Remote Desktop: Biggest Time Saver of 2012 (Access Your Files from Anywhere)

Can I tell you how to get your own personal assistant, 100% for free?

The "secret" is installing remote desktop software on your computer -- I have been using it for well over a decade and I hope you have too.

Ok, it isn't a "real" assistant, but this is a way you can remotely see your screen, click around, and even use the keyboard as if you were right there at the computer. In fact, if someone happens to be home looking at your computer screen, it looks like it's possessed, because you're controlling it! Here's where it really came in handy...

The other day I needed to start (and present) on a webinar, and I was a 30 minute drive from home. At present there is no easy way to present a webinar from a mobile device using GoToWebinar. But you know what I did instead?

  • I had a program called "LogMeIn" (free) installed on my home computer
  • I used the "LogMeIn" app ($30) on my iPhone to remotely login, and start the webinar from that computer
  • I switched the "audio mode" on that webinar from presenting on the microphone, to calling in via telephone
  • I called into that number on my phone, and spoke into the phone while presenting the webinar and viewing questions

I have been using remote desktop technology for well over a decade (I used to use "pcAnywhere" in high school and college) and what I like about LogMeIn is that you can connect via your iPhone, iPad, Windows PC or Mac.

Anytime you need to...

  1. Get access to that file or spreadsheet you have been working on
  2. Check PayPal stats without tripping any red flags on your account (even overseas)
  3. Process video files, start webinars
  4. Even leave a document open so I can just switch to it

Because of this app, I don't have to worry about having "that one file uploaded" before I leave, or even carry my laptop along on most trips. As long as I have a 3G or Wifi connection, I know I can use my computer.

I would even go as far as to say that "remote desktop" software is my favorite app of 2012 and probably my biggest time saver to-date.

Question: Do you use remote desktop software on your computer? Why or why not?

Filed in: iPhoneProductivity

Comments (48)

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  1. Rob Cornish says:

    Great info here Robert, thank you.

    I used to use remote software a while back in my last job. Since going into internet marketing I haven’t really had the need as I mostly work from home. But this is going to change with more traveling that I’ll be doing going forward so your post here will be very handy!

    Keep up the good work 🙂


  2. James Beagle says:

    I was using the free version of Team Viewer for a while. Did not do what I needed. Remote Desktop software and Logmein Apps sound great! I will now be able to see customer files and balances due,on the road! Definitely be using them. Thanks Robert!

  3. Claude Corry says:

    Hey Rob on a totally different note CONGATULATIONS!! i SAW A report today that said Backup Creator got PLUGIN OF THE YEAR Wooooow you must be stoked ounce again good onya Mate

  4. John Deck says:

    I have used remote access software off and on over the last ten years. At times it has really save my hide. The downside is that it is dependent on a good wifi/3g connection. A couple of times I could not get a good enough connection to get the access I needed.


  5. Yep, I have been using the pro version of Logmein for several years now. I snapped up the $30 android version as soon as it was available.

    In addition to being fast, reliable, easy to use, and secure, the part I like best is that I can be working on something on my main home computer remotely right to the last minute before I need to shut down the device I’m using to access that computer with.

    I never have to worry about saving everything before disconnecting. I just close my remote browser and go!

    When I only have a few minutes to work on something, I don’t have to wait for the computer to boot, open all the windows or apps that I need and then start.

    I just connect and start where I left off.

    The remote audio is a killer feature. I have attended a number of your mid-day webinars using that feature while connected remotely.

    It is a HUGE time saver and overall one of the best productivity tools I know of.

  6. Bob Stovall says:

    I’ve been using LogMeIn for a few years and I find it indispensable in situations like the one you describe. When at a client’s location, I’ve often used it to retrieve a file or video when a conversation takes an unplanned turn to an unexpected subject.

  7. Jeanne says:

    I use Team Viewer. Used to use GoToMyPc, but Team Viewer was installed for me by my computer tech so that he can remotely take care of my PC. So, I just use that. I can also use it on my Droid phone and my tablet. Haven’t tested it on my Kindle Fire yet. The only thing I hate about remote access is that I have triple monitors at home, and sometimes when you open things, they open on another monitor, and when you only have one screen, (like on your tablet), you have to search to see where your stuff is…Ah…the problems of progress! Couldn’t possibly do business as much as I travel without the remote access.

  8. LitSuppGuru says:

    I LOVE Logmein. I have a 5 computer account and the iPhone/iPad apps. I was using Hamachi before Logmein acquired them. I use it every day. I love the drag and drop files functionality too.

  9. Hey,

    I’ve used Logmein. I found it clunky. Maybe because I have to edit a lot of video, which it isn’t really good at (or at least when I used it). However, since you brought it up, I might retry it. I might use it for article submission because I have software that is tied to a certain computer that I don’t always have access to all the time from my work space. Thanks for the notice!

  10. Mark says:

    I know is good since I used in my job, but with my online business I have not tried yet.
    Thanks again for the tip.

  11. Carl says:

    Robert and all,

    Well I completely understand and agree with using of remote PC software to access your files at another location. However, as an IT professional, I must suggest that you seriously consider which application that you are using to do so. Many of these easy, plug and play systems are grabbed by hackers and their vulnerabilities are learned and exploited. I personally chose teamviewer since it is free for personal use. After some research, I found that the LogMeIn system had vulnerabilities that I was uncomfortable with.

    Just a thought.

  12. Ron says:

    I’ve used TeamViewer also for fixing scattered family computer problems. I have never had the need (or even thought of) using it for something like this though. Great tip.

  13. Omid Manavi says:

    Hi Robert,

    the software is only for 14 Days free. The it´s cost annualy 929 € annualy.


  14. Robert Plank says:

    Hi Scott,

    I have found that the big weakness in most remote desktop software is with “dragging” — which unfortunately is a big part of video editing. So it’s not 100% perfect.

  15. Robert Plank says:


    Which software are you talking about?

  16. James says:

    I don’t use a remote desktop software, but I’ve always wanted to. Just never been able to figure out how to use it.

  17. Malcolm says:

    My wife and I use LogMeIn to connect from home (any time of day or night) to her office computers for data entry and system processing.

    It is remarkably convenient, saves travel back and forth to the office, and always accessible, and free. What human assistant will give you all that?

  18. Five or six years ago now, I discovered a free remote access cloud service that really worked. It was and I’ve never looked back.

  19. Wow! You think something’s old hat and then people surprise you with how new it is to them, don’t they?

  20. Wow, what an amazing software tool. I have not used a remote desktop as of yet. When I decide to I will know where to look.

    Thanks, Brandon

  21. Hi Robert Great tip. My wife is totally blind, so I use log me in to access my wife’s laptop and help her fix stuff that the screen reader won’t read. I have a hard time seeing her screen, so it is perfect. Also my computer repair client uses it to do remote computer support sessions so it is a great tool. There is a free version available, but it limits some of the things that you can do like downloading files and such. I use an IPAD now, so i dont know if it is available for it. Gotta check on that.

  22. Ray says:

    Never used it before but I’m definitely interested now. One questions, can you use remote desktop software to use programs on your computer as well?

  23. Robert Plank says:


    Yes, I have used it for all kinds of programs including editing a webinar recording and putting it online at an airport waiting for my plane.

  24. Robert…

    Great information.

    I’ve never actually used any remote desktop application. I’ve never really had the need… but now I’m less intimidated by it all. 🙂


    ~ Louie

  25. Robert,

    Thanks for showing how you use the Remote Desktop application. I use it at work all the time. But I never thought of using it for my online business ventures or for personal stuff. But now you’ve got me thinking of all kinds of ways to use it to access my home computer when I’m away from home. For example, I’ve been having to travel for work occasionally, and so I could access my home computer from the hotel using my work laptop. And the bonus of that is that my work laptop would have no footprint of that left on it.

    Thanks for pulling back the veil and showing us what tools you are using and how you use them.


  26. Hi Robert all I can say is thanks this is a new assistant for me and I am looking forward to making good use of an invaluable tool.

  27. I installed remote access to my IPad before I left the country on a trip.

    Was great until there was a power outage back home!

    I also use it so that I can access my main computer when I am on the road from my laptop – great time saver for me.

    Been using it for months now and it is a great.

  28. Matthew Shelton says:

    Well what you are talking about is part of the megatrend toward cloud computing, which has got Microsoft shaking in their boots. The more we can go in this direction, the better.

  29. Robert… good call on the LogMeIn software.
    I travel to and from my girlfriends home a fair bit and use LogMeIn quite regularly to get my work done from a distant location. I find the free version more than adequate for what I need in my IM biz. Heck I’ve even had to use it on my netbook via iPhone internet connection, while travelling on a ferry, to gain access to an important email with a webinar link in it I needed quickly.

    TeamViewer works great if you have another person on the other computer you are linking to but is useless if there is no other person at the remote computer.

    LogMeIn is secure, backed by a company that has been around for several years and widely used (as a paid product) by many corporations/businesses. Heck I even have Norton’s support log in to my computer using their licensed versions of LogMeIn Rescue to fix a broken Norton Internet Security.

    Great info and comments!

  30. Jay venka says:

    I presently use remote desktop in my office for VPN access, but this one is real big time saver and productivity booster, thanks

  31. Matt says:

    Robert, help tips in your posts–as always.

    I’ve been using this type of software for a long time as well.
    I can’t seem to figure out two things though for remote desktop:

    1) Is there a way to wake up the computer if it’s sleeping remotely? Do you use a certain brand software for this?

    2) Is there away to keep the desktop blacked out so people can’t see what you’re doing on your computer while your remotely accesing?

  32. Chris says:

    Ive never actually used any remote desktop software, and if I’m perfectly honest Its never really crossed my mind!
    You’ve got me thinking now, and I’m going to defo have a look into it. I can’t really see any negatives to it to be honest.

    Again another great post Robert!


  33. The Gryphon says:

    Thankyou Robert, for another great article.

    While some of your readers will rave about how wonderful remote access can be, I cringe at the thought of it all. Being remotely tied to my computer is in my mind worse than being chained to a desk in a cubicle.

    However, the software will make a great xmas gift for the truly devoted assistant 😀

  34. Bill says:


    Just wanted to know if my home computer would need to be on in order for me to access it from another computer? Probably a dumb question, but wasn’t sure.

    Also, if it does need to be turned on, does it need to be connected to the internet? Probably another dumb question.


  35. Robert Plank says:

    Hi Bill,

    Not a dumb question. Yes your computer needs to be on for it to work. But every since broadband internet and wifi was invented, I’ve had my computers on and connected 24 hours a day. No reason to wait a few minutes every morning for everything to power up, that’s what I used to do at my day job to waste time.

    Plus, Jeanne Lovely commented above about the power going on. If you know someone who can open up the BIOS menu (when the computer first starts — usually you hit either Esc, Del, F1, F2, or F12 when the computer first starts up) and browse to the “Power” tab, you can actually set an option where, even if the power goes out, your computer will start right back up as soon as power is restored. A little geeky tip there but worth it if you can get someone to set that option for you.

  36. Josef Lele says:

    I used PC Anywhere years ago too and have been using Teamviewer lately. I recently had a client in London load Teamviewer so I could access her computer to fix her Skype installation so I could provide support for her website marketing.

  37. Robert Plank says:

    I can’t believe how many people commenting here are using TeamViewer — I’ve never heard of it until now. I’m also really surprised (based on your responses) that no one uses the Windows built in Remote Desktop tool anymore. I remember for a few years (maybe 2006-2008) everyone used it. Now, nonexistent.

  38. Glenn says:

    Been using Logmein for several years from various spots around the world and totally love it!

  39. Yep, been using remote desktop software for quite a few years now, primarily working with clients. What’s on the horizon is having the desktop in the clouds completely so that it won’t matter where you are or what device you use to access your info (no real need for a home desktop computer)

    Personally, when I travel I don’t usually need to access my computer, just the files (since so much of the software is accessible from the web), so I like using another free service called SugarSync. With that service I can access and work on files from the cloud and don’t need to leave my computer turned on while I’m away.

    Just another of the growing options. 🙂

  40. Mel Johnson says:

    Yep, I love working remotely – great post and step-by-step!

  41. Hey My friend. good software logmein. I will bookmark your blog. thanks from brazil.

  42. Alberto says:

    No need to use remote desktop software.
    I’m always home 🙂

  43. Mike Crabill says:

    I have been using Teamviewer for a number of years. I am the family tech, so I use it to help maintain all of my relatives computers. Plus I have major medical problems, including a broken back, replaced hip and a slew of other problems. Which makes it difficult and painful to get around. I have a desktop with all my programs setup and access it from my recliner with my laptop. It also simplifies transferring files from one computer to another, even with large files. It makes life easier and less painful. My desktop is also connected to my TV and I use it for watching Netflix, Hulu, network shows and all kinds of other entertainment. Rather than getting up and going to my desktop to change shows or whatever, is a literal pain. With Teamviewer it is much simpler. My family calls frequently, among others for help and I can just remain comfortable, log into the computer and take care of the problem, while remaining as comfortable as I can be. I don’t know what I would do without it.

  44. Robert Plank says:

    Hi Mike, sounds like the “lazy man’s” dream! I love it. But I have to admit, sometimes I too have had to check something on the computer or get something started that wasn’t worth heading upstairs to the computer just to do it — so I remotely went in from the iPad instead.

  45. Josef Lele says:

    Hi Robert,

    Just like you I had never heard of Teamviewer. While I was talking on skype with the client in London (I’m in Sydney, Australia) she had a problemwith her audio and I knew she had no remote software on her PC. I just Googled “free PC remote software” and top rank was Teamviewer. I downloaded it to my PC, saw how simple it looked, skyped the client the link to download and had her skype me the passcode, opened her skype settings, made the change and we were back talking again within minutes. I now tell everyone about it.
    Just found Teamviewer as a free iPhone app in the App store. It’s free for personal use and Pro version is available for commercial use.

  46. Mike says:

    One of my biggest frustrations is that I travel A LOT and accessing everything I need seems easy but invariably I miss something – using Evernote, Google Docs, DropBox and other online storage – I’ve made it way too hard for myself.

    A remote access tool sounds great, especially if someone else is at the home office to make sure the power is on (nice tip RP).

    Just checked out TeamViewer and found it can run meetings for up to 25 people and other stuff as well – cool tool guys.

    TeamViewer was a breeze to install and login remotely. Logmein – still having trouble accessing remotely.

    Appreciate the heads-up though.

  47. I have been using Logmein for a few years, though with my DSL connection down for 8 weeks until a few days ago, I frustratingly wasn’t able to use it while travelling the UK and Ireland in May.

    A couple of days ago I came across a very interesting alternative, a gadget called iTwin, which is a two-part USB stick.

    You plug one part into your computer at home, take the other part with you and anywhere in the world you have an internet connection you plug it into whatever device you are using and you have remote access.

    Here in the UK it sells for around £80-90, but it seems to come from the USA, here is the manufacturer’s site (it will only show me the price in £ and not $):

    (Haven’t found an affiliate link for it yet… 🙂 )

    It works on PC and Mac.

    If anyone already knows and uses it, I’d be interested to hear your experiebce with it, it sounds a nifty little gadget.

  48. I’m one of those crazy people who carries their laptop everywhere. Don’t even have a business desktop anymore, but this software makes me think again. I really would like to shift to an iPad out and about so this may offer the solution . . . thanks for sharing what is working well for you, Robert!

    Theresa 😎

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