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Remotely access your computer using TeamViewer

Have you ever been in the situation where you are at work and you want to access something on your home computer? Or perhaps you are at home and need to access something on a work computer. Has someone asked for your help in fixing a problem with their computer? It's not easy if you have to do it over the phone and they are trying to describe what is happening and you are trying to tell them what menu or button to click. In all these cases the solution is to use remote control or remote access software. There are several applications to choose from, but one of the most interesting is TeamViewer It's interesting for three reasons, the first is that it is free for personal use, and the second is that it works on the Apple Mac and iPhone, Windows and Linux PCs. You can use a Windows PC to access a Mac, a Mac to access a Linux PC, a Windows PC to access a Windows PC and so on. All combinations are possible. The third reason is that the software is very easy to use and doesn't need installing.

You run the program on whatever computer you want to access - Windows, Mac or Linux - and it displays an ID and a password - both are numeric. Write them down. You can then run TeamViewer on a Windows or Linux PC, Mac or iPhone and enter the ID and password to take control of it. You can do this from anywhere at any time, even using an iPhone when you're on a train or sitting in Starbucks sipping coffee.

The remote computer's screen is displayed either in a window on your computer or full screen and it can be used just as if you were sitting at the remote computer. The screen updates are slow because it has to be transmitted over the internet, but you can run software at full speed, access files, check your email and perform lots of other tasks too.

One thing to watch out for is that many computers will go into sleep mode if they are inactive for any length of time. TeamViewer won't wake a sleeping computer, so disable sleep mode in the power options.


In this screen shot an Apple Mac running Snow Leopard is being remotely accessed using TeamViewer running on 64-bit Windows 7. The cross-platform capability is a really nice feature and if you put TeamViewer on a USB memory stick you can plug it into any computer to remotely access your home PC or Mac. You can access files, run software, fix problems on friends' and relatives' computers, and so on.