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.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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