Remote access is one of the most valuable tools in a computer user’s kit. With it, you can reach your own machines from anywhere, help a friend, or even remotely control USB devices.
One of the most popular remote control programs is TeamViewer, which has continually added features and become the standard for its kind. With version 12 releasing this month, we thought it would be a good time to have a look at what TeamViewer can do for you. Let’s review the most popular features of the software, along with what’s new in version 12.
Install and Meet TeamViewer
Getting TeamViewer (TV) installed on your PC is simple. Head to the TeamViewer website and click the Download TeamViewer button to grab the installer. During setup, choose the Basic installation and make sure you indicate that you’re using TV for Personal / Non-commercial use. The software is free for home users, while business folks pay a fee for more advanced features.
You don’t have to dive into any menus to enjoy the basic functionality of TeamViewer. Every time you open it, TV assigns you a nine-digit ID, along with a four-digit password. To connect to someone else’s machine, all you need to do is ask them for these two codes. Punch them into your Partner ID box and make sure to check Remote control, and you’ll be connected to them in seconds.
If you’re using TeamViewer as a short-term solution to help someone, they don’t even have to install the full software. Scroll down a bit on the homepage and click the Join remote control session button to download a temporary version of TV that only stays running until you close it. This is a great way to get the service running for someone who isn’t tech-savvy.
Once You’re Connected
Once you’ve connected to a remote machine successfully, you’ll control this computer as if it was your own. Unlike some other remote assistance software, TeamViewer lets you respond to user account control (UAC) prompts to allow administrative actions. This is why you should exercise caution about who you let connect to your computer, as fake tech support scammers use this software to rip you off.
You’re not just limited to using the controls on the remote machine, however. TeamViewer includes an action bar at the top of its window with several useful commands. Under the Actions tab, you can send commands to reboot the computer, press Ctrl + Alt + Del, or black out the remote screen.
Under the View tab, you can choose to show the remote user’s cursor, change the connection’s balance between speed and quality, and adjust the resolution.
The Communicate tab lets you start a call with the remote user if you haven’t already done so using Hangouts or some other tool. You can also open a text chat to get feedback from your user, and even switch sides if you need them to control your machine for a bit.
Finally, under Files & Extras you’ll find tools for taking screenshots and recording the session, as well as transferring files. If you’re remotely connecting to show a friend how to perform some process, recording the session is a great way to give them a reference so you don’t have to review it with them several times.
Whether you’re connecting to someone’s computer for five minutes or working on a remote machine for hours, these tools go a long way in giving you all the control you need over the remote machine.
More Useful Features
For advanced users, TeamViewer can go beyond just remote access. More features are available to you if you sign up for a free TeamViewer account. This lets you add computers to your contacts for easy access. If you support several people, this lets you easily see if they’re online and connect quickly.
Unattended Access lets you access a computer even if someone isn’t present at the machine. Once you’ve signed into your TV account, the program will walk you through the steps. These include setting TV to run at startup and assigning the machine as your own. If you have friends who struggle to use computers, setting up unattended access ensures that they don’t even have to give you a code to connect.
To see all of your computers, visit the Management Console from the web, where you can connect to any computer that’s online. If you want to get really crazy, you can even use Wake On LAN to have your PC turn on when you need it.
TeamViewer also offers mobile apps. Whether you use Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, or even BlackBerry, you can use TeamViewer to connect to a PC in a pinch. Navigating a desktop using your phone isn’t ideal, but it could prove useful someday. There are also apps for connecting to support mobile devices, but TeamViewer only allows this for premium subscribers.
Finally, TeamViewer also has a Meetings feature, completely separate from remote access. You can run a screen-sharing presentation, video call, or audio only. Like the other aspects of TV, starting a meeting is as simple as clicking a button and sharing the meeting code with your friends.
There are plenty of other meeting tools out there, and for video or phone calls your friends will probably want to use FaceTime or Google Hangouts. Thus the Meetings feature isn’t as useful as remote access, but is still a nice option if you have to hold a formal business meeting over the web.
New in TeamViewer 12
TeamViewer 12, currently in beta, doesn’t make any major changes to the interface, but has added lots of new features. If you’re running an older version of TeamViewer, click Help > Check for new version to update to version 12.
TeamViewer 12 performs better overall thanks to its faster connections and automatic quality selection. Amazingly for a remote session, it supports up to 60 frames per second video. This means that you won’t have to deal with jumpy connections and can work on the remote machine as if it was your own.
Chances are, when you’re working remotely, you’ll need to transfer some files. TeamViewer 12 is ready for this. The new version transfers files at up to 200 MB/s — perfect for grabbing large files off a remote machine. It also integrates with OneDrive. This allows you to quickly share and collaborate on files right through the TeamViewer interface.
Though it’s designed for business users, the ability to leave sticky notes on the user’s screen in TV 12 is useful for home, as well. If you’re working on someone’s computer remotely and want to remind them of something important, or just let them know that you’ve finished, you can leave them a note.
There are several other new features, such as device reports, but many of them are only available for enterprise users. Since home users wouldn’t make much use of them anyway, it’s no great loss.
Will You Get Connected?
If you’ve never enjoyed remote access before, TeamViewer is a perfect way to get started. It’s easier than troubleshooting issues over the phone with a family member, and having access to your computer from anywhere is awesome. TeamViewer makes it easy, and the new version is the best yet. Give it a try!
A word of caution: TeamViewer suffered a big hacking attack earlier this year. They have made the necessary security changes, but know that it was a recent problem.
No matter how you use remote access, check our tips on making sure you’ve secured it properly and are working efficiently!
How do you use TeamViewer? Share your creative uses for the tool down in the comments!