Like many other IT geeks, I am often called upon to remotely take control of a machine and save its user from some horrible manifestation of technology. Because this isn’t my work (I don’t do this “for a living”), my free tool of choice is TeamViewer. It’s free for non-commercial use, quick, and simple to use even for those who aren’t computer savvy. But when I heard that Google had developed something called Chrome Remote Desktop, it sparked my interest, so I decided to give it a go. This add-on is intriguing since it is configured inside Chrome, yet it can be used to remotely manage the whole machine, not just the Chrome session.
Remote Desktop is a massive download for a Chrome add-on – it’s a 20MB download, so if you don’t have a fast connection, it might take a minute or two. In contrast, the most recent version of TeamViewer is 4MB, meaning Chrome Remote Desktop is five times as large. Once downloaded, the add-on displays as a new button on your New Tab page. When you click this button, you’ll be sent to a slightly alarming “additional permission” authorization screen. Not a significant concern for experienced users, but if you’re walking someone through the setup procedure over the phone, this might be unpleasant. You only need to press the Continue button:
… and then the allow access button:
That’s the end of it. You may now remotely operate the computer or use it to control other computers. The difficult aspect of remotely guiding a user through this setup procedure was actually getting them to notice the Chrome Remote Desktop option on the New Tab page:
I had to direct the user to the New Tab page since they were seeking for an add-on button (near the address bar). Aside than that, the setup went quite well.
You may now Share This Computer or connect to another computer:
When you select Share This Computer, you will be given a single 12-digit PIN number, which you may copy and paste into a chat session or even call in:
This is a good improvement over TeamViewer, which use a two-code approach (a user ID and a session password).There is just one number to remember while using Chrome Remote Desktop. To take control of the computer, the other person must use Chrome Remote Desktop and select the “access a shared computer” option, then input the PIN code:
When you select Connect, the remote desktop appears quickly, and if the connection is fast enough, Windows’ Aero interface with drop shadows and transparency is retained:
The “Close Distant Desktop BETA” window is constantly on top, allowing you and the person sitting in front of the remote computer to cancel the session at any moment. In fact, the window is so huge that it sometimes gets in the way and must be relocated.
Is It Better Than TeamViewer?
In a nutshell, no. Chrome Remote Desktop is a longer download and offers fewer possibilities than TeamViewer (for example, no file sharing). However, it does offer two significant benefits that may persuade you to utilize it instead of TeamViewer. The first is that it is completely free to use, not merely for non-commercial purposes. The second major benefit is that it is completely cross-platform, supporting Windows, Linux, Mac, and even Chromebooks. In fact, I think that is one of the few methods to remotely operate a Chromebook machine at the moment.
It’s obviously amazing as a beta and a technological experiment. I normally think of the browser as a type of sandbox, in which what occurs in the browser remains in the browser. Chrome Remote Desktop debunks that myth, demonstrating that Chrome can reach deep into your system if you allow it.
What is your preferred method of remote access? Will you try out Chrome Remote Desktop? Please share your opinions in the comments section!
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