16 Best Free Remote Access Software Tools

Remotely access computers for free with these programs

Remote desktop software, more accurately called remote access software or remote control software, let you remotely control one computer from another. By remote control, we truly mean remote control—you can take over the mouse and keyboard and use the computer you've connected to just like your own.

An illustration of someone remotely accessing their PC from a laptop on the beach.
Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi

Generally, remotely accessing a computer requires that a piece of software be installed on the computer you want to connect to, called the host. Another computer or device with the right credentials, called the client, connects to the host and controls it.

The better free remote access programs listed below require nothing more than a few clicks to get started—no special computer knowledge required.

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DWService files and folders tool
What We Like
  • Client access is through a web page.

  • Perfect for one-time access and permanent access.

  • Tabbed browsing for easy access to every management tool.

What We Don't Like
  • No built-in chat function.

DWService is a free and open-source project that truly simplifies remote access. The host installs or temporarily runs the program, and the client logs in via any web browser to run commands, control the screen, or control files and folders.

Host Side

The host has two options: download the DWAgent, and then run it for on-demand, one-time access (great for tech support), or install it for permanent remote access (ideal if it's your own computer).

If you choose the run option instead of the install option, you're given a user code and password that the client needs to reach the computer. Otherwise, enter the code and provided by the client so that they can have always-on access to the host computer.

Client Side

The client has it easy if the host uses the on-demand option. Log in through the link below and enter the code and password that shows on the host's DWAgent program window. That's it!

If the host installed the program, the setup procedure is a little more involved. Make a user account through the link below (it's totally free), and then add a new agent to your account. Give the code to the host during the program installation.

DWService has a handful of tools. Unlike some remote access programs, you don't have to open the screen sharing tool to do things like send/receive files or run commands.

The full list of tools you have access to as the client are Files and Folders, Text editor, Log watch, Resources, Screen, and Shell. They let you create all sorts of text-based files; browse through the file system to make, edit, or remove files, and upload or download files to and from the host; run Command Prompt commands; view basic system information, shut down tasks, and start or turn off services.

The DWAgent tool for the host can be installed on several operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and macOS. It also works through a mobile web browser. Android users can install the client app.

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AnyDesk New Session tab
What We Like
  • Has you create an easy-to-remember alias for remote connections.

  • Supports both audio and file transfer.

  • Lets you record the remote session.

  • Connections can be configured to favor quality or speed.

  • Updates to new software versions automatically.

  • Works on Linux, Windows, and macOS.

  • There's a mobile app available.

  • Free for personal use.

What We Don't Like
  • Could be confusing to understand at first.

  • Might limit connection time or address book entries because there are also paid versions of the program.

AnyDesk is a remote desktop program that you can run portably or install like a regular program.

Host Side

Launch it on the PC you want to connect to and record the 9-digit number, or custom alias if one is set up.

When the client connects, the host will be asked to allow or disallow the connection and can also control permissions, like to allow sound, clipboard use, and the ability to block the host's keyboard/mouse control.

Client Side

On another computer, run AnyDesk and then enter the host's Remote Desk ID or alias in the Remote Address section of the program, and wait for the host to accept the connection. You can also connect to the host from AnyDesk's web client.

If unattended access is set up, the client doesn't need to wait for the host to accept the connection. 

The program auto-updates and can enter full-screen mode, create a balance between quality and speed of the connection, transfer files and sound, sync the clipboard, record the remote session, run keyboard shortcuts, take screenshots of the remote computer, and restart the host computer.

It runs on macOS, Linux, and Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, and XP. There's also an app for iOS, Android, Chrome OS, FreeBSD, and Raspberry Pi.

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Chrome Remote Desktop

Screenshot of a remote computer in Chrome Remote Desktop
What We Like
  • Lets you remote into the computer even when the user isn't logged in.

  • Installs quickly.

  • Has multi-monitor support.

  • Includes a file transfer tool.

  • Lets you remote into the computer via an app.

  • Works on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

What We Don't Like
  • Can't chat with the remote user.

  • Remote printing isn't allowed.

Chrome Remote Desktop is an extension for the Chrome browser that lets you set up a computer for remote access.

Host Side

The way this works is that you install the extension to either get a random code you can share with someone else for spontaneous support (get that code here), or a PIN that you can use to get on the computer at any time from your own Google account.

Client Side

To connect to the host browser, sign on to Chrome Remote Desktop through another web browser using the same Google credentials or using a temporary access code generated by the host computer.

Because you're logged in, you can easily see the other PC name, from where you can simply choose it and begin the remote session.

There isn't a chat function like you see with similar programs, but it's very easy to configure and lets you connect to your computer (or anyone's) from anywhere using just your web browser.

What's more is that you can remote into the computer when the user doesn't have Chrome open, or even when they're completely logged out of their user account.

Since it runs entirely within Chrome, it can work with any operating system that uses that browser, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebooks.

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Getscreen.me remote access session
What We Like
  • Great for one-off sessions; takes just a minute to get started.

  • Can be used for permanent access.

  • Control the computer from a web browser.

  • Lots of features.

What We Don't Like
  • Limits max linked computers to two.

  • Mobile app runs on Android only.

  • Limits client connection invitations to one per day.

For a simple tool with some great features, you might consider the free remote access service Getscreen.me. If you need to quickly get into someone's computer without messing around with logins or installations, this is what you're after.

There's file sharing, a built-in chat window, buttons for common keyboard shortcuts (e.g., switch users, open Run box, open File Explorer), a system information viewer, full-screen mode, audio calling, and clipboard sharing.

Host Side

The computer that will be connected to needs to download and open the software. Installation is not required, but it can be fully installed if this computer will need to be accessed remotely permanently.

There are two ways to get the client connected. One is to log in to the client's user account with their email and password, a great option if they'll be getting into this computer a lot.

The other way to use Getscreen.me is to simply open the program and share the public link. With this anonymous session, whoever you give the link to will have access to your computer without needing a password. This is perfect for spontaneous technical support, but know that the connection time is limited when the program is used anonymously like this.

The host can dictate whether a few permissions are allowed, like if the client can control the mouse/keyboard, capture sound, and make audio calls.

Client Side

There are a couple of ways to access the remote computer. If you logged in to your account in the host program, then you have permanent access which means you can visit the link below to log in to the same account in a web browser to access the other computer.

Another way is if the host didn't log in to the account. The host can provide a URL that you can open from your device to automatically have access to the remote PC without needing your account information.

Free users are faced with a few limitations that can be lifted only if you pay. For example, only two computers can be linked to your account at once, you can't record the connection, Wake-on-LAN won't work, and file transfers max out at 50 MB per file.

It works on Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android. You can send controls from any device with a web browser.

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Windows Remote Desktop

Windows Remote Desktop Connection
What We Like
  • Provides the most natural and easy-to-use remote access experience.

  • No download necessary.

  • Supports file transfers.

What We Don't Like
  • Works on Windows only.

  • Not every version of Windows can be remoted into.

  • No built-in chat capability.

  • Requires port forwarding changes to be set up.

Windows Remote Desktop is the remote access software built into the Windows operating system. No additional download is necessary to use the program.

Host Side

To enable connections to a computer with Windows Remote Desktop, you must open the System Properties settings accessible via Settings (W11) or Control Panel and allow remote connections via a particular Windows user.

You do have to set up your router for port forwarding so that another PC can connect to it from outside the network, but this is usually not that big of a hassle to complete.

Client Side

The other computer that wishes to connect to the host machine must simply open the already installed Remote Desktop Connection software and enter the IP address of the host.

You can open Remote Desktop through the Run dialog box (open it with the Windows Key + R shortcut); just enter the mstsc command to launch it.

Most of the other software in this list have features that Windows Remote Desktop doesn't, but this method of remote access seems to be the most natural and easiest way to control the mouse and keyboard of a remote Windows PC.

Once you have everything configured, you can transfer files, print to a local printer, listen to audio from the remote PC, and transfer clipboard content.

Remote Desktop Availability

Windows Remote Desktop can be used on Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.

However, while all versions of Windows can connect to other computers that have incoming connections enabled, not all Windows versions can act as a host (i.e. accept incoming remote access requests).

If you're using a Home Premium version or below, your computer can only act as a client and therefore cannot be accessed remotely (but it can still access other computers remotely).

Incoming remote access is only allowed on Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate versions of Windows. In those editions, others can remote into the computer as described above.

Something else to remember is that Remote Desktop will kick a user off if they're logged in when someone connects to that user's account remotely. This is vastly different from every other program in this list—all the others can remote in to a user account while the user is still actively using the computer.

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UltraVNC remote access program
What We Like
  • Supports file transfers.

  • Custom keyboard shortcuts can be set up.

  • You can send chat messages to the remote computer.

  • Lets you connect to a remote computer from a browser, computer program, and mobile app.

What We Don't Like
  • You have to change your router settings to make the program work.

  • Doesn't work well for on-demand, spontaneous remote access

  • Can't print remotely.

  • Unable to turn the computer on remotely.

  • Confusing download page.

UltraVNC works a bit like Remote Utilities (listed at the bottom of this page), where a server and viewer is installed on two PCs, and the viewer is used to control the server.

Host Side

At installation, you're asked if you wish to install the Server, Viewer, or both. Install the Server on the PC you wish to connect to.

You can install Server as a system service so it's always running. This is the ideal option so that you can always make a connection to it with the client software.

Client Side

To make a connection with the Server, you must install the Viewer portion during setup.

After configuring port forwarding in your router, you'll be able to access the host computer from anywhere with an internet connection—either via a mobile device that supports VNC connections, a PC with the Viewer installed, or an internet browser. All you need is the Server's IP address to make the connection.

UltraVNC supports file transfers, text chat, clipboard sharing, and can even boot and connect to the server in Safe Mode.

The download page is a little confusing—first select the most recent version of the software, and then choose the 32-bit or 64-bit setup file that will work with your edition of Windows.

Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7 users can install and use the latest software version. Older Windows versions can install an earlier edition of the software.

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Distant Desktop

Distant Desktop connected to a remote computer running Lifewire in the browser
What We Like
  • No install necessary.

  • Whitelist trusted computers.

  • Transfer files and send chats.

  • Free even for commercial use.

What We Don't Like
  • Runs on Windows only.

This is another completely portable remote access program. It's also 100 percent free for both personal and commercial use, which is rare to find.

Host Side

The computer that will be controlled by the client simply needs to share its ID and password with the other computer.

Client Side

For the computer that will be performing the remote access, press Connect and enter the host's ID and password. The tabs at the top of the program let you open multiple connections at once.

Once you're connected to the other computer, you can send files to and from them and communicate over text or using your voice. Passwords are generated automatically, but you can also choose your own to make it easier to remember.

The program is compatible with Windows 11, 10, 8, Vista, and 7, as well as Windows Server 2008, 2003, and 2000. There's also an Android app that can work as the host or client.

Download For:

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AeroAdmin v4.0 in Windows 8
What We Like
  • Can be installed as a portable application.

  • Free for commercial and private use.

  • Works right away; no router changes are necessary.

  • Can remotely log off and reboot the computer.

  • Encrypted connections.

  • Ideal for spontaneous and unattended access.

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't support chat.

  • Connection times are limited in the free edition.

  • Can't print remotely.

  • No file transfer support in free version.

AeroAdmin is probably the easiest program to use for free remote access. There are hardly any settings, and everything is quick and to the point, which is perfect for spontaneous support.

Host Side

Just open the portable program and share your IP address or the given ID with someone else. This is how the client computer will know how to connect to the host.

Client Side

The client PC just needs to run the same program and enter the ID or IP address into their program. You can choose View only or Remote Control before you connect, and then just select Connect to request remote control.

When the host computer confirms the connection, you can start controlling the computer and share clipboard text.

It's great that AeroAdmin is absolutely free for both personal and commercial use, but it's too bad there isn't a chat option included, and really too bad that you can't transfer files.

Another note that needs to be made is that while the program is 100 percent free, it does limit how many hours you can use it per month.

It can be installed on 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, and XP.

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AnyViewer connect tab
What We Like
  • A user account isn't necessary.

  • Super-quick installation.

  • Distraction-free experience for the host during sessions.

  • A chat box is built-in.

  • Two connection methods.

  • Built-in file manager for transferring files.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited to assigning three devices to your account at once.

From the popular software company AOMEI is AnyViewer. It installed for us in less than five seconds and has a really simple user interface that's easy for anyone to understand right off the bat.

Host Side

Share the device ID and security code with the client. The security code is created by the program and will, by default, change every time the software restarts. You can have it change more or less frequently by editing the program's settings—you can even set the code yourself if you want the client to be able to access the computer in the future with the same code.

Client Side

Put the host's device ID into the Start Control box, and then press Connect. On the prompt that pops up, either choose the option to send a control request to the host, and then wait for them to accept it, or enter the security code.

During a session, the client can change the resolution to better fit the display, and swap between high and low image quality to optimize quality or speed over the other.

The Operation tab during a remote session includes shortcuts to common actions: Ctrl+Alt+Del, lock, log out, restart, shut down, This PC, Task Manager, and Command Prompt. You can also auto-lock the device when you end the session, and if you pay, you have the added options of disabling the host's mouse/keyboard and making the recipient's screen black.

You can make a user account if you want to manage unattended devices and see the connection history. Otherwise, you can connect to the host right away after installation, so it's great for both one-off sessions and repeat users.

Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7 are supported, as is Windows Server 2022 through 2012 R2, and Android, iPad, and iPhone.

Download For:

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Iperius Remote

Screenshot of Iperius Remote in Windows 10
What We Like
  • Very easy to use; no installation necessary.

  • No user account required.

  • Includes a chat window.

  • Supports file transfers.

  • Free for private and non-commercial use.

What We Don't Like
  • Some features are clickable but then you're told they're not usable in the free version.

  • Might limit connection time.

Iperius Remote is one of the easiest to use remote desktop programs with some awesome features like a robust file transfer tool and chat application. It also lets you connect to a computer remotely with their mobile app.

Host Side

Open the program and select Allow connections to see your password. Share that and the ID next to it with the client so that they can connect to the computer.

Client Side

Enter the host computer's ID into the second text box, press Connect, and then enter the password when you see the password prompt.

This free remote access program is perfect for on-demand access. You and the other person can download and start using Iperius Remote in just a minute or two.

The program interface is extremely simple and easy to understand. During a remote connection, you can send the Ctrl+Alt+Del shortcut, choose which display to view, switch to full screen mode, and open the file transfer or chat utility.

If you want more control, you can open the settings to enable continuous access, a custom password, a proxy, etc.

Supported operating systems include 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7, as well as Windows Server 2022, 2019, 2016, and 2012. There's also an app for macOS, Android, and iOS.

Download For:

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RustDesk remote access program
What We Like
  • Lightweight look and feel.

  • Easy to grasp even for novice users.

  • Chat and file transfer functions.

  • Other useful options.

  • End-to-end encryption.

What We Don't Like
  • Infrequently updated.

RustDesk is similar to AnyDesk, listed above. This program has a way for the host and client to chat (text only), and files can be sent and received. There's a 32-bit and 64-bit version, plus a portable edition that doesn't need to be installed, and mobile apps.

Host Side

The host computer (the one to be remoted into) just needs to open the program and share the ID and password with the client.

Once the client has established a connection to the host, the host user can easily disconnect the client at any time, plus control permissions through one-click toggles: disable keyboard and mouse control, disable clipboard access, mute the client from being able to hear sound, disable copy/paste.

Client Side

The client needs to enter the host machine's ID and password (the password isn't required if the host is on their computer and accepts the connection request). Then, choose either the file transfer or regular connect button to begin transferring files or connect to the host to view its screen.

There are tabs to show recent sessions, favorites, and an address book for easily reconnecting with past hosts. You can also make a desktop shortcut that will immediately start a remote session with a specific client.

The client can do all the following during a session: enter full screen mode, start a chat or file transfer, send Ctrl + Alt + Del, insert Lock, block user input, adjust the client window size, optimize for quality or speed, show/hide the remote cursor, mute the session, allow/deny copy and paste, disable the clipboard, and enable the automatic user account lock after the session ends.

This program also supports IP whitelisting, custom ID creation, and using your own server if you'd rather not use the company's public server. There's also a web client that lets you reach a host without having to download the program.

This open source remote desktop program works on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.

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Quick Assist

Quick Assist remote access tool in Windows 10
What We Like
  • Built-in to Windows 11/10.

  • Easy signup with your Microsoft account.

  • Perfect for on-demand, quick access.

What We Don't Like
  • Requires at least Windows 10.

  • No built-in chat function.

  • Can't share files.

  • Requires the host's permission for each connection.

The free Quick Assist remote access program is easy to understand and doesn't require a download because it's built-in to Windows 11 and 10. Search for it through the Start menu, or browse the Windows Accessories Start menu folder, to open the program (use the link below if you can't find it).

Host Side

Type into the text box the 6-digit code that the client's computer generated, and then select Share screen. Once the client has done their part, you need to confirm that they can have access to your computer before the connection can be established.

Client Side

Choose Assist another person and then log in to your Microsoft account. Give the security code to the host and then choose Take full control or View screen to get remote access to their computer.

Once the client has connected to the host, they can change which monitor to control, annotate directly on the screen, restart the computer, and quickly open Task Manager.

Press Win+Ctrl+Q to open it, or see Microsoft's page on Quick Assist if you need help finding it on your computer.

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Screenshot of LiteManager version 5 in Windows 10
What We Like
  • Stores remote access information for up to 30 computers.

  • Several ways to connect to a remote computer.

  • You can open files remotely without controlling the screen.

  • Lets you transfer files without any notifications or alerts.

  • Supports text chat.

  • Includes lots of useful tools.

  • Supports spontaneous and portable remote access.

  • Runs on Windows and macOS.

What We Don't Like
  • The program doesn't update very often.

  • The multitude of options could be overwhelming and confusing if you just want a simple remote access tool.

LiteManager is strikingly similar to Remote Utilities. However, unlike that program, which can control a total of only 10 PCs, this one supports up to 30 slots for storing and connecting to remote computers, and also has lots of useful features.

Host Side

The computer that needs to be accessed should install the LiteManager Pro – Server.msi program (it's free), which is contained in the downloaded ZIP file.

There are numerous ways to ensure a connection can be made to the host computer. It can be done through the IP address, computer name, or an ID. 

The easiest way to set this up is to right-click the server program in the notification area of the taskbar, choose Connect by ID, erase the contents that are already there, and click Connected to generate a brand new ID.

Client Side

The other program, called Viewer, is installed for the client to connect to the host. Once the host computer has produced an ID, the client should enter it from the Connect by ID option in the Connection menu to establish a remote connection to the other computer.

Once connected, the client can do all sorts of things, much like with Remote Utilities, such as work with multiple monitors, transfer files silently, take full control or read-only access of the other PC, run a remote task manager, launch files and programs remotely, capture sound, edit the registry, create a demonstration, lock the other person's screen and keyboard, and text chat.

There's also a QuickSupport option, which is a portable server and viewer program that makes connecting much quicker than the above method.

We tested LiteManager in Windows 10, but it should also work just fine in Windows 11, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. This program is available for macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS, too.

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DesktopNow website
What We Like
  • You can access remote computers from any web browser.

  • Lets you avoid setting up router port forwards, but that is an option.

  • Includes a remote file browser for file transfers.

What We Don't Like
  • Hasn't been updated in a long time.

  • Unattended access is hard to achieve.

DesktopNow is a free remote access program from NCH Software. After optionally forwarding the proper port number in your router, and signing up for a free account, you can access your PC from anywhere through a web browser.

Host Side

The computer that will be accessed remotely needs to have the DesktopNow software installed.

When the program is first launched, your email and a password should be entered so you can use the same credentials on the client side to make the connection.

The host computer can either configure its router to forward the proper port number to itself or choose cloud access during the install to make a direct connection to the client, bypassing the need for complicated forwarding.

It's probably a better idea for most people to use the direct, cloud access method to avoid issues with port forwarding.

Client Side

The client just needs to access the host through a web browser. If the router was configured to forward the port number, the client would use the host PCs IP address to connect. If cloud access was chosen, a specific link would have been given to the host that you'd use for the connection.

DesktopNow has a nice file sharing feature that lets you download your shared files remotely in an easy-to-use file browser.

There isn't a dedicated application for mobile devices, so trying to view and control a computer from a phone or tablet can be difficult. However, the website is optimized for mobile phones, so viewing your shared files is easy.

64-bit versions of Windows are supported. This includes Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.

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ShowMyPC start screen
What We Like
  • Simple, to-the-point design.

  • Lets others connect to your computer through a special URL.

  • Portable and perfect for spontaneous remote access.

What We Don't Like
  • Keyboard shortcuts are limited.

  • Displays a banner ad.

ShowMyPC is portable and similar to some of these other programs, but uses a password to make a connection instead of an IP address. ShowMyPc isn't free, but they do offer a 30-day free trial.

Host Side

Run the ShowMyPC software on any computer and then choose Show My PC to get a unique ID number called a Share Password.

This ID is the number you must share with others so they can connect to the host.

Client Side

Open the same program on another computer and enter the ID from the host program to make a connection. The client can instead enter the number on the ShowMyPC website (in the "View PC" box) and run a Java version of the program within their browser.

There are additional options here that aren't available in UltraVNC, like webcam sharing over a web browser and scheduled meetings that allow someone to connect to your PC via a personal web link that launches a Java version of ShowMyPC.

Clients can only send a limited number of keyboard shortcuts to the host computer.

It works on all versions of Windows.

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Remote Utilities

Command Prompt in Remote Utilities
What We Like
  • Includes lots of remote access tools.

  • Great for both spontaneous and unattended remote access.

  • Supports portable mode.

  • Doesn't require router port changes.

  • Lets you connect to up to 10 computers.

  • 30-day fully functional trial.

What We Don't Like
  • It can get confusing setting up the program for first use.

  • Linux and macOS versions are in beta.

Remote Utilities is a remote access program that isn't free, but it offers a 30-day, fully-functional free trial of the Viewer component. (The other components are free.) It works by pairing two remote computers together with an Internet ID. Control a total of 10 computers with this program.

Host Side

Install Host on a Windows computer to gain permanent access to it. Or just run Agent, which provides spontaneous support without installing anything—it can even be launched from a flash drive.

The host computer obtains an Internet ID that a client uses to make a connection.

Client Side

The Viewer program connects to the host or agent software.

Download Viewer on its own or in the Viewer + Host combo file. Download a portable version of the Viewer if you'd rather not install anything.

Connecting the Viewer to the Host or Agent doesn't require any router changes like port forwarding, making setup very easy. The client just needs to enter the Internet ID number and password.

There are client applications that can be downloaded for free for iOS and Android users.

Different modules can be used from the viewer so you can actually access a computer remotely without even viewing the screen, though screen-viewing is definitely Remote Utilities' main feature.

Here are some of the modules Remote Utilities allows: A remote task manager, file transfer, power control for remote rebooting or WOL, remote terminal (access to Command Prompt), remote file launcher, system information manager, text chat, remote registry access, and remote webcam viewing.

In addition to these features, remote printing and viewing multiple monitors is also supported.

Unfortunately, configuring Remote Utilities can be confusing on the host computer since there are lots of different options.

Remote Utilities can be installed on Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP, as well as Windows Server 2019, 2016, 2012, 2008, and 2003. There's also a version for Linux and macOS, but both are in beta and might not work as well as the Windows edition. The mobile app runs on both Android and iOS.

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Aren't There Other Free Remote Access Programs?

You do have other options, like TeamViewer, which is wildly popular. Unfortunately, however, many users have had issues with it thinking that they're using it in a business setting, forcing them to pay to continue using the tool.

LogMeIn's free product, LogMeIn Free, is no longer available. This was one of the more popular free remote access services ever available, so it's really too bad it went away.

We also used to recommend Ammyy Admin, but that software has been identified as a threat by dozens of virus scanners.

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