How to Remotely Access and Control a PC from Your Phone

With the right remote desktop app, you can control your Windows computer from either your iPhone or Android device

What to Know

  • You can use different remote access apps to fully control a PC, just for assistive control, and/or remote file access.
  • Fully controlling a PC means everything the remote PC is doing is controlled by you and visible on your screen.
  • You can also use your phone as a mouse to help control a PC and there are ways to get files from a remote PC.

This article explains how to use Android or iPhone to remotely access a Windows computer. There are three ways to do this, depending on your goal. You can view and control the PC when you're away, move just the mouse when the PC is across the room, or download files from your computer straight to your phone.

How to Access a PC Remotely With Your Phone for Full Control

One way to access a remote computer is to have full control over it. This lets you see the PC's screen, hear its audio, and control the mouse and keyboard just as if you were seated physically in front of the computer.

Before you get started, pick a remote access program that works with your phone. We'll use AnyDesk for our example (it's free), but there are several other options in our Best Free Remote Access Software Tools list.

  1. Download AnyDesk to the computer you want to control, and then open it. Take note of the Your Address number.

    AnyDesk starts as a portable program, but you can choose to install it if you want to (installing is preferred if you plan to use this for spontaneous remote access in the future).

    The AnyDesk app running on a Windows PC and displaying your Remote Address.
  2. Install the mobile app on your phone.

  3. From the mobile app, in the Remote Address text box, type the nine-digit number displayed in the Windows app.

  4. Tap the arrow in the mobile app. You should then see a Connecting window.

    The initial set up of the AnyDesk Android app being connected to Windows 11.
  5. From the computer, select Allow access in the Windows Security Alert prompt (if you see it), and then Accept in AnyDesk.

    Highlighted steps to navigate the AnyDesk Windows 11 firewall prompt.
  6. Your phone is now connected to your PC, and you can control the mouse and keyboard.

Setting Up Unattended Remote Access

Remote access software is most useful when you're away from your computer... that's obvious. So, how do the above instructions work if you can't complete the Allow access step because you're not home?

AnyDesk, like most remote access tools, lets you configure permanent access so you can, at any time, decide to log in to your computer wherever you have internet access.

To do this, select the menu button at the top right of the desktop program, and then choose Set password. Enter a password in the prompt, ensure that Unattended Access is chosen for the permission profile, and then select Apply.

All you'll need to do next time you want to access your computer remotely is enter that password.

A screen showing how to set a password so you'll have access to AnyDesk at any time.

For spontaneous access, we highly recommend that you install the remote desktop program on your computer. If you don't, it's easy to close AnyDesk by accident and thus shut down any possibility for you to control your computer when you need to.

How to Control Your PC Mouse Remotely With Your Phone

If you don't need full control of the computer, there are some alternative remote access techniques that might serve you better. They still use apps to connect to your computer, but they don't necessarily permit full control, so in some cases, you can't see the remote screen, printing isn't supported, and audio will not be relayed to your phone.

One method is to use your phone as a Wi-Fi mouse. If you like to sit across the room from your computer, but you want to control media playback or other things on the screen, all you really need is an app that turns your phone into a mouse/touchpad.

Here's how this works with Unified Remote:

  1. Install Unified Remote Server to your Windows PC, and also install the Unified Remote app to your mobile device.

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  2. Open the server program in Windows and confirm any prompts to allow it through the Windows Firewall.

  3. Open the mobile app, and choose your computer from the list of available servers. If you don't see a prompt to pick a server, open the app's menu, and look for your PC in the Servers tab.

  4. From the app's main screen, choose Basic Input.

    Steps to take to work with the Unified Remote app running on an Android phone.

    This is the tool that turns your phone into a mouse, but other functions are supported as well, such as keyboard commands and controlling media playback.

How to Access Your PC Files Remotely With Your Phone

There are also file transfer tools that let you access your files from anywhere.

The AnyDesk program mentioned above, as well as other remote access apps, also let you 'access your files' remotely, in the sense that you can view photos and videos, open documents, etc. But you're just viewing them remotely. The methods described below provide true access to your PC's files, meaning you can download them from your computer to your phone, and ultimately, even share them like you would anything on your phone.

Below is an example of this in action using the Pushbullet Android app. Few iOS apps support this kind of functionality, but one way you can make it work is to install FTP server software on your computer, and then connect to it from your iPhone or iPad with an FTP client app like FTPManager.

  1. Visit the Get Pushbullet page to download the Windows and Android apps.

  2. Open both apps, and log in when asked. You can sign in with your Google account for easy setup.

  3. From the desktop app, in the Settings tab, select Remote Files access.

    Setting up the Remote Access feature in Pushbullet on a Windows PC.
  4. To access your Windows PC files from the app, go into the Account tab and tap Remote Files. Select your computer from the list to instantly see all of its files and folders.

    The Pushbullet Android app viewing Windows files remotely.

Another way to access files on your phone from a Windows computer is with peer-to-peer file sharing tools, such as Wormhole. This isn't ideal for long-term file sharing, and it only works if you manually select which file to send to your phone. However, it does work in a pinch and also simplifies sharing files with other people.

Remote Desktop Access Isn't Always Necessary

Programs that provide remote access functionality are handy for some scenarios, but they're completely unnecessary if you can already get those benefits from your phone.

Let's use email as an example. You don't need to remotely control your PC to get into your email account because email is available online. When you view your email on your computer, you're really just pulling that information from the internet. You can do the exact same thing directly from your phone by simply installing an email app on your phone and logging into your email.

Similarly, if you use an online backup tool, most if not all of your files should be backed up online. If the service provides a mobile app, that's a super simple way to view those files without needing to access your PC remotely.

Choosing the Right Remote Access Tool

If you know you need some way to get into your computer remotely, how do know which of the above methods to choose?

Full Remote Access

Full remote PC access is useful if you need to use the computer as if you were sitting in front of it. This goes for anything: using software that only works from your PC, managing your home router, and shutting off your computer are just a few examples. Of course, if you set up the remote desktop tool on a friend's computer, this is a great way to provide tech support when you're on the go.

Remote Mouse Control

Remote access via a Wi-Fi mouse is great when you want to control your computer from somewhere else in your house. The app we sampled above can quickly pause music playback, so it's helpful if you use your PC as a media player. Another use case is if your computer is tied to your living room TV, but your couch is too far to reliably use a traditional mouse. You can still start and pause a movie, browse the web, etc.

Remote File Access

Accessing your computer's files remotely can be a lifesaver. If your PC files aren't backed up online, the best way to access them is with a file transfer app. You probably don't need to view your screen to do this, so you don't need a full remote access tool.

For example, say there's a spreadsheet or photo on your desktop that you need to email to someone or make a quick edit on your phone. Use a remote file browser to download the file to your phone, after which you can use your phone to do whatever you need.

  • How do I remotely access an Android phone from a PC?

    You'll use an app to control your phone from a PC. Some popular options are AirDroid, Pushbullet, and Samsung Flow. Some of these options are free, but others have one-time or monthly fees.

  • How do I remotely access another computer?

    Windows 10 and 11 have remote access built in. First, go to Start > Settings > System > Remote Desktop, and turn on Enable Remote Desktop on the computer you want to access. Then, use the Remote Desktop Connection app.

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