Control your PC or Mac from your iPhone, iPad, or Android device

Control your PC or Mac from your iPhone, iPad, or Android device

Summary: Why sit at a desk when you could be out and about and still be able to control your PC or Mac from your smartphone or tablet? Here's how I do it.


Time to answer a question from the Hardware 2.0 mailbox:

Is there a simple way I can control my desktop (and, if possible, my notebook) from my iPad or iPhone? I've had a look but I quickly got lost in a jargon! Is there something easy?

With the summer upon us – for a while at any rate – people want to spend more time away from their PCs and Macs. But that doesn't mean they don't want to be out of the loop. And a great way to do this is to set up your smartphone or tablet with the ability to remotely access your system.

I've tried dozens of solutions for controlling my systems remotely, but the one I keep coming back to – and the one that I use myself – is LogMeIn.

(Source: LogMeIn)

There are a number of reasons why I recommend LogMeIn over the competition:

  • Easy to set up – you don't need to know anything about networking!
  • There's a free version of the service that is ideally suited to 90 percent of users
  • It's platform agnostic, which means that you can drive PCs or Macs from other PCs, Macs, iOS or Android devices
  • Access multiple devices
  • You can wake up a system that's off remotely if that system supports "wake on LAN" (most modern systems do)
  • Connection between devices is encrypted
  • Built-in multi-monitor support
  • Syncs your clipboard, so you can copy data from a remote device

If you want more features – such as file transfer, remote printing, file sharing and more, then this is available for $69.95 per year. You can check out the features matrix here.

As long as you are in a 3G or Wi-Fi zone, you can get access to your systems. Screen quality will adjust according to your connections speed, but even at its worst, it is good enough for most applications.

You're probably wondering if it's really possible to control a desktop system from something as small as an iPhone? It is. You don't want to be doing something involved and complex like creating spreadsheets or editing images, but for quick and simple tasks, it is more than adequate.

Highly recommended!

Topics: Mobility, Android, iOS, iPhone, iPad

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  • Mac users get shafted . . .

    "You can check out the features matrix here."

    Looks like Mac users are getting shafted - missing a lot of features, but paying the same price as Windows users.
  • Too funny, you just can't make this stuff up

    "You're probably wondering if it's really possible to control a desktop system from something as small as an iPhone? It is."

    So Windows 8 tablets are a fail because legacy desktop apps are impossible to control on a 10" screen.

    iphones are a win because legacy desktop apps can be controlled from a 4" screen.

    Too funny, you just can't make this stuff up.

    If you are ever, evern once, going to control a legacy desktop, you will want either Android or Windows 8. Never ios. Android and Windows 8 support precision pointing devices. ios doesn't.
  • But, you are 20 times as slow

    A RDP app is the very first app I bought the day I got my first smartphone.

    (I know how to configure my PCs for public access, so I don't need LogMe In.)

    However, while you have full access to full blown computing, after 2 minutes of use, you quickly realize that you are operating easily 20 times or more as slow. A simple thing like pressing Esc or Ctrl-Z on the notebook can be done in 0.2 seconds. On the phone, whether RDP or LogMe In, if you can do it in 5 seconds that is very good.

    RDP is great for emergencies and give true universality to the mobile phone. I can do EVERYTHING with the phone, if I want and need to.
  • Teamviewer

    Ever try Teamviewer? If so, I am surprised you chose logmein due to it's limited features.
    I am comparing the free versions of both.
    • Yes I Have, It works superbly, and I use it too much.

      Connecting to my Windows desktop from my Nexus 7 using it is simple, and productive. When it became my go-to app I realized what a great job Microsoft has done with Win8. Why should I need to use a remote app when i can have a full desktop when I need it on a 7 or 8 inch tablet.
    • Re: Teamviewer

      I would also have to suggest giving TeamViewer a try. It has pretty much full functionality in its free version - at least all the functionality that a typical user would need. I've actually forgotten I was using it on my 24" monitor at work, before.
  • RealVNC is my preferred solution.

    Servers for the major OSes (OSX, Windows, and Linux) & clients for pretty much all platforms.
  • other options.

    RDP and teamviewer on windows,
    OpenNX on linux.