If you’re anything like me, you spend basically all of your time on “holiday” not with family enjoying a nice cup of cocoa, but rather fixing and setting up all their devices. This can be annoying itself, but when you go back home, it can be even more of a pain helping out remotely without being able to see what they see. One app from Google that can help in this situation — it’s been available for Chrome and Chrome OS for a while now — is Chrome Remote Desktop.
Here’s how to use Chrome Remote Desktop to gain remote access to your loved ones’ computers from afar, and help them with those pesky problems…
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First of all, if you have an iOS device and/or a Mac, you might want to follow a similar guide we published over at 9to5Mac. This method will still work with Apple’s platforms (you can still use Chrome Remote Desktop on both macOS and iOS devices), but the solution we shared at our sister site might be a bit easier depending on the situation you’re dealing with. If you want to move forward with Chrome Remote Desktop, read on.
Install the app on your device
The first thing you need to do is get the Chrome Remote Desktop app, either through the Chrome Web Store or one of the two major app stores. It’s free of course, and it only takes a few seconds to install on Chrome OS/Chrome, Android, or iOS. Note that you can only use the Android and iOS apps to connect to a hosted Chrome Remote Desktop computer — you can’t use them to share a mobile device’s screen.
Guide them through installing Chrome Remote Desktop on their device
This is probably going to be one of the more difficult steps to this guide depending on the technical ability of the person you’re trying to help. If you’re helping them with a Chromebook, then all they have to do is head to the Chrome Web Store as I mentioned and install the plug in. If you’re helping them out with a Windows or Mac machine, they have to first have Chrome installed, and then they have to install the same extension.
Once they have the extension installed, they have to open the extension (which might take getting on the phone with them to navigate them to the right place in Chrome — I would recommend the “Launch app” button from the Web Store listing). From there, they have to grant permissions to the extension and log in with a Google account, and then they have to make their way to the big green “Share” button under “Remote Assistance”.
Since you’re going to be the one accessing their computer in this case, you’re going to be clicking the “Access” button after you’ve walked them through setting up “Share”. More on that right down below.
Walk them through downloading the Host Installer
If this is the first time that your friend or family member is using Chrome Remote Desktop to share their screen, they will have to download the Chrome Remote Desktop Host Installer. This is just a quick 32MB download, and should only take a minute or two to install. Of course, this family member you’re trying to help out is going to have to know how to run an executable (on Windows) or a package (on Mac) and click “Next” or “Continue” about a dozen times.
This part of the process is what’s going to allow you to control their entire computer through this Chrome extension.
After this Host package is installed, they have to find their way back to the Chrome Remote Desktop app (if they have problems with this, it might be best — as I said — to just direct them once again to the big green “Launch app” button on the Chrome Web Store page), where they will find the below screen with a set of 12 numbers that will give you access to their computer. Have them give you these numbers.
Access the remotely hosted computer
As I mentioned earlier, this is the part where you — the person who is trying to remotely access a family members’ computer — want to click the “Access” button in the Chrome Remote Desktop app. After you click this button, you’ll be given a dialog box that lets you enter the numbers that appeared on the host computer.
From there, you’ll have a new window open that is basically a live copy of their desktop. Not only will you be able to see everything that they’re looking at, you can click on anything you see and you can type as well. With this, you should be able to help them with just about any problem they might be having on their Mac, Windows, or Chrome OS desktop.
The only big thing this probably won’t help you with is getting them connected to the internet…