I want to be able to help my folks with their computer problems but they are over 1000+ miles from where I live.

Is there a good cross-platform (Windows 8.1 and Mac Mavericks) free to use software tool that we can use for me to take control of their computers?

It needs to

  • Let me control remotely their computer.
  • Let them see what I am doing so I can teach them while I am controlling their computers.
  • Let me help either a Windows or Mac based machine from my Windows machine.
  • Be semi-easy to install and set it up on their end.

3 Answers 3


There are many options. VNC, TeamViewer, Logmein, JoinMe are just a few

I personally use VNC as it is available on so many platforms and OS's. It allows you to access your folks computer remotely as if you were sat there. Although you will have to set it up on their machine first (install a VNC server) and when you want to connect you'll need to get their IP address from them, AND ensure a connection through any firewall is possible.

If you use TeamViewer or LogMeIn, these have an application which will tell you which of your remote machines are online and you can double click to start a session. This can be easier if your folks struggle to give you the IP address...

Infact, all the methods I can think of will need some sort of install performed on their computer, with the exception of Windows Remote Desktop Connection which may be installed already (there is a client for Mac for it)

  • Thanks. I'll look in to each of these.
    – TWhite
    Commented Jul 31, 2014 at 20:55

Google chrome.

No, really....

I've used chrome remote desktop fairly successfully in the past, and if I was going to routinely do unpaid remote desktop support that's what I'd favour

  • works anywhere chrome does
  • secure (uses a pin)
  • You can invite people to help
  • integrated with google hangouts
  • very easy install with no configuration (users can create a sharing session at your end, send you a 12 digit number and you can get started)
  • works on any desktop environment chrome does
  • Has an android client
  • Pretty decent performance, even over mobile internet

The recomendations made by @cris (accepted Answer) are great.

Especially Teamviewer is great for use in non-commercial mode. If you use it for commercial tech support it can feel a bit pricey (this depends on where you live).

We´ve used Logmein and it's also great but as far as I can tell you do need to use a paid subcription.

  • I would also suggest SupRemo although it's a tad slower than Teamviewer. It does not need much configuration and doesn´t need installation. When they close the windows the connection is removed. The interface is very similar to team Viewer.
  • Some also use anyDesk. I haven't used it so I cannot fully recommend it, but it seems to have a good rep.

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