There are times where you want or need to access your Windows PC from afar. It isn’t often mind you unless you are doing remote support or the like but sometimes you need to find that file you left on your PC desktop instead of uploading to OneDrive. After all, if you had it in OneDrive, you could easily access it from your Windows Phone.
Microsoft makes a Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone and it works flawlessly for just such a need. The app is a free download but there is a little bit of configuration you need to do in order for you to be able to access your Windows PC from your Windows Phone. The good thing though is that once you have it set up you will be good-to-go from that point forward. I’m going to divide this How To into two parts. The first part will cover what you need to do on your Windows PC and the second what you need to do on your Windows Phone.
The first thing we need to discuss is the IP address or host name of your Windows PC. Doing a Remote Desktop to your PC will require you to know one or both of these. If you are accessing your PC from within the same network (same WiFi network as an example), then all you need to know is your computer’s name. If your PC is part of a domain then you will likely need the full domain name such as computer.domain.com. This will vary depending on how your domain is configured and you may need to contact your administrator for exact instructions on how to do this.
If you are accessing your Windows PC from a different network, the game gets a bit more interesting. First, you have to make sure that you have access to do a remote desktop session which may or may not be allowed. Second, if you are accessing your PC at home from afar, you will need to know the public IP address that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has assigned to you. It is also likely that that address changes from time-to-time. As a general rule it is easier to access your PC from within the same network than it is from outside it.
For the rest of this How To I am going to assume you have the network element sorted out.
The next thing you will need to do is configure your Windows PC to allow for Remote Desktop sessions. In Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, go
to Control Panel and go to System and Security. Towards the middle of the screen you will see the option to allow remote access to your computer. Click this radio button to enable it. When you do this, a details pane will open.
First, you need to click the radio button to allow “remote connections to this computer”. This effectively turns the feature on for your Windows PC. Secondly, you will need to click the Select Users button to select which users on your domain or users on your PC that you want to grant this access to on your PC. By default your login account will have access but you can add others by typing in their domain user name or their local PC user name. If
you use your Microsoft ID to log into your Windows PC, that too will be enabled by default and will be your credentials to Remote Desktop to your PC.
When you are done you can close Control Panel on your Windows PC.
The configuration of your Windows Phone for Remote Desktop is super easy as it is all driven from the Remote Desktop app. That app is free.
Once you have the app installed, open it and tap the + icon at the bottom to add a new PC to the configuration. Remember that computer name or IP address you needed earlier? This is where you put it into your Windows Phone. If you are on
the same network this is generally just the computer name or if you are on a domain it is computer.domain.com. Again, if you are doing this from within your work network, ask your administrator for help.
Once you have a PC added you will see it in the list of computers that you have configured. Tap it to bring up the login credentials page. Here you put in your username and password to access your Windows PC. This will be either your default login for your PC (which could be your Microsoft account) and password or it will be the user you have granted access to do a remote desktop session on your PC. Once the credentials are entered, tap connect to connect to your Windows PC.
At this point you should see your Windows PC on your Windows Phone. You can tap the keyboard at the top of the screen to bring up the keyboard along with other keyboard commands such as the Windows button so you can easily navigate around on your PC from your Windows Phone. When you are done simply close the Remote Desktop app on your Windows Phone and the connection to your PC will be terminated.
I can’t stress enough that in order to do this How To you will need to have some basic working knowledge of computer networks. While the Remote Desktop app for Windows Phone does make it very easy, it is the initial configuration of your PC that catches people out. Also, if you are accessing your PC remotely, your ISP or work network may not allow that to happen through their firewalls and other security mechanisms.
For more How To’s for Windows and Windows Phone, be sure to check out my How To pages. Have a How To suggestion? Let me know using the Contact page. If I post it I will be sure to give you the credit.