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Ask Slashdot: Best App For Android For Remote Access To Mac Or PC? 165

Posted by timothy
from the not-gonna-have-to-ask-you-to-come-in-on-saturday dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Hi, I need to get remote access to my home Mac and Windows PC. At home, it's basically for watching TV, whereas at the office, I need it to work on files I am not allowed to take out when leaving. I know there's a lot of choice out there, but I need something free and reliable. What do you all recommend?"
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Ask Slashdot: Best App For Android For Remote Access To Mac Or PC?

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  • Easy (Score:4, Informative)

    by mog007 (677810) <Mog007@nospAm.gmail.com> on Thursday January 02, 2014 @12:58PM (#45846833)

    TeamViewer. It's free and easy.

    • Best solution ever! We ended up purchasing enterprise for my department but free works just the same.
    • Re:Easy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by v1 (525388) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @02:14PM (#45847811) Homepage Journal

      TeamViewer has issues you should be aware of.

      A friend showed me how easy it was to use, and we decided to give it a try at our shop, where we do computer sales and service. Being able to do remote support would be very useful, we have several customers that live a good distance away from us and that occasionally need to schedule us to come out and help them, and this would allow us to help them at significantly lower rates.

      We set up team viewer 6 (iirc) and bought one license. Come to find out that it could only be installed on one physical computer. We were used to remote apps that only allow one simultaneous USE at a time, and that's all we needed. Too bad the GM installed it on his computer before we could stop him. So now we have to go into his office to do remote support. (or HE has to do it)

      I discussed this with teamveiwer and they basically told me to buy another seat or get lost. More on principle than cost I think, we continued to use it from that machine. They have a nice tool to create a wrapped installer that you put on your web site and your customers just click to download. It installs, and immediately launches, configures, and connects to us. I must admit that's slick. Too bad it only connected to the GM's computer.

      So more frequently lately I just connect from my computer to the customer the more manual way. It pops up a "for non commercial use only" note on launch but hey we already paid for our license and I'm the only using it so whatever, it works fine. We never use more than one instance at a time, so as far as I see it, we're playing fair, we paid for one instance and are using one instance,

      I had been seeing an update notice for teamviewer and I made the [i]mistake[/i] of running it and it upgraded me to version 7. Now it disconnects me after 15 minutes. Back to 6 I guess. Finally found the old app in a backup and reinstalled it. Nope! They "upgraded" my account online and now I can't use teamviewer 6 anymore. Bastards. I really hate it when computer software actively fights me trying to get my job done. (6 is compatible with 7, the only difference apparently is the timeout they added, so don't be a fool and "upgrade") So they're not on my Good List anymore. I have to pay twice to use once, and they absolutely do NOT care to work with me on it. Greed wins over customer service with them, unfortunately.

      I hate to see that happen with good products. Alsoft DiskWarrior is the same way, incredibly useful product, horrible customer service.

      • by lxs (131946)

        Use VNC to connect from your PC at home to your machine at work. From your work PC use Remote Desktop to take control of your GMs computer and use then Teamviewer to connect to the customer. Easy!

      • by Chas (5144)

        You could have simply uninstalled it from the GM's computer.
        You have a channel license. So they don't care who has the license installed.

        I will agree that their update policy is bullshit.
        We have their 3 seat license. Once we paid for the upgrade literally 2 DAYS before they released a new version. They wanted us to buy the new version again "at a discount price".
        The discount being the upgrade price that was already available on the website which is only a few bucks cheaper than the retail new price.

    • by profplump (309017)

      Only if you're okay with your remote access solution registering with a third-party that writes all of the software involved and with whom you don't have a contract.

    • Got my mom a chromebook which is almost perfect for her. There's 3 current problems for the chromebook I have to solve:

      1) unlike her old mac, I have no way to remote desktop to her machine to fix her problems. Is there any Remote desktop that lets me view a chromebook's screen. Google's own chrome remote desktop runs on everything except chromebooks it seems. Oh the irony.

      2) Chrome books can't print to any USB connected printer. They require a compliant mac or PC to be in the household that they can p

      • by goombah99 (560566)

        btw: I tried to use team viewer but team viewer needs java so it doesn't run on chromebooks.

      • by metamatic (202216)

        Quote: "Chrome Remote Desktop is fully cross-platform. Provide remote assistance to Windows, Mac and Linux users, or access your Windows (XP and above) and Mac (OS X 10.6 and above) desktops at any time, all from the Chrome browser on virtually any device, including Chromebooks."

        So it sounds like it's supposed to work.

        • by goombah99 (560566)

          Quote: "Chrome Remote Desktop is fully cross-platform. Provide remote assistance to Windows, Mac and Linux users, or access your Windows (XP and above) and Mac (OS X 10.6 and above) desktops at any time, all from the Chrome browser on virtually any device, including Chromebooks."

          So it sounds like it's supposed to work.

          It works from Chromebooks to mount other OS desktops but not from other computers to mount the chromebook desktop. Since I'm trying to support the chromebook user I need the latter. I need to view the chromebook. can't do it with google remote desktop or team viewer.

        • by Chas (5144)

          No, that's saying you, from a Chromebook, can support other devices.
          But there doesn't appear to be any good way of remoting into a Chromebook itself.

  • Are you saying that you need a remote access app to stream video from your home PC to a work PC?
    • I have no idea what he's talking about. If he only uses his home PC for watching TV, why does he need to remote into it for work when the files are at work and he can't take them away?

      Am i having a post new year brain fault?
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Yeah, for viewing videos at home, a simple file share would work just fine. As far as files that are supposed to remain at work, accessing them remotely from his android device would probably go against the entire policy. If you can't bring them out on a USB drive, there's no way they're going to set you install a custom server on your work machine. Anything that doesn't require a custom server like DropBox would be out of the question as well.
      • by jedidiah (1196)

        Both of these sound like he needs some sort of "cloud" solution that is local to his home and work environment. Remotely accessing the PC is just overkill.

        Share files? Samba/CIFS.

        Watch TV? Install client for your streaming service or cable provider.

      • Perhaps he has a media center PC which he'd like to drive from his smartphone? Only thing that makes any sense in my mind.

  • by 3.5 stripes (578410) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:01PM (#45846889)

    I don't know if I'd want to use it to watch tv though..

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      "VX Connectbot" for ssh / tunneling setup. It has a few useful fixes from the regular "ConnectBot" app, primarily with keybindings you need to send ctrl keypresses, etc.

      I just use androidvnc for occasional VNC access to my boxes. Use UltraVNC server on Windows, and I think "Chicken of the VNC" server for OSX (it's been a few years, there might be better servers now). And play around with tigervnc on Linux.

      Of course, VNC doesn't do audio... but I imagine you're using it as a remote control for your settop

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        "VX Connectbot" for ssh / tunneling setup. It has a few useful fixes from the regular "ConnectBot" app, primarily with keybindings you need to send ctrl keypresses, etc.

        Get Anysoftkeyboard and SSH for Anysoftkeyboard and you too will have an Android softkeyboard actually useful for controlling UNIX sessions. You will want to change the theme from the default to one which shows the long keypresses.

  • Team Viewer (Score:5, Informative)

    by alta (1263) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:01PM (#45846893) Homepage Journal

    I use teamviewer. Free for personal use. Does what you need.

    Drive my kids nuts when they're on the computer and Daddy randomly connect to see what the heck they're doing. Keeps them on their toes and off questionable sites. With the help of opendns... I'll eventually put in a proxy when they get older though. Preserving what innocence I can...

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:03PM (#45846905) Homepage Journal

    I need it to work on files I am not allowed to take out when leaving.

    Are your bosses going to be cool with you transmitting all that data over innumerable, unsecured pipes they have no control over? Because if they don't want you sneaker-netting the stuff out...

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Doubtful.

      If his IT people are on the ball, he will run into blocked ports and get reported to management, then let go.

      • by pr0fessor (1940368) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:40PM (#45847381)

        I was reminded of a time when I had to do exactly that... It was an awkward situation where an entry level {hourly wage} employee had already placed a request for remote access but had been been denied by his management.

        I like go getters that are willing to put in some extra time to do a good job but if the company doesn't want you taking files home and won't give you remote access then chances are you shouldn't be looking for a way to do it.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        IT cant block 443 and encrypted traffic through there is expected.

        IT cant cope with us worker drones that know way more than they do.

        • by nurb432 (527695)

          Its trivial to block that port except for connection to trusted remote addresses. its also trivial to see any attempt to connect to an unauthorized IP, call it a breech, and fire your sorry ass on the spot if you cant explain yourself well enough. ( oh and if you try to install any sort of client that pops up too, if you could even get it on your PC without ringing the alarm, also easy to do )

          Want to try again, loser?

        • by bloodhawk (813939)

          IT cant block 443 and encrypted traffic through there is expected.

          IT cant cope with us worker drones that know way more than they do.

          Given the first part of your statement I can assure you that "YOU" don't know more than they do.

  • Forward port 3389 to your machine on your router. This won't work with the Home edition of Windows.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microsoft.rdc.android [google.com]

  • by rodrigoandrade (713371) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:03PM (#45846913)
    > I need it to work on files I am not allowed to take
    > out when leaving

    Where I used to work, this is grounds for immediate termination. I'm sure there's a reason you can't take those files home in a portable/flash drive (trade secrets, etc) and you want us to help you cirumvent that restriction?
    • I've got 2 theories about whoever posted this question (submitted as AC? Shocked, I tell you, shocked.):

      1) They want to commit industrial espionage for whatever reason, but aren't smart enough to do it themselves

      2) They work for some sort of group or agency that has an inherent interest in getting internet communities to accidentally help someone commit a crime, thus creating an illusion of culpability for said internet communities.

      5 years ago, #2 would have been too tin-foil-hat crazy even for me; today, I

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        #2 is kind of weird in this context though. It's not like Slashdot is a closed community. Anybody can join at any time, and you don't even have to create an account to post. Slashdot could only be defined as a "community" in the same respects as "people who visit the mall" could be called a "community".
        • Slashdot could only be defined as a "community" in the same respects as "people who visit the mall" could be called a "community".

          Politicians, or rather people with political machinations, regularly use the term "community" to refer to any group of people they feel like lumping together arbitrarily.

          To that end, AC could post a question of something, er, questionable here, an AC could answer it (maybe even the same AC who asked), and Senator Dumbfuck would spend the next day pontificating how Slashdot is a den of terrorists, and that every member of the site should be extra-judicially 'dealt with.' And the MSM would jump right in behin

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I need it to work on files I am not allowed to take out when leaving

      Where I used to work, this is grounds for immediate termination.

      Perhaps they mean that they're not permitted to actually copy the files, but the rules don't prohibit them from logging in and working on them remotely. This is really not all that unusual. They're probably already allowed to log in with the MSRDP client on windows, and they're just looking for the best client to do the same sort of thing from their phone so that they can solve quick problems without even leaving the bar.

  • RDP (Score:5, Informative)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:04PM (#45846929)

    Microsoft's built-in remote display technology.

    The best RDP client for Android is Remote RDP [google.com]

    For the MAC, you could install xrdp [xrdp.org] which provides the same protocol to access linux/osx.

    RDP is a very lightweight protocol, originally created by Citrix way back and bought or licenced by Microsoft, as they do with the bits of Windows that are any good.

    • Re:RDP (Score:5, Informative)

      by Guspaz (556486) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:31PM (#45847285) Homepage

      Microsoft's new RDP client is pretty fantastic. They bought out some company that made a cross-platform RDP client: I've tried both the OS X version and the iOS version (primarily on my iPhone, but also on my iPad), and overall it's worked extremely well. Better than the Windows client, dare I say. It's also available on Android.

      Two big advantages for me on the iPhone: it's very fast (and seems to support some sort of progressive image compression that leads to low latency for getting something up on screen but still high quality as it loads in higher res imagery after) and has a very nice trackpad-like control option. For that mode, you basically can use the screen of the phone as if it were a touchpad, moving around a cursor. This works far better than the usual method most RDP clients use where you just tap on the screen where you want it to click. That's super inaccurate on a phone, while the trackpad style lets you be sure of where you're clicking.

      I don't want to say that there aren't other clients supporting all this stuff, just that I've tried Microsoft's new clients and they work pretty darned well.

      • Only problem I have with MS' client is that you can't pinch zoom like you'd expect... you click on a "move" icon at the top which, for some reason, causes it to zoom in instead. Weird.
        • by Guspaz (556486)

          They fixed that; the icon is gone, and pinch to zoom is now used as expected.

    • For the MAC, you could install xrdp [xrdp.org] which provides the same protocol to access linux/osx.

      And you would get an X session on the Mac. Not too useful. VNC seems to be the preferred choice in the real world.

    • I find PocketCloud [google.com] works great too. Supports RDP and VNC.
  • Is it me or does that rather sound like you're watching TV while in the office and working on company documents at home? Confusing summary perhaps but if not then my recommendation isn't going to involve an Android app! ;^)
    Also...
    "...whereas at the office, I need it to work on files I am not allowed to take out when leaving..."
    ...sounds like it would violate your contract and get you fired but IANAL.
    To at least try and provide some useful response however I tried the one and only android implementation
  • by BingmanO (1365957) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:07PM (#45846957)
    I find 2X Client RDP/Remote Desktop to work very well on the Android. It has full support for RDP in Windows. not sure about Mac, never had to use it.
    • I also use 2X to avoid being a bypass tray "printer sprinter" for custom photoshop print jobs. I don't think it works past a LAN though but I've never tested it.
    • My only annoyance with it is that I can't use the keyboard of my choice. I do like how they do the mouse, though.

    • by DdJ (10790)

      I find 2X Client RDP/Remote Desktop to work very well on the Android. It has full support for RDP in Windows. not sure about Mac, never had to use it.

      RDP will not connect to MacOS. This should not be surprising -- it's the built-in protocol from Microsoft.

      The remote display protocol that Apple built in is based on VNC, and can be configured to work with standard VNC clients. So my answer to the original user's question would be "use your favorite RDP client for the Windows boxes, and your favorite VNC cli

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have been using Logmein Professional for the past month and it has been awesome, it will steam HD video but I use a Plex Media Server for that (especially with cloud sync).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    My god, I've read the "summary" 5 or 6 times and still can't parse wtf the submitter is looking for.

    - Android is only mentioned in the title, nowhere in the rest of the submission
    - They need to use remote access to their home machines at home to watch TV
    - They need to access files at work that can't be taken off-premises? Ignoring the assumed company policy violations, how does remote access to their home machines help that at all?

    4 incomprehensible sentences and we're supposed to suggest solutions? Holy

    • Don't worry, 2014 is new. It will get worse...

  • Depending on how your organization has set things up, I installed the Juniper Pulse client on my Android.

    The 2X RDP client used to work and then stopped, but I suspect that's more on the VPN side than the RDP side.

    For us, since we're already using the Juniper VPN stuff, the Android access was pretty darned easy. Awfully handy for keeping tabs on emails while on vacation.

  • by PNutts (199112) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:14PM (#45847041)

    Watch TV while at home. Work on files while at work.

  • by Maximalist (949682) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @01:17PM (#45847083)

    Splashtop works, but isn't free. I do find it is smoother and less buggy feeling than the free VNCs. There's supposed to be a google chrome RDP plugin too, but I've not played with that yet.

  • PocketCloud's fake mouse is quite useful, even on a 4.something inch screen. It costs money, but you didn't rule that out.
  • Assuming this is going to be a company official solution, the IT department should look at Citrix Marketplace and XenDesktop. This will allow use of Citrix Receiver on PC Web browsers, Android devices, and iOS devices.

    This is up to par with security, it can be configured to whatever security policies a company has, even including a gateway that one uses a SecurID token to get past, and it is a system that is engineered to handle various corporate and governmental regulations.

    Yes, there are other ways, but

    • An enterprise solution like Citrix is hardly a solution for a home user. We've been using NoMachine for the past six months and now they've released their Android app, my wife and I are well chuffed for sharing files and doing remote work (we are both architects)
  • I need to get remote access to my home PC. At home, it's basically for watching TV, whereas at the office, I need it to work on files I am not allowed to take out when leaving.

    The best sense I can make of this is that you want to watch TV on the job and work at home on documents you are not cleared to access outside the premises. Security at that level comes with teeth that bite. Hard.

  • Oh wait...

  • Jump Desktop is very good and SSH tunneling is built-in.
  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Thursday January 02, 2014 @02:00PM (#45847641)

    If your security policy forbids removing files from the workplace, are you sure remote access isn't going to get you hot water as well? From a security standpoint, remote access to the same files you're not allowed to bring home is pretty much one of the same.

    That said, the best free way of accessing a remote desktop is going to be VNC running on the localhost endpoint and then an openssh connection of some sort (forward or reverse) to authenticate and tunnel. You could also use FreeNX but configuration has historically be a PITA.

  • by carp3_noct3m (1185697) <slashdot.warriors-shade@net> on Thursday January 02, 2014 @02:04PM (#45847697)

    SSH is what you should be using as your connection core, and then using VNC on top if you want a gui. On windows, I've found the cygwin based SSH servers superior (have tested almost every single windows SSH server that is FOSS).

    Side note: Wow it's been a long time since I logged into /.

  • LogMeIn (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RedBear (207369) <redbear@@@redbearnet...com> on Thursday January 02, 2014 @03:44PM (#45848899) Homepage

    Kind of surprised nobody has mentioned LogMeIn. It's free for personal use on up to 10 computers. There's a LogMeIn app for iOS and Android, which is free*. Then there's LogMeIn Ignition ($30), which lets you do file transfers, printing and other useful things if you're using LogMeIn Pro on the computers, which I think is something like $70 per computer per year. I bought LogMeIn Ignition for my iPad a couple years back and I've been using the free version of LogMeIn to connect remotely to Windows and Macs for years. Seems to work well even on relatively slow connections and on networks with fairly restricted firewall setups on either or both ends. I've even used it over a 3G connection, connecting to a 27" iMac no less.

    LogMeIn are the ones who bought Hamachi, which lets you easily set up secure private networks between collections of Macs and PCs. Also free for personal use, up to five computers or something like that. Been using Hamachi to get secure remote access to certain oddball ports/services on remote computers for several years now. Hamachi however seems to have trouble connecting if certain ports are blocked on the network, so I've had much better luck using LogMeIn for remote desktop connections.

    Not affiliated, just a satisfied user of both products. I haven't had any significant experience with TeamViewer so I can't make any direct comparisons, but I do know that when I was checking them out I didn't much care for how anal retentive TeamViewer is about licensing.

    * I can't find the free LogMeIn app for Android. Maybe there isn't one. So I guess that leaves LogMeIn Ignition for Android, which is $30. It's one of the most expensive apps I ever put on my iPad (1st Gen), but it's been helpful enough and reliable enough that I think I can recommend purchasing it for Android if you like LogMeIn, especially if you want to do easy file transfers between your computer and your device.

    • by bessie (212155)

      I have LogMeIn Professional and use it for work. It works well - my main problem with it is that they had a security leak (or sold their user address database), as all the folks who used tagged email addresses for LogMeIn started getting spam on those tagged email addresses.

      To this day, LogMeIn refuses to admit there was any leak or anything was sold or anything of the sort. This, despite quite a few tech professionals who know what they're doing seeing this spam.

      I still use LogMeIn, but I trust them a he

      • by Zaelath (2588189)

        I've had the same problem with other vendors and I'm beginning to think it's not a leak so much as an addition to the "common list of names we spam".

        If you create your vendor addresses as "vendor5123" or some other random addition and they still get spam then we have a much better connection between cause and effect (alternatively the people reporting the spam might already have an infection that is sending their "TO:" addresses out to a 3rd party, but that's possibly even less likely)

  • When I was working for a small IT shop, I was using Jump RDP to access clients' computers from my tablet when we already had them set up with RDP access. Now, the cool thing about Jump RDP is, for computers without a static IP address, it has a companion app which you install on the computer which uses your email address to negate the need for the static IP. Further, if you don't have RDP set up on a computer for whatever reason, it can install a VNC server, and Jump RDP will connect by that. When I boug

  • On a personal level, I have always liked the NX Protocol [wikipedia.org]. It's easily installable on Ubuntu [ubuntu.com] or CentOS [centos.org]. You can choose between the free and open source route, or for an enterprise roadmap, NoMachine [nomachine.com] reigns supreme in my experience.

    NoMachine packages [nomachine.com] its free client/server solution for what seems to be any gnu/linux distro. Its IOS and Android clients are due for release in the coming months and can solve the original poster's "problem". I have no affiliation with nomachine other than being a bit of a fan due

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