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What is Chrome Remote Desktop?

Chrome Remote Desktop homepage
(Image credit: Chrome Remote Desktop)

What is Chrome Remote Desktop?

What does Chrome Remote Desktop do? 

Chrome Remote Desktop is a simple-to-use remote desktop (opens in new tab) tool that offers a quick set-up and multiple advantages. These include:

  • Simple desktop connections: it's easy for other users to connect to your desktop from any location in the world without any complex setup
  • Sharing screens: users can share their screen and collaborate in real time on the same device, regardless of location
  • It's simple to set up (opens in new tab): you simply need to have the Chrome browser installed to use Chrome Remote Desktop, and there's no need for advanced training to understand it
  • It's entirely free: unlike other remote desktop tools, Chrome Remote Desktop is entirely free to use
  • It works across multiple devices: support for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS operating systems is included, so no specialist devices are needed to use it

How departments can use Chrome Remote Desktop 

Screenshot of Chrome Remote Desktop dashboard

With Chrome Remote Desktop costing nothing to use, many different business departments can utilize its features (Image credit: Google)

IT

IT departments benefit most of all from remote desktop software. By using Chrome Remote Desktop, an IT department can access an employee's computer remotely without needing to physically respond to the issue. This means that an IT department does not need to be in the same building or even country as the rest of the company in order to work effectively. 

It also ensures that remote workers are still able to be supported by an IT department, whether they are traveling for work or working from home. The only downside is that it's not possible to reboot a machine remotely using the service.

Customer service

Customer service thrives on helping a customer with limited friction. Chrome Remote Desktop is easy to install, so it takes seconds to get set up with even an inexperienced technology user. Its options for Remote Support offers remote users a one-time code to access a desktop to troubleshoot issues, meaning the customer can feel safe and secure. 

While there's no built-in chat, users can communicate via phone or live chat while the customer service worker fixes the issue. Ultimately, the big strength here is that most users have Chrome installed already, so it takes moments to get started.

Finance

Chrome Remote Desktop is an entirely free-to-use tool, which will instantly delight finance departments. While it might not be quite as advanced as some paid remote desktop tools, it works well for small businesses in particular who have tight budgets to consider. 

Finance departments can also benefit from Chrome Remote Desktop's screen share function when dealing with certain scenarios, and needing to discuss issues with employees. This proves particularly useful if two departments are located remotely from each other. Also, for the remote finance worker, it's useful to be able to access a work system remotely when security is paramount for such sensitive information.

HR

Frequently, a HR department may need to discuss issues with employees or other departments. While doing so without extra stimulus can work, being able to share one's screen is much more convenient. By using Chrome Remote Desktop, the HR staff can share various slides and presentations in a bid to lay out plans for the company's staff budgets, as well as easily discuss rotas and similar. 

Much like a finance department, they can also access sensitive material stored on a remote work machine, while knowing that they are fully protected by encryption.

Marketing

Marketing departments typically undertake a lot of collaboration to get to the end product. By using Chrome Remote Desktop, users can work together to edit documents in real time or share screens and discuss what a product or design looks like. 

While Chrome Remote Desktop does not offer multi-session handling, it's ideal for a couple of employees to look at together, regardless of their location. It also enables users to jump into their work system any time that inspiration grabs them and they need to add a contribution.

Features and benefits of Chrome Remote Desktop 

zoomed in image of Google's homepage

Benefits of using Chrome Remote Desktop include its ease of use, its compatibility with multiple OSs, and its reliability (Image credit: Unsplash)

It's free

Chrome Remote Desktop's greatest benefit is that it is entirely free-to-use. All users need to do is install Google's Chrome browser to each system that they wish to connect to. There's no need to sign up for any subscription services, or to buy one-time installs either. Because of that, it's particularly well suited to small businesses that have limited budgets for software but still need the benefits. 

Limited training required

Chrome Remote Desktop is very simple to use. Providing the system has Chrome installed, anyone can start using it within a matter of seconds. Because it's so easy to use, there's little need to train staff extensively on how to use it. It's the kind of tool that can be picked up as needed. 

That lends itself well to limited training budgets, as well as businesses where staff generally know how to use computers on a basic level. 

Works across different operating systems

Chrome Remote Desktop works on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS. It also works via Android and iOS, so it's easy to use across multiple different systems. There's no need to use a dedicated operating system, or worry about incompatibility issues. 

It's fairly flexible, and merely requires the use of Chrome for the most part. Because of that, there's no need to update work devices to specific operating systems, saving money and training time.

Works even when host user is logged off

Even if the host user is logged off and not currently running Chrome, a remote user can connect to it. That means permanent access to the system, providing one knows the password: something that's likely to be useful for employees who work across their home system and work computer, logging in remotely as and when needed.

This means that setup is even simpler and less complex than anticipated, proving very convenient. 

Reliable service

Chrome Remote Desktop is highly reliable because it's powered by Google. It uses the latest open web technologies like WebRTC, so it's very secure; plus, the way computers connect to each other means there's not much that can go wrong. Only if the system is switched off are there any issues. 

Otherwise, it's always consistently simple to connect to a system remotely using the software. 

How much does Chrome Remote Desktop cost? 

Chrome Remote Desktop is entirely free-to-use. One of its greatest strengths is that there's no need to pay anything to use it; all you need to do is have an existing Google account. From there, you simply sign in to Chrome Remote Desktop to start using it. 

For most users, it takes mere seconds to get started. Smartphone users will need to download an app to use it, so be wary of any potential data usage charges; however, these should not be substantial.

It's also important to be aware of any nefarious apps referred to as Chrome Remote Desktop that attempt to charge users for the privilege. Only access the official one to ensure it's entirely free. The only downside to Chrome Remote Desktop being free is that it lacks a few features such as built-in chat, drag-and-drop file transfers, and multi-monitor support.


Chrome Remote Desktop FAQs

laptop open on Google homepage

Find out how to use Chrome Remote Desktop and more below (Image credit: Unsplash)

How do I use Chrome Remote Desktop?

Using Chrome Remote Desktop is very simple. Go to its website to sign in and start. From there, you can follow onscreen instructions to get started. It has some limitations, such as certain button commands that won't work, so you may need to use some workarounds.

Is Google Chrome Remote Desktop safe?

Yes, Chrome Remote Desktop is very secure. It is built on Google's secure infrastructure, using the latest open web technologies like WebRTC. Also, it requires a PIN every time someone tries to access a device remotely. PINs must be at least six characters long. 

The Remote Support feature provides users with a one-time access code that expires after the first connection. Also, users are asked if they wish to keep sharing their screen every 30 minutes for added peace of mind. 

Can you use Chrome Remote Desktop without signing in?

Yes. By going to https://remotedesktop.google.com/headless (opens in new tab) on a device you don't mind using, you can set up access to the remote machine, so there is no need to sign in with your Google account.

Most users won't need to worry about this, but it's convenient for someone unsure about using their Google details. 

Is Remote Desktop better than TeamViewer? 

That depends on what you need from your remote desktop software. Both are similar in nature, but TeamViewer (opens in new tab) is more designed for online collaboration, which means it's better for sharing files and communicating within the app. 

However, it's not free, which can be off-putting for businesses on a budget. It also requires a faster internet connection to work reliably: take a look at TeamViewer alternatives (opens in new tab) to get a sense of competitor platforms.

Conversely, Chrome Remote Desktop lacks file sharing functionality, which could be a deal-breaker for some. Also, there's no chat function built-in, no remote printing, and no ability to reboot the remote machine and automatically reconnect. However, it's ideal for most other tasks.

Can Chrome Remote Desktop wake from sleep? 

No, it can't. That's one of its main disadvantages compared to other remote desktop software. It's not possible to wake a sleeping computer using Chrome Remote Desktop, so you need to make sure all computers you wish to connect to are awake.

This can generally be adjusted in the power savings settings on your system, but you'll need to do this before using it remotely.  

Main takeaways

  • Chrome Remote Desktop is cheap: thanks to being free-to-use, it's ideal for a small business with a limited budget, and offers most of what is needed from such software
  • It's easy to use: taking seconds to set up means there's no need to spend hours training staff to use it, which will prove useful across the board
  • It's a little limited: Chrome Remote Desktop covers all the basics, but it doesn't offer drag-and-drop file transfers or built-in chat, which limits its collaboration tools
  • It's ideal for support: thanks to its one-off PIN option, it's ideal for support purposes on a short-term basis
  • Some companies may need more: some businesses may prefer to spend money on a more well-rounded solution after trying out Chrome Remote Desktop

Further reading on remote desktops

It's important to consider which of the best remote desktop software (opens in new tab) tools suit your needs most.

If you opt for Microsoft, make sure you learn how to use Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection (opens in new tab) via the RDP (opens in new tab) protocol, or how to use remote desktop on Windows 10 (opens in new tab). We've also reviewed the RemotePC (opens in new tab) platform from IDrive (opens in new tab), one of the best cloud storage (opens in new tab) services which can be used on Apple OSs: discover how to use remote desktop on Mac (opens in new tab) and how to remote desktop from Mac to Windows (opens in new tab)

For Linux users, it's wise to see which services offer the best remote desktop for Linux (opens in new tab), and understand how to remote desktop into Ubuntu (opens in new tab).

Jennifer is a roving tech freelancer with over 10 years experience. Her main areas of interest are all things B2B, smart technology, wearables, speakers, headphones, and anything gaming related. Her bylines include T3, FitandWell, Top Ten Reviews, Eurogamer, NME and many more. In her spare time, she enjoys the cinema, walking, and attempting to train her pet guinea pigs. She is yet to succeed.