How-To Geek

Access Desktops on the Road with TeamViewer for Android & iPhone

With TeamViewer for Android or iOS, remote desktop connections to Windows, Mac or Linux are a snap. It’s free for non-commercial use and easy to set up — no fussing with firewall rules, ports or IP addresses required.

TeamViewer is one of the remote-access programs most favored by our readers. While there are other ways to access desktops from the palm of your hand, none are quite as easy to set up. We’ll be using the Android app in this article, but the iOS app should work the same way.

Getting It

TeamViewer apps are available in both Google’s Android Market and Apple’s App Store.

Trying It Out

You can try TeamViewer out without installing anything on your computer. Enter 12345 as the TeamViewer ID (no password required), and tap Connect to Partner in the app. You’ll connect to TeamViewer’s demonstration Windows session, where you can get a feel for the interface.

TeamViewer Setup

TeamViewer is available as free download for Windows, Mac and Linux desktops. We’ve covered the desktop version in more detail in the past.

TeamViewer is so simple to install and set up that you could have a person who needs help with their computer install it. TeamViewer can even be run without installation, if the user doesn’t have administrator permissions.

Depending on how you want to use TeamViewer, you can run it manually or have it always run in the background. Select “No (Default)” if you want to run TeamViewer manually, with a different code each time, or select “Yes” if you want TeamViewer to run as a service, with a permanent password.

Launch TeamViewer and you’ll see your desktop’s TeamViewer ID and a randomly generated passcode. Plug these into the TeamViewer app on your mobile device to connect.

Using TeamViewer

When someone’s connected to your computer, you’ll see a TeamViewer panel on your screen. From the panel, you can see who’s connected, disconnect them or prevent them from controlling your computer.

TeamViewer shows you its input instructions when you connect. The instructions are mostly what you’d expect from a touch-screen application — pinch to zoom, drag your finger over the screen to move the cursor, and tap once to left-click. To drag an item, tap it twice, holding down the second time and moving your finger. You can right-click by tapping with two fingers or tapping the mouse-shaped icon on the bottom of the screen.

To type something, tap the keyboard icon at the bottom of the screen and you’ll see your device’s keyboard. TeamViewer offers the usual modifier keys, such as Ctrl, Alt and the Windows key,  at the top of the screen.

The magnifying glass icon allows you to zoom in and out of the screen, to see more at a glance or view a certain area in more detail.

The wrench icon offers common commands, such as sending a Ctrl-Alt-Delete signal or rebooting the remote desktop. The gear icon shows TeamViewer’s options screen, which has options for controlling the graphical settings on the remote system to increase performance.

Tap the X icon to disconnect when you’re done.

We’ve also covered using VNC and SSH clients for remote access from Android in the past, as well as connecting to a Windows remote desktop from iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.

Do you prefer another remote access solution? Let us know in the comments.

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

  • Published 02/23/12

Comments (10)

  1. CCroom

    I have used the PC version of TeamViewer since V.3 and it is just indispensable.Especially when I’m in Australia or New Zealand and need to connect to my desktop at home. Have been using the Android version on my Lenovo pad for the last few weeks and it is just as easy to use. A very solid product.

  2. Anonymous

    If it’s free then why do they make you create an account?

    I’d love to try it out but if I have to sign up and be tracked like an ankle-bracelet wearing convict – for something that’s supposed to be “free” (as in speech) – then I don’t think I’ll do it. It would be nice to know these things ahead of time.

  3. 99er

    @Anon, the benefit of the account is the ability to have your machines on file when you need to access them, rather having to punch in the identifier and pass code every time you want to access that machine. It’s great for when you want to setup unintended access to a machine. The software is free for personal use, and not business.

    You can still use the software without a account as well, but those features I mentioned above won’t be available.

  4. Chris Hoffman


    I wrote this whole article and went through the process without signing up for an account.

  5. Nick

    This teamviewer is really great, i use it for supporting my parents computers and other family members. Solid!

  6. r

    teamviewer is a fine product. I use it regularly whenever an employee or client outside the office needs tech support. Much easier then having to explain steps over the phone.

  7. Anonymous

    Team Viewer is a great product! Don’t get me wrong. But when I went to download it from Team Viewer’s web site (from the URL provided) I was asked to provide some personal info just to download it. I never even got to installing or configuring anything. Maybe I got click-jacked or something, I don’t know. But I was definitely asked to provide some info to Team Viewer when I attempted to download it. That didn’t sit well with me so I didn’t do it and aborted the download.

    So if I have to pay to get something that’s supposed to be “free” then that’s misleading. It’s outright fraudulent if money is involved (which wasn’t the case here). I consider “pay” as anything that benefits someone else even if it’s my own info that someone else can use to make money with. Maybe the entity taking my info might not make the first buck but that doesn’t stop someone else from doing it. And in the end, I usually end up paying in time when I have to endure endless spam and countless telemarketers all because I “registered” or filled out a form somewhere. After all, time is money!

    So if Team Viewer is truly free then please provide a valid URL where I can “freely” download it. That’s the first hurdle for me, at least. Then if there’s any sort of form filling or registration involved where users like me or my remote client are required to provide any other info to anyone else other than maybe a public IP address then it would be nice knowing that too.

  8. Chris Hoffman

    “I consider “pay” as anything that benefits someone else”

    Well, you pay for everything then. You pay for How-To Geek by looking at advertisements, etc.

    I can click the download button on the main page here, download and install TeamViewer without giving any personal information:

    The only thing I’m asked is if I’m going to use TeamViewer for personal or business use — only personal use is free.

  9. Lee Frederickscii

    I can connect my computers but my Android phone(GT I9100) always get this error:

    “Protocol negotiation failed. Please try again!”

    How do I solve this?

  10. Chris Hoffman

    @Lee Frederickscii

    I haven’t encounter this error before, but I just Googled it.

    Some people suggest restaring TeamViewer on your computer and some suggest restarting your computer entirely.

    Some people also mention that it may be a problem with the “permanent password” feature, if you use that instead of a one-time, temporary password.

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