How to Control Your PC From Your iPad

Take Control of Your PC Using Parallels Access or VNC Viewer

Parallels Access on the iPad


You may not believe just how easy it is to control your PC from an iPad. What seems like a complicated process boils down to three simple steps: installing a piece of software on your PC, downloading an app on your iPad, and telling the iPad app how to recognize your PC.

All of the software packages that let you remotely control your PC follow those three simple steps, but for this article, we are going to focus on two packages: VNC Viewer and Parallels Access.

Getting to Know the Options

VNC Viewer is a free iPad control solution ideal for those using it for personal use. The free version does not include remote printing or advanced security features, but for the basic act of controlling your PC from your iPad, it's up to the task. It also includes 128-bit AES encryption to protect your data.

Like many remote-control packages, you control the mouse button with your finger. A single tap on the iPad screen functions as a click of the mouse button, while a double-tap works as a double-click, and tapping two fingers translates to clicking the right mouse button. You will also have access to various touch gestures, such as swiping for scrolling down a list or pinch-zooming for apps that support zooming.

Parallels Access costs $19.99 a year, but if you plan on controlling your PC from your iPad on a regular basis, the cost is worth it. Instead of simply taking control of the mouse, Parallels Access transforms your PC into what is essentially an app server. Your iPad launches apps through a special menu system, with each piece of software running in full-screen mode on your iPad.

You can interact with the apps much like they were an app, which includes tapping menus and buttons with your finger to activate them without worrying about dragging the mouse pointer over to them. Parallels Access also takes away the precision sometimes needed to control a PC from an iPad, translating near-misses on a button to a correct button press. You can also sign into your PC remotely using a 4G connection or a remote Wi-Fi.

One drawback to Parallels Access is that your PC isn't quite as usable while being remotely controlled. If you are hoping to guide someone through a task remotely by taking over the computer to "show" them how to do something, for example, Parallels Access isn't the best solution. But for most other reasons to control a PC through an iPad, Parallels Access is the best solution available.

How to Set Up and Use Parallels Access to Control Your PC

Follow these steps to control your computer with an iPad using Parallels Access.

  1. First, you will need to register an account and download the software onto your PC. Parallels Access works on both Windows and macOS. Start this step by visiting this website.

  2. Select Buy Now or Download Free Trial to download a version of the software for Mac or Windows.

    You will need to register for an account to use the product once downloaded.

  3. After the download, select the downloaded file to install the software. Like most software, you will be asked where to install the application and agree to the terms of service. After installing, launch the software for the first time and, when prompted, type in the email address and password you used to create your account.

  4. On your iPad, download the Parallels Access app from the App Store.

  5. After the download is finished, launch the app. Again, you will be asked to sign into the account you created. Once this is done, you will see any computers that are currently running the Parallels Access software. Tap the computer you want to control and a short video will show giving you a tutorial on the basics.

You will always need to run the Parallels Access software on your PC before you can access it on your iPad.

How to Set Up and Use VNC Viewer to Control Your PC

Follow these steps to control your computer with an iPad using VNC Viewer.

  1. Before downloading the VNC Viewer software to your PC, you will first want to obtain a license key. Use this link to access the website and activate VNC. Be sure to choose the license type "Free license only, without premium features." Type in your name, email address, and country before selecting Continue to receive your key. Copy this key to the clipboard. You'll need it later.

  2. Download the software for your PC. You can find the latest software for Windows and Mac on the VNC Viewer website.

  3. After the download finishes, select the file to start the install. You will be prompted for a location and to agree to the terms of service. You may also be prompted on setting an exception for your firewall. This will allow the iPad app to communicate with your PC without the firewall blocking it.

  4. You will be prompted for the registration key obtained above. If you copied it to the clipboard, you can just paste it into the input box and hit Continue.

  5. When the VNC software first launches, you will be asked to supply a password. This password will be used when connecting to the PC.

  6. Once the password is supplied, you will see a window titled Get Started. This will give you the IP address needed to connect with the software.

  7. Next, download the VNC Viewer app from the App Store.

  8. When you launch the app, the first thing you will need to do is set up the PC you are trying to control. Do this by typing in the IP address from above and giving the PC a name, such as "My PC".

Once connected, you can control the mouse pointer by moving your finger around the screen. A tap on the iPad will translate to a click, a double-tap to a double-click, and a tap with two fingers to a right-click. If your entire desktop is not displaying on the screen, simply move your finger to the edge of the display to scroll across the desktop. You can also use the pinch to zoom gesture to zoom in and out.