How to set up a remote desktop

Desktop computers aren't just antiquated behemoths quietly gathering dust in your parents' house. They also offer an often overlooked processing resource for mobile users and a viable alternative to cloud-based storage. All you need is a means of accessing it remotely.

For three of the most common consumer operating systems - Windows , Mac, and Chrome - the initial setup process is essentially the same: setup the admin program on the "local" computer (the one you'll be using ), setup a client program on the "remote" computer (the one you'll be accessing), then create a network connection (likely over the internet) between the two. However each OS has its own install wrinkles. Here are the first steps for a Windows system.

Windows uses a baked-in remote access program known as Remote Desktop Connection and, so long as you have two computers with Windows (or at least a Mac running the WinRDC client) and an internet connection, you'll be able to access the programs, files, and network resources from one on the other.

Before you get started, however, make sure you have login access to both systems (and if your user account doesn't have a password, you'll need to add one before the system will allow a remote connection). Also, if you're trying to access a remote PC with a local Mac, first download and install WinRDC from the Mac App Store.