop app. 
  2. In the app, tap the Menu Icon > Remote Access
  3. Tap the computer you want to access from the list. If a computer is dimmed, it's offline or unavailable. 
  4. Enter the PIN. 
  5. To continue, tap the Arrow
  6. Control the computer with a virtual trackpad. You can choose a different input mode.

3. Set Up Remote Access from Your Android Device. 

  1. Download and install the Chrome Remote Desktop app on your Android device. 
  2. Tap the Menu Icon > Remote Access
  3. Choose the computer you wish to access from the list. Note: If the computer appears dimmed, it's offline or unavailable. 
  4. Enter the computer's PIN. 
  5. Tap the Arrow to proceed. 
  6. Control the computer with a virtual trackpad. You can choose a different input mode.

Safety and Security for Remote Access 

Your system could be vulnerable to malicious attacks or data breaches without proper computer security. Protecting your remote access points and keeping your data safe is crucial. Here are three tips:

Strong Authentication

  • Utilize solid passwords and PINs. 
  • Consider two-factor authentication for an extra layer of security.

Firewalls and VPNs

  • Use firewalls to control and monitor remote access. 
  • Use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to create secure connections over the internet. 

Regular Updates

  • Keep the remote access software, your device, and Windows up to date with the latest security patches.

Whether you're using Microsoft Remote Desktop or Chrome Remote Desktop, the power to control your PC from your phone or tablet is at your fingertips. Embrace the freedom and flexibility that remote access provides, and never find yourself stranded without essential files or apps again.

By following the guidelines and understanding the importance of security, you can bridge the gap between your devices, ensuring that essential files and apps are always within reach, no matter where you are. 

Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.

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