This recommendation comes with a bit of a caveat.
TeamViewer makes remote access to your computers easy. If you have
TeamViewer set up on your machine at home, you can connect to it from just about
anywhere you have an internet connection and via just about any device that
you might have with you.
It’s very cool and relatively simple to set up.
It’s also fairly expensive if you’re looking at a solution for your
However, TeamViewer is free for private use, which makes it an ideal solution
for individuals just wanting to remote-access their computer back home or any
other non-commercial uses.
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The best way to think of TeamViewer is as Remote Desktop on steroids, working
transparently across the internet, not requiring any complex port-forwarding or
In order to use TeamViewer for remote access to a computer, it must be
installed on that computer. In fact, the easiest way to use TeamViewer is to
install it on all of the computers that you might want to connect to or from, and
have them all associated with a single TeamViewer account.
Download TeamViewer to each machine and run the installer. Begin by
indicating that you are indeed installing the program:
Next, you’ll indicate that you are using TeamViewer for Personal/non-commercial use:
Followed by agreeing to a license that once again confirms that
Next, you’ll indicate how you want TeamViewer to run on this machine:
The dialog describes it well, but the difference really boils down to this:
if you indicate that yes, you want to be able to remote access this machine,
it really means that you want to remote access this machine without needing
to be present. In this case, TeamViewer is installed and runs automatically
when Windows boots. You’ll be able to initiate connections to this machine at
anytime without needing to start TeamViewer on it manually.
This is what I do.
The next dialog also relates to unattended access:
For security, you can also ensure that any remote access requested needs to
be approved by someone at the machine. Unfortunately, that requires that someone
be at the machine.
The TeamViewer VPN is optional. I don’t use it myself; I’ll describe what I
do instead later. If enabled, this would allow you to copy files and connect to
remote machines as if they were on your local network.
The default install location should be fine, as should the Start Menu
TeamViewer is then installed and run.
After setup is complete, TeamViewer will run and begin the configuration
wizard to set up unattended access.
The first step is to give this computer a name and remote access
Next, you’ll create a TeamViewer account, or you’ll specify the account you
All of the machines that you associate with your account will be easily accessible
from each other.
Once configuration is complete, TeamViewer shows you its main UI and the list
of computers associated with your account.
Connecting to a remote machine
If the setup seemed perhaps longer than you’d like, this part should make up
To connect to a remote machine, double-click on that machine’s name in the
list. That’s all.
In this example, I double-clicked on “NOTENMAC2”, my MacBook Pro. TeamViewer
(installed in Windows XP here) created a remote connection to my Mac and
initiated a remote desktop sesssion. I can now use my Mac almost as if I were
sitting in front of it. Unlike traditional Remote Desktop, if there is
someone actually at the computer, they can also interact and see what’s
A double-click was all it took.
As you can see from my list, I have TeamViewer installed on several of my
personal machines, including my wife’s. That means that I can connect to any of them
from any of them, regardless of where I happen to be.
That is what makes TeamViewer such a great solution for home
But there’s more.
I also have TeamViewer installed on my Andoid tablet, on my Kindle Fire, and
on my Android smartphone.
No, I can’t remote control those devices, but what I can do is connect to
any of my computers from those devices.
I’ve connected to my desktop machine from my phone to get a file while out
in the middle of nowhere (well, a “nowhere” that still had cellular coverage
I’ve connected to my desktop machine from my Kindle Fire while I was sitting
in Starbucks because I needed to check the status of some information there
Yes, it can be a little clunky to drive a desktop PC that assumes a mouse
and keyboard from a touch-screen device that has neither, but it’s
possible. Sometimes, “possible” can be a very convenient thing.
I mentioned above that I don’t bother to setup the VPN. Nothing against the
VPN, but I use something else that works in all the situations I happen to be
I have Dropbox installed on all my devices – computers, tablets, and
If I need a file that’s on a remote computer, I use TeamViewer to connect to
that computer, then on that computer, I copy the desired file to a folder in
I then disconnect.
A few minutes later, the file that I wanted appears in DropBox on the device that I
have and I’m good to go.
I’ve only outlined the basic use of TeamViewer – connecting remotely to one
of your own PCs. In reality, it includes additional features including file
transfers, session recording, chat, and VoIP, and more. (Some features may be
restricted to the commercial versions.)
It really is a full-featured remote access product. And while they have (in
my opinion) priced the commercial version out of the reach of small business,
the fact that they’ve made it available free for personal use makes TeamViewer
a very useful tool for the average individual.
You can see the pricing for the commercial version, as well as a feature
comparison for some of the available purchase levels here.
You can download TeamViewer, free for personal use, directly from their
TeamViewer. Free for personal use, I recommend it.