Chrome Remote Desktop Review

A full review of Chrome Remote Desktop, a free remote access/desktop program

Chrome Remote Desktop is a free remote desktop program from Google that runs as an extension that's paired with the Chrome web browser.

You can use it to set up any computer running the Chrome browser to be a host computer that you can connect to at any time, whether the user is logged in or not, for full unattended access. It's also useful for temporary, on-demand, one-time access/support.

Google recommends using Chrome for both the client and host, but you might still have luck going between browsers (e.g., using Firefox to remote into a computer that has Chrome set up).

More About Chrome Remote Desktop

  • Windows, Mac, and Linux computers can install it.
  • Works from Android devices that install the app through Google Play
  • iOS users can install the mobile app from iTunes
  • Both spontaneous support and unattended access are supported
  • Clipboard syncing can be enabled
  • Key mapping is supported
  • You can upload and download files between your computer and the remote one
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del, PrtScr, and F11 can be sent to the remote computer with the press of a menu button
  • Lets you pick between full-screen, scale to fit, and resize to fit display options when connected to the remote computer

Chrome Remote Desktop: Pros & Cons

A number of other free remote access tools are more robust but Chrome Remote Desktop is certainly easy to get going with:

Pros:

  • Quick install
  • Works between operating systems
  • Supports multiple monitors
  • Updates often
  • Works even when the host user is logged off

Cons:

  • Unable to print remote files to a local printer
  • No chat capability

How to Use Chrome Remote Desktop

Like all remote access programs, Chrome Remote Desktop works where there's a client and host that are paired together. The client connects to the host to control the computer.

Here's what the host needs to do (the computer that will be connected to and controlled remotely):

  1. Visit Chrome Remote Desktop from the Chrome browser.

  2. Select Share my screen, and then log in to your Google account if asked. If you're already logged in, it might say Share this screen.

  3. Use the download button to install the extension in Chrome.

    Screenshot of the Chrome Remote Desktop share this screen download button
  4. Select Accept & Install when you see that button.

  5. Accept any installation prompts and wait for Chrome Remote Desktop Host to finish installing. If it doesn't start automatically, a folder should have opened to show you the download; double-click it to begin.

    You'll know it's done when the web page no longer shows the "Cancel" button.

  6. Select Generate Code.

    Screenshot of the Chrome Remote Desktop generate code button
  7. Give the code to the client (see directions below), and then select Share when you see the prompt asking for your permission to share your screen.

    Screenshot of the Chrome Remote Desktop host computer's share button

    The other person has five minutes to enter the code before it expires. If that happens, just return to the previous step and generate another one.

Connect to the Host

Here's what the client should do to connect to the host to remotely control it:

  1. Open the Remote Support page and log in to your Google account if asked.

  2. Paste the host computer's code into the Connect to another computer section, and then select Connect.

    Screenshot of the Chrome Remote Desktop connect to another computer screen
  3. Wait for the host computer to select Share. You'll see their screen a few moments after that.

When the client connects to the host computer, a message displays on the host that says "Your desktop is currently shared with," so Chrome Remote Desktop doesn't log in discreetly like some remote access programs.

Set Up Permanent Access

Don't want to use random codes to connect? Chrome Remote Desktop can also act as a permanent way to access another computer, ideal if it's your computer.

  1. On the computer that will be accessed remotely, open the Remote Access part of Chrome Remote Desktop. Log in to your Google account if asked.

  2. Select Turn on if you see it, otherwise use the download button to install the necessary add-on.

    Screenshot of the set up remote access area of Chrome Remote Desktop
  3. Give your computer a name and then select Next.

  4. Choose a secure PIN that you'll need each time you connect to the computer. Enter it twice and then select Start.

    Screenshot of the choose a PIN page on Chrome Remote Desktop
  5. To access the computer remotely, open the Remote Access page, select the computer, and enter the PIN you created.

Thoughts on Chrome Remote Desktop

We really like how easy it is to use Chrome Remote Desktop. Once installed, the menu is easily accessible with all the important actions you can take, but otherwise it's hidden from view to make room for the screen.

Because Chrome Remote Desktop is run entirely from the browser, it's great that basically all operating systems can use it. This means you're hardly limited to who you can provide support to.

Given that the program is installed in the background, the remote computer doesn't even need to be running Chrome when you want to connect to it, nor does the user have to be logged in. You'll have permanent access if you know the computer password (which is likely if it's your own PC). In fact, the client can reboot the remote computer and then log back in once it's fully powered back on, all from Chrome Remote Desktop.

While it's too bad that there isn't a chat function built-in, you can always use a third-party tool to communicate while you're connected to the other computer. Lots of mobile messaging apps can be used from computers, too.

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