If you find that you need to help your friends and family members with IT support on their Mac or access files that are held on a distant Apple computer, here’s how you can do it from a Windows PC.
Can I use Microsoft Remote Desktop to control a Mac?
Sadly not. This software allows remote devices (including Macs) to access and control Windows machines but doesn’t work in the other direction.
How to use Chrome Remote Desktop to control a Mac from a PC
Using Google's tool is the only free method currently available (that we’ve managed to find), as all the other solutions involve signing up to subscription services.
To be able to use Chrome Remote Desktop the first thing you need is to install the app (as well as the Chrome web browser itself if you don't have it already) on both Mac and PC. So, navigate to the Chrome Remote Desktop site, then on the Mac select the Remote Access option in the upper right corner.
On the next page you’ll see the Set up remote access box which includes a blue circle that contains a downward pointing arrow. Click this to download the app.
You’ll most likely see another window open up with the Chrome Web Store, so click Add to Chrome > Add Extension and the app should download. When this is done, click the Accept & Install button to move things along.
A window should appear with the Chrome Remote Desktop Host.pkg file inside. Double click this and follow the installation instructions to complete the process.
With the installation done, you’ll now be asked to choose a name for your Mac. The app will provide one automatically, but you can change it if you wish. Whatever you decide, make sure to make a note of it before clicking Next to continue. Now, you’ll need to set a 6-digit PIN code, confirm it, then click Start.
A pop-up box will appear with a message informing you that in order to allow remote access to your Mac, the accessibility settings will need to be enabled.
Click the Open Accessibility Preferences button, click the Lock icon and enter your system password to make changes, then select the tick-box for ChromeRemoteDekstopHost and click the Lock icon once more.
Return to the pop-up box that told you about Accessibility Preferences and click Next followed by OK and your Mac.
There’s a few more steps left, the first of which is to create an access code that you’ll use to connect. So, on the Chrome Remote Desktop page, select the Remote Support option at the top of the page and in the Get Support box click Generate Code.
Another pop-up box will appear telling you that Accessibility Preferences have to be changed, so follow the instructions then click the Generate Code button again and write down the one that appears.
Now, onto the PC.
Setting things up on the PC are a similar affair. Visit the Chrome Remote Desktop site in Chrome and click on the Remote Support option in the top right corner.
You’ll be prompted to install the Chrome Remote Desktop app, so click Install and follow the instructions to do so. When it’s all sorted out, go back to the Chrome Remote Desktop page and in the box marked Give Support enter the access code that you created on the Mac then click Connect.
You Mac will ask you if you want to allow access, so click Share and you’ll be connected. The Windows side can operate your Mac now although it can be a bit rudimentary.
You’ll notice a little blue semi-circle on the right of the Windows display. Clicking this opens up a menu with various options for the way the app behaves. Just be sure to use the Full Screen option to make it easier to move between apps and access the Dock.
When you’re finished, click the Stop Sharing option at the bottom and things will return to normal once more.
If you want additional features such as sharing files, collaboration, and being able to print from the remote device, then you’ll want to use one of the many subscription-based services that offer these capabilities and more. The most popular solutions include LogMeIn, RealVNC and TeamViewer, with various price tiers on offer.
Should you find you need to connect to a PC when you're away from it, you'll appreciate our guide on how to use Remote Desktop Connection in Windows 10.