Is there a good remote desktop software tool that I can use to control my Windows and Linux PCs from my Mac, and vice-versa?

I don't care if it uses up lots of internet bandwidth.

Desired features:

  • Easy to set up
  • Secure
  • Gratis
  • Ad free
  • Able to work with different IPs
  • Windows, Mac and Linux compatible
  • 1
    A little bit more about your needs please? What sort of connections will this run over? How often/long will you need to stay connected? What sort of software do you need to use long distance? Is file sharing between ends something then needs to be built in? Does "different IP's" mean dynamic remote IP or multiple ip's behind a router?
    – Caleb
    Feb 18, 2014 at 10:04
  • Are you asking about remote desktop software, or does "control my PC from my MAC while I am away" involve additional requirements?
    – hardmath
    Feb 18, 2014 at 10:16
  • You don't even need a component on the Windows® side: it comes with an RDP (Remote Desktop) server built-in, which you just need to enable. (I'm not writing this as an answer because you'll have to dig the details for your specific version yourself, and I don't use it myself, except at the dayjob rarely). Then you need some sort of RDP client; I'd be surprised if OSX didn't come with one, but there are lots of Open Source RDP clients (rdesktop, krdc) around.
    – mirabilos
    Feb 18, 2014 at 13:33
  • 1
    @hardmath no. A remote desktop software would fit the topic perfectly I just did not think of it when I was writing the question.
    – Dinopet123
    Feb 20, 2014 at 10:05

7 Answers 7


Team viewer is a great remote desktop tool that works on mac windows and linux, it is also free for non-commercial use it is also very easy to set up just install it on both PCs and enter id and password of the PC you want to connect to. it also has a feature to connect to your pc that you are not near. you can also connect to a different platform then what you are running (EG mac to linux)

I have found it to be very easy to setup and use and quite reliable. you can also set it to open on boot so it is always ready.

It meets the requirements:

  • It is very easy to set up (login optional)
  • it is free
  • It is very secure
  • It is add free
  • works with IPs outside of you local network

one thing though it is not open source.

You can download it free here

  • 4
    it appears as the second google search result if you search for the question it self "control other computers from another computer". people need to do some work before asking questions here. Feb 18, 2014 at 5:42
  • 5
    @Joraid People should put more effort in answers. Especially adding personal experience. From just googling you can find a lot of crap, we are here looking especially for recommendation, not for Google results.
    – Bernhard
    Feb 18, 2014 at 8:12
  • 2
    This does not meet the requirements of the question.
    – Caleb
    Feb 18, 2014 at 10:03
  • 3
    @Dinopet123 Team Viewer is not OpenSource. So how can it be the answer? Feb 18, 2014 at 10:07
  • 2
    @IrgendwPointer to have an answer just means that it works for me. I can change the requirements at any time. Plus, it works so well that I don't care if it is not open source.
    – Dinopet123
    Feb 19, 2014 at 2:08

Most Microsoft Windows operating systems since Windows XP have included Remote Desktop functionality utilising the Remote Desktop Protocol. Depending on the version you have depends on how it is configured, but in general you will need to do the following in order to be able to connect to a computer running Windows in this way:

Enable remote desktop in System Properties

In System Properties, select "Allow remote connections to this computer"

enter image description here

Enable remote desktop connections through your PC's firewall

If you have a firewall running on your computer, you will need to allow incoming connections on port 3389 (TCP and UDP) through it and/or enable "Remote Desktop" in Windows Firewall:

enter image description here

Open ports on your router to allow the connection to be routed correctly

Most home networks consist of a single external IP shared between multiple PCs and devices with network address translation being done by your router. In these instances, your router will need to be told to forward incoming connection attempts to port 3389 (TCP and UDP) to the IP address of your PC inside of the network.

If you've got multiple IP addresses and/or your router runs in bridged mode, you probably won't need to do this.

Use a Remote Desktop client to connect to your PC

From here, all you need to do is connect to your home IP address with a remote desktop client, which are available as standard on all Windows computers and have clients available for most other operating systems (OS X, Linux) and tablets.

If you have a dynamic IP address you might want to set up something like No-IP on your PC so that your dynamic IP address is communicated to a third party that will provide you with a host name that doesn't change to connect to, saving you from remembering your IP address.


I've had good luck with chrome remote desktop

  • Easy to set up - Install chrome, install the extension, let it install the CRD service Log in.
  • Secure - systems are protected by your chrome account login and a pin
  • Gratis - Yes
  • Ad free Yes
  • Able to work with different IPs Google handles the heavy lifting, so you don't even need to know your IP address
  • PC, Mac and Linux compatible - Yes, as well as Chromeos. There's rumours of Android and IOS support coming soon.
  • Fast (Least in my experiments using my phone internet connection and a laptop to desktop connection)

Another great cross platform tool for remote access is nomachine - I seem to recall it uses UPNP to open up ports (though you can do this manually) and you connect by IP addess or hostname, but otherwise, the latest version of nomachine is dead simple. You install the client/service package on each system, and simply connect to it

  • Easy to set up - single installer, and most configuration is automatic.
  • Secure - Uses a SSH tunnel by default
  • Gratis for personal use
  • Ad free
  • Able to work with different IPs
  • PC, Mac and Linux compatible - Android is in beta, Ios is in alpha
  • Extra credit - Lets you share devices across the network, somewhat like RDP

This is an OLD tool however, to my knowledge, it will cross platforms and allow administration. When I needed interactive tech collaboration, this is what we used in the 90's and it worked error free from Norway, to me in USA and it also worked to allow a friend to configure my USA California computer from UK Essex to turn on webcam/mic, open the logon across networks;

(i.e: Xmachine->L/P->Ymachine: use current users account, open apps, Yahoo, cam, etc logon to yahooIM, etc).

It works great BUT from what I recall it was SLOW.

So there is the Pro & Con, bottom line it's great as you can interact as if your the real user sitting in front of the remote computer. The program is called RTVNC.

I tried looking for the authentic copyrighted app online w/o success. I have it somewhere in a book of backup DLDVDs. If you want to contact me via social networking, you can find me here.

While I might suggest for you to look into a tool called RealVNC because and it seems to appear similar however, I cannot recommend it based on my lack of experience with RealVNC.

Note; OPENVNC, is a developers platform for remote control administration GUI & Protocol.


You can use FreeRDP, a free implementation of the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). It includes client and server and it works on Linux, macOS and Windows.


Like the currently selected answer of TeamViewer, another software from Germany named AnyDesk provides a comparable set of features with a free for personal use license.

To conform with OP's checklist:

Topic Compliance
Easy to set up Yes
Secure Yes*
Gratis Personal Use
Ad free Mostly**
Able to work with different IPs Yes
Windows, Mac and Linux compatible Yes, including mobile OSs
  • * - As long as you don't share the password and id, scammers have been known to send inexperienced folk to use AnyDesk (as well as TeamViewer) to allow access to their computer.
  • ** - During first install they promote their own paid license, as well as Google Chrome. Once dismissed these don't show up again.

There is another option, which diverges from OP's request of 'Easy to set up' but is something that I personally feel should be more widespread.

There is an open source project offered by an Intel engineer which allows you to setup a centralized server to coordinate remote monitoring and connection across the web to multiple platforms.

The system is called MeshCentral, and after it is installed, setup on end points is as easy as installing TeamViewer or AnyDesk (maybe even easier).

You can have Multi-Factor authentication setup, included with some other great features.

This way you get a very secure self-hosted system, where no 3rd Party is involved in providing you remote access, while you are not exposing RDP or SSH ports from your work/home systems directly to The Internet.

Before I discovered this one, I used AnyDesk for the longest time, this one allows me to host my own system, for free.

While this all probably seems very daunting, the server setup can be truly simplified using docker-compose. I personally currently use the typhonragewind/meshcentral docker-hub based image.

Hope OP, or others will find this useful.

GitHub links:

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.