How To Use Your Phone as a Wi-Fi Mouse

Who needs a Swiss Army Knife when you have a smartphone?

smartphone and laptop
Using a smartphone as a mouse.  Getty/ Hill Street Studios

Working remotely from cafés and co-working spaces is prevalent, but it often means lugging around the contents of your desk. Who wants to carry around a laptop, mouse, and keyboard all over town? While many use the keyboard and touchpad on their laptop, attaching a wireless keyboard and mouse is more ergonomic, and for many, easier to use.

However, you can eschew those accessories and use your Android smartphone or iPhone as Wi-Fi mouse, remote control, and keyboard.

Connecting your smartphone to your PC will let you control music and video playback, including volume adjustment, type quick notes or input a password, and navigate documents and the web.

It's also handy when making presentations or if you want to mirror your screens. Turning your phone into a mouse is also convenient if your laptop's touchpad is broken or wonky. All you need is a mobile app and a desktop server app.

Best Smartphone Mouse Apps

Many apps can turn your smartphone into a mouse for your computer; these three are good options: Unified Remote, Remote Mouse, and PC Remote. We gave each of them a test run, using an Android smartphone and Windows PC.

All three apps were intuitive, and the mouse/touchpad function worked without noticeable delay on each. The keyboard function on Unified Remote and Remote Mouse worked fine, but we found ourselves wishing we could just use our smartphone's keyboard.

For anyone who needs a remote or wireless mouse, we recommend any of these three apps. 

Unified Remote (by Unified Intents) works with both PCs and Macs and has a free and paid version. The free version includes 18 remotes, multiple themes, and third-party keyboard support, while the paid version ($3.99) adds more than 40 premium remotes and the ability to create custom remotes.

Remote options include a keyboard and mouse. The premium version also supports screen mirroring on PCs, Macs, and Android devices. It also has voice control and integrates with Android Wear and Tasker. There's also a 99-cent version built for TVs, set-top boxes, game consoles, and other devices. Unified Remote can also control other connected devices including the Raspberry Pi.

Remote Mouse (free with in-app purchases) works with PCs, Macs, and on Linux. The app gives you a touchpad to control your computer with swipe motions and an on-screen keyboard. You can adjust sensitivity and speed settings as you would with a computer mouse.

Finally, the PC Remote (free; by Monect) works on Windows PCs and can turn your Android or Windows phone into a keyboard, touchpad, and game controller. You can play PC games with customized button layouts, and project images from your smartphone onto your computer.

How to Set Up Your Mobile Mouse

Each of these options has a desktop app and a mobile app that work together, and set up is similar across each.

  1. Install the PC server software. Follow software's installation instructions or wizard.
  2. Then install the mobile app on one or more phones or tablets.
  3. Make sure to connect each device to the same Wi-Fi network.
  1. Choose your activity (media, games, file manager, etc.)

Once you're set up, the desktop app will appear in the menu bar on your PC, and you can tweak settings in the mobile app and toggle between activities. You can slide your fingers to navigate around the screen, pinch and zoom, and left and right click using gestures.

When at home, you might use your phone mouse to play music or videos; if you have multiple devices, people can take turns playing DJ. At a café, you can be productive without carrying around too much equipment; just make sure your smartphone and PC are on the same Wi-Fi network.

Out on the road, you might use your remote to make a presentation or run a slide show. These apps can turn your smartphone into a jack of all trades. Give them a try and be more productive on the go.

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