Remotely Controlling the Natives

remote-softwareThis week I thought we’d look at something completely different, something you might have seen done on a movie but never thought you could do it – remote computing; that is controlling your computer from a different computer. You can even do this on the other side of the planet and it’s so simple, even those one fry short of a happy meal can do it.

But first why would anyone want to remotely access a computer except for nefarious uses? Well let’s say Uncle Inept from Whoopamooloo can’t workout how to put a header in a word document and you’ve tried explaining it on the phone, but he’s just not getting it; connect remotely and show him. Or perhaps there’s some strange goings on you mum’s PC which each time you visit they’ve mysteriously disappeared. Connect remotely when she sees the problem and sort it out from home. Obviously remote computing has great potential not least among other things for training and problem solving from a distance.

Screen sharing softwareNow before you think of running, imagining that this is going to involve hacking, command prompts and  obtaining some sort of imagined Nerd-varna condition, let me point out that all you need to remote access a computer is the same freely downloadable remote access software on both computers and an internet connection between them!

Even built right into Windows already is Windows Remote Desktop. Though it’s relatively easy to set up, free and fully integrated into your operating system, I’d like to introduce to you 3rd party remote desktop software, which are even easier! Of these there are a number of free products available, among others TeamViewer, Remote Utilities , Ammyy Admin and AeroAdmin. For the rest of this post I’m going to show you how to download, install and use TeamViewer which is by a long shot, the easiest, most useful remote access tool I’ve used. TeamViewer works with Windows, Macs and Linux machines too so it doesn’t matter what flavor you are.

First download and install TeamViewer

There’s a number of places you can download TeamViewer from, but the safest bet is the TeamViewer download page here. (You’ll see tabs for the Mac, Linux and mobile versions here too.) There are a number of options on this page but just pick the ‘All-In-One’ version mainly for simplicity and because it’s 5:30 am when I’m writing this draft and I’m seriously unmotivated to go into it all right now.

Installing TeamViewer

This is as about as difficult as cleaning your teeth with an electric toothbrush. Click on the downloaded file and follow the prompts to install the program. Choosing the defaults will work just fine.

Using TeamViewer

TeamViewerAssuming you’ve got someone to install the program on a remote computer, the internet is working and you have a phone, call your friend and have them open the TeamViewer program on their computer. Do the same on your computer (obviously). Along the left side you’ll see the Your ID and Password fields. Have your friend tell you their ID and password from the corresponding screen on their computer and enter their ID into the Partner ID field on the right. Click the Connect to partner button, enter their password into the next window and you’re done. Now you can control your friend’s computer from your place with your mouse and keyboard. Use this power responsibly or you may loose your friend.

There are a number of cool functions in Teamviewer I haven’t gone into here but will leave you to explore them later. It’s worth noting too, that the password generated for your computer will be different each time the computer restarts whereas the ID remains the same.

Next week I’ll show you something else cool and useful. Until then have a great day, week and weekend.

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