15 Best Free Remote Access Software Tools

Remotely access computers for free with these programs

The Wireless Connection
The Wireless Connection

Remote desktop software, more accurately called remote access software or remote control software, let you remotely control one computer from another. By remote control we truly mean remote control—you can take over the mouse and keyboard and use the computer you've connected to just like your own.

An illustration of someone remotely accessing their PC from a laptop on the beach.
Lifewire / Theresa Chiechi

Generally, remotely accessing a computer requires that a piece of software be installed on the computer you want to connect to, called the host. Another computer or device with the right credentials, called the client, connects to the host and controls it.

The better free remote access programs listed below require nothing more than a few clicks to get started—no special computer knowledge required.

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Remote Utilities

Command Prompt in Remote Utilities
What We Like
  • Includes lots of remote access tools

  • Great for both spontaneous and unattended remote access

  • Supports portable mode

  • Doesn't require router port changes

  • Free for both personal and business use

  • Lets you connect to up to 10 computers for free

What We Don't Like
  • It can get confusing setting up the program for first use

  • Linux and macOS versions are in beta.

Remote Utilities is a free remote access program with some really great features. It works by pairing two remote computers together with an Internet ID. Control a total of 10 computers with Remote Utilities.

Host Side

Install a portion of Remote Utilities called Host on a Windows computer to gain permanent access to it. Or o just run Agent, which provides spontaneous support without installing anything—it can even be launched from a flash drive.

The host computer obtains an Internet ID that a client uses to make a connection.

Client Side

The Viewer program connects to the host or agent software.

Download Viewer on its own or in the Viewer + Host combo file. Download a portable version of the Viewer if you'd rather not install anything.

Connecting the Viewer to the Host or Agent doesn't require any router changes like port forwarding, making setup very easy. The client just needs to enter the Internet ID number and password.

There are also client applications that can be downloaded for free for iOS and Android users.

Different modules can be used from the viewer so you can actually access a computer remotely without even viewing the screen, though screen-viewing is definitely Remote Utilities' main feature.

Here are some of the modules Remote Utilities allows: A remote task manager, file transfer, power control for remote rebooting or WOL, remote terminal (access to Command Prompt), remote file launcher, system information manager, text chat, remote registry access, and remote webcam viewing.

In addition to these features, Remote Utilities also supports remote printing and viewing multiple monitors.

Unfortunately, configuring Remote Utilities can be confusing on the host computer since there are lots of different options.

Remote Utilities can be installed on Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP, as well as Windows Server 2019, 2016, 2012, 2008, and 2003. There's also a version for Linux and macOS, but both are in beta and might not work as well as the Windows edition.

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Chrome Remote Desktop

Screenshot of a remote computer in Chrome Remote Desktop
What We Like
  • Lets you remote into the computer even when the user isn't logged in

  • Installs quickly

  • Has multi-monitor support

  • Includes a file transfer tool

  • Lets you remote into the computer via an app

  • Works on Windows, macOS, and Linux

What We Don't Like
  • Can't chat with the remote user

  • Remote printing isn't allowed

Chrome Remote Desktop is an extension for the Chrome browser that lets you set up a computer for remote access.

Host Side

The way this works is that you install the extension to either get a random code you can share with someone else for spontaneous support (get that code here), or a PIN that you can use to get on the computer at any time from your own Google account.

Client Side

To connect to the host browser, sign on to Chrome Remote Desktop through another web browser using the same Google credentials or using a temporary access code generated by the host computer.

Because you're logged in, you can easily see the other PC name, from where you can simply choose it and begin the remote session.

There isn't a chat function supported in Chrome Remote Desktop like you see with similar programs, but it's very easy to configure and lets you connect to your computer (or anyone's) from anywhere using just your web browser.

What's more is that you can remote into the computer when the user doesn't have Chrome open, or even when they're completely logged out of their user account.

Since it runs entirely within Chrome, it can work with any operating system that uses that browser, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebooks.

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Getscreen.me remote access session
What We Like
  • Great for one-off sessions; takes just a minute to get started.

  • Can be used for permanent access.

  • Control the computer from a web browser.

  • Lots of features.

What We Don't Like
  • Limits max linked computers to two.

  • Mobile app runs on Android only.

For a simple tool with some great features, you might consider the free remote access service Getscreen.me. If you need to quickly get into someone's computer without messing around with logins or installations, this is what you're after.

There's file sharing, a built-in chat window, buttons for common keyboard shortcuts (e.g., switch users, open Run box, open File Explorer), a system information viewer, full-screen mode, audio calling, and clipboard sharing.

Host Side

The computer that will be connected to needs to download and open the software. Installation is not required, but it can be fully installed if this computer will need to be accessed remotely permanently.

There are two ways to get the client connected. One is to log in to the client's user account with their email and password, a great option if they'll be getting into this computer a lot.

The other way to use Getscreen.me is to simply open the program and share the public link. With this anonymous session, whoever you give the link to will have access to your computer without needing a password. This is perfect for spontaneous technical support, but know that the connection time is limited when the program is used anonymously like this.

The host can dictate whether a few permissions are allowed, like if the client can control the mouse/keyboard, capture sound, and make audio calls.

Client Side

There are a couple of ways to access the remote computer. If you logged in to your account in the host program, then you have permanent access which means you can visit the link below to log in to the same account in a web browser to access the other computer.

Another way is if the host didn't log in to the account. The host can provide a URL that you can open from your device to automatically have access to the remote PC without needing your account information.

Free users are faced with a few limitations that can be lifted only if you pay: just two computers can be linked to your account at once and file transfers are limited to 50 MB per file.

It works on Windows, macOS, and Linux. You can control the computer from any device with a web browser or through the dedicated Android app.

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Windows Remote Desktop

Windows Remote Desktop Connection
What We Like
  • Provides the most natural and easy-to-use remote access experience

  • No download necessary

  • Supports file transfers

What We Don't Like
  • Works on Windows only

  • Not every version of Windows can be remoted into

  • No built-in chat capability

  • Requires port forwarding changes to be set up

Windows Remote Desktop is the remote access software built into the Windows operating system. No additional download is necessary to use the program.

Host Side

To enable connections to a computer with Windows Remote Desktop, you must open the System Properties settings (accessible via Settings (W11) or Control Panel) and allow remote connections via a particular Windows user.

You do have to set up your router for port forwarding so another PC can connection to it from outside the network, but this is usually not that big of a hassle to complete.

Client Side

The other computer that wishes to connect to the host machine must simply open the already installed Remote Desktop Connection software and enter the IP address of the host.

You can open Remote Desktop through the Run dialog box (open it with the Windows Key + R shortcut); just enter the mstsc command to launch it.

Most of the other software in this list have features that Windows Remote Desktop doesn't, but this method of remote access seems to be the most natural and easiest way to control the mouse and keyboard of a remote Windows PC.

Once you have everything configured, you can transfer files, print to a local printer, listen to audio from the remote PC, and transfer clipboard content.

Remote Desktop Availability

Windows Remote Desktop can be used on Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.

However, while all versions of Windows can connect to other computers that have incoming connections enabled, not all Windows versions can act as a host (i.e. accept incoming remote access requests).

If you're using a Home Premium version or below, your computer can only act as a client and therefore cannot be accessed remotely (but it can still access other computers remotely).

Incoming remote access is only allowed on Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate versions of Windows. In those editions, others can remote into the computer as described above.

Something else to remember is that Remote Desktop will kick a user off if they're logged in when someone connects to that user's account remotely. This is vastly different from every other program in this list—all the others can remote in to a user account while the user is still actively using the computer.

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UltraVNC remote access program
What We Like
  • Supports file transfers

  • Custom keyboard shortcuts can be set up

  • You can send chat messages to the remote computer

  • Lets you connect to a remote computer from a browser, computer program, and mobile app

What We Don't Like
  • You have to change your router settings to make the program work

  • Doesn't work well for on-demand, spontaneous remote access

  • Can't print remotely

  • Unable to turn the computer on remotely

  • Confusing download page

Another remote access program is UltraVNC. UltraVNC works a bit like Remote Utilities, where a server and viewer is installed on two PCs, and the viewer is used to control the server.

Host Side

When you install UltraVNC, you're asked if you wish to install the Server, Viewer, or both. Install the Server on the PC you wish to connect to.

You can install the UltraVNC Server as a system service so it's always running. This is the ideal option so you can always make a connection to it with the client software.

Client Side

To make a connection with the UltraVNC Server, you must install the Viewer portion during setup.

After configuring port forwarding in your router, you'll be able to access the UltraVNC server from anywhere with an internet connection—either via a mobile device that supports VNC connections, a PC with the Viewer installed, or an internet browser. All you need is the Server's IP address to make the connection.

UltraVNC supports file transfers, text chat, clipboard sharing, and can even boot and connect to the server in Safe Mode.

The download page is a little confusing—first select the most recent version of the software, and then choose the 32-bit or 64-bit setup file that will work with your edition of Windows.

Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7 users can install and use UltraVNC.

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Distant Desktop

Distant Desktop connected to a remote computer running Lifewire in the browser
What We Like
  • No install necessary.

  • Whitelist trusted computers.

  • Transfer files and send chats.

  • Free even for commercial use.

What We Don't Like
  • No mobile apps.

  • Runs on Windows only.

This is another completely portable remote access program. It's also 100% free for both personal and commercial use, which is rare to find.

Host Side

The computer that will be controlled by the client simply needs to share their ID and password with the other computer.

Client Side

For the computer that will be performing the remote access, press Connect and enter the host's ID and password. The tabs at the top of the program let you open multiple connections at once.

Once you're connected to the other computer, you can send files to and from them and communicate over text or using your voice. Passwords are generated automatically, but you can also choose your own to make it easier to remember.

The program is compatible with Windows 11, 10, 8, Vista, and 7, as well as Windows Server 2008, 2003, and 2000.

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AnyDesk in Windows 10
What We Like
  • Has you create an easy-to-remember alias for remote connections

  • Supports both audio and file transfer

  • Lets you record the remote session

  • Connections can be configured to favor quality or speed

  • Updates to new software versions automatically

  • Works on Linux, Windows, and macOS

  • There's a mobile app available

What We Don't Like
  • Could be confusing to understand at first

  • Might limit connection time or address book entries because there are also paid versions of the program

AnyDesk is a remote desktop program that you can run portably or install like a regular program.

Host Side

Launch AnyDesk on the PC you want to connect to and record the 9-digit number, or custom alias if one is set up.

When the client connects, the host will be asked to allow or disallow the connection and can also control permissions, like to allow sound, clipboard use, and the ability to block the host's keyboard/mouse control.

Client Side

On another computer, run AnyDesk and then enter the host's Remote Desk ID or alias in the Remote Desk section of the program. Press Connect, and wait for the host to press Accept.

If unattended access is set up, the client doesn't need to wait for the host to accept the connection. 

AnyDesk auto-updates and can enter full-screen mode, create a balance between quality and speed of the connection, transfer files and sound, sync the clipboard, record the remote session, run keyboard shortcuts, take screenshots of the remote computer, and restart the host computer.

It runs on macOS, Linux, and Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.

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AeroAdmin v4.0 in Windows 8
What We Like
  • Can be installed as a portable application

  • Free for commercial and private use

  • Works right away; no router changes are necessary

  • Can remotely log off and reboot the computer

  • Encrypted connections

  • Ideal for spontaneous and unattended access

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't support chat

  • Connection times are limited in the free edition

  • Can't print remotely

  • No file transfer support in free version

AeroAdmin is probably the easiest program to use for free remote access. There are hardly any settings, and everything is quick and to the point, which is perfect for spontaneous support.

Host Side

Just open the portable program and share your IP address or the given ID with someone else. This is how the client computer will know how to connect to the host.

Client Side

The client PC just needs to run the same AeroAdmin program and enter the ID or IP address into their program. You can choose View only or Remote Control before you connect, and then just select Connect to request remote control.

When the host computer confirms the connection, you can start controlling the computer and share clipboard text.

It's great that AeroAdmin is absolutely free for both personal and commercial use, but it's too bad there isn't a chat option included, and really too bad that you can't transfer files.

Another note that needs to be made is that while AeroAdmin is 100% free, it does limit how many hours you can use it per month.

AeroAdmin can be installed on 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, and XP.

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Iperius Remote

Screenshot of Iperius Remote in Windows 10
What We Like
  • Very easy to use; no installation necessary.

  • No user account required.

  • Includes a chat window.

  • Supports file transfers.

What We Don't Like
  • Some features are clickable but then you're told they're not usable in the free version.

  • Might limit connection time.

Iperius Remote is one of the easiest to use remote desktop programs with some awesome features like a robust file transfer tool and chat application. It also lets you connect to a computer remotely with their mobile app.

Host Side

Open the program and select Allow connections to see your password. Share that and the ID next to it with the client so that they can connect to the computer.

Client Side

Enter the host computer's ID into the second text box, press Connect, and then enter the password when you see the password prompt.

This free remote access program is perfect for on-demand access. You and the other person can download and start using Iperius Remote in just a minute or two.

The program interface is extremely simple and easy to understand. During a remote connection, you can send the Ctrl+Alt+Del shortcut, choose which display to view, switch to full screen mode, and open the file transfer or chat utility.

If you want more control you can open the settings to enable continuous access, a custom password, a proxy, etc.

Supported operating systems include 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP, as well as Windows Server 2016, 2012, 2008, and 2003.

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Zoho Assist

Zoho Assist free remote access program
What We Like
  • Free for commercial and personal use

  • Works on Windows, Mac, and Linux

  • Easy setup

  • The client needs no software

What We Don't Like
  • Limited compared to the paid versions

Zoho Assist is yet another remote access tool that has a free edition for both personal and commercial use. You can share screens and files, and chat remotely with the other user through a unique session ID and password.

Host Side

The host needs to select Share My Screen on the Zoho Assist website, and then START NOW to get a session ID and password to give to the client. You can copy the ID and password manually, share a unique URL with the client, or just enter their email address to have the connection info emailed to them.

The host also needs to download a small tool so that the client can remotely access in order to control the computer. Use the Download button to save ZA_Connect.exe to your computer, and then open it to install it.

Client Side

Once the host computer is fully set up and ready to go, the client needs to access the Join Screen Sharing Session page and enter the ID and password of the client computer.

Or, if the host shared the information over email or the URL, then, of course, the client can just use that information to connect to the host.

By default, the client doesn't have full control rights, only viewing permissions. To change this, the client needs to go to Session > Request Control, and wait for the host to click Yes.

Some other features included in this program are clipboard sharing, a pause button for the host, and an annotation tool so that the host and client can draw on the screen.

The Zoho Assist free plan supports only five unattended computers and one concurrent session. For more features, you can order the Standard, Professional, or Enterprise edition.

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Quick Assist

Quick Assist remote access tool in Windows 10
What We Like
  • Built-in to Windows 11/10.

  • Easy signup with your Microsoft account.

  • Perfect for on-demand, quick access.

What We Don't Like
  • Requires at least Windows 10.

  • No built-in chat function.

  • Can't share files.

  • Requires the host's permission for each connection.

The free Quick Assist remote access program is easy to understand and doesn't require a download because it's built-in to Windows 11 and 10. Search for it through the Start menu, or browse the Windows Accessories Start menu folder, to open the program.

Host Side

Type into the text box the 6-digit code that the client's computer generated, and then select Share screen. Once the client has done their part, you need to confirm that they can have access to your computer before the connection can be established.

Client Side

Choose Assist another person and then log in to your Microsoft account. Give the security code to the host and then choose Take full control or View screen to get remote access to their computer.

Once the client has connected to the host, they can change which monitor to control, annotate directly on the screen, restart the computer, and quickly open Task Manager.

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Screenshot of LiteManager version 5 in Windows 10
What We Like
  • Stores remote access information for up to 30 computers

  • Several ways to connect to a remote computer

  • You can open files remote without controlling the screen

  • Lets you transfer files without any notifications or alerts

  • Supports text chat

  • Includes lots of useful tools

  • Supports spontaneous and portable remote access

  • Runs on Windows and macOS

What We Don't Like
  • The program doesn't update very often

  • The multitude of options could be overwhelming and confusing if you just want a simple remote access tool

LiteManager is another remote access program, and it's strikingly similar to Remote Utilities, which we explain above.

However, unlike Remote Utilities, which can control a total of only 10 PCs, LiteManager supports up to 30 slots for storing and connecting to remote computers, and also has lots of useful features.

Host Side

The computer that needs to be accessed should install the LiteManager Pro – Server.msi program (it's free), which is contained in the downloaded ZIP file.

There are numerous ways to ensure a connection can be made to the host computer. It can be done through the IP address, computer name, or an ID. 

The easiest way to set this up is to right-click the server program in the notification area of the taskbar, choose Connect by ID, erase the contents that are already there, and click Connected to generate a brand new ID.

Client Side

The other program, called Viewer, is installed for the client to connect to the host. Once the host computer has produced an ID, the client should enter it from the Connect by ID option in the Connection menu to establish a remote connection to the other computer.

Once connected, the client can do all sorts of things, much like with Remote Utilities, such as work with multiple monitors, transfer files silently, take full control or read-only access of the other PC, run a remote task manager, launch files and programs remotely, capture sound, edit the registry, create a demonstration, lock the other person's screen and keyboard, and text chat.

There's also a QuickSupport option, which is a portable server and viewer program that makes connecting much quicker than the above method.

We tested LiteManager in Windows 10, but it should also work just fine in Windows 11, 8, 7, Vista, and XP. This program is available for macOS and Linux, too.

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ShowMyPC start screen
What We Like
  • Simple, to-the-point design

  • Lets others connect to your computer through a special URL

  • The program is portable and perfect for spontaneous remote access

What We Don't Like
  • Keyboard shortcuts are limited

  • Shows premium options that you can't use in the free edition

  • Always displays a banner ad

ShowMyPC is a portable and free remote access program that's similar to some of these other programs but uses a password to make a connection instead of an IP address.

Host Side

Run the ShowMyPC software on any computer and then choose Show My PC to get a unique ID number called a Share Password.

This ID is the number you must share with others so they can connect to the host.

Client Side

Open the same ShowMyPC program on another computer and enter the ID from the host program to make a connection. The client can instead enter the number on the ShowMyPC website (in the "View PC" box) and run a Java version of the program within their browser.

There are additional options here that aren't available in UltraVNC, like webcam sharing over a web browser and scheduled meetings that allow someone to connect to your PC via a personal web link that launches a Java version of ShowMyPC.

ShowMyPC clients can only send a limited number of keyboard shortcuts to the host computer.

Choose ShowMyPC Free on the download page to get the free version. It works on all versions of Windows.

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DesktopNow website
What We Like
  • You can access remote computers from any web browser

  • Lets you avoid setting up router port forwards, but that is an option

  • Includes a remote file browser for file transfers

What We Don't Like
  • Hasn't been updated in a long time

  • Unattended access is hard to achieve

DesktopNow is a free remote access program from NCH Software. After optionally forwarding the proper port number in your router, and signing up for a free account, you can access your PC from anywhere through a web browser.

Host Side

The computer that will be accessed remotely needs to have the DesktopNow software installed.

When the program is first launched, your email and a password should be entered so you can use the same credentials on the client side to make the connection.

The host computer can either configure its router to forward the proper port number to itself or choose cloud access during the install to make a direct connection to the client, bypassing the need for complicated forwarding.

It's probably a better idea for most people to use the direct, cloud access method to avoid issues with port forwarding.

Client Side

The client just needs to access the host through a web browser. If the router was configured to forward the port number, the client would use the host PCs IP address to connect. If cloud access was chosen, a specific link would have been given to the host that you'd use for the connection.

DesktopNow has a nice file sharing feature that lets you download your shared files remotely in an easy-to-use file browser.

There isn't a dedicated application to connect to DesktopNow from a mobile device, so trying to view and control a computer from a phone or tablet can be difficult. However, the website is optimized for mobile phones, so viewing your shared files is easy.

64-bit versions of Windows are supported. This includes Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.

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BeamYourScreen remote access program
What We Like
  • Multiple people can view the same screen simultaneously

  • Viewers can remote in to the computer from a web browser

  • Works through a special ID (no router changes have to be made)

  • Files can be shared between computers

  • Supports text chat

  • Can be used portably or as a regular program

What We Don't Like
  • It can be confusing knowing which of the several download options to choose

  • Outdated software

Another free and portable remote access program is BeamYourScreen. This program works like some of the others in this list, where the presenter is given an ID number they must share with another user so they can connect to the presenter's screen.

Host Side

BeamYourScreen hosts are called organizers, so the program called BeamYourScreen for Organizers (Portable) is the preferred method the host computer should use for accepting remote connections. It's quick and easy to start sharing your screen without having to install anything.

There's also a version that can be installed called BeamYourScreen for Organizers (Installation).

Just click the Start Session button to open up your computer for connections. You'll be given a session number you must share with someone before they can connect to the host.

Client Side

Clients can also install the portable or installable version of BeamYourScreen, but there's a dedicated program called BeamYourScreen for Participants that's a small executable file that can be launched similar to the portable one for organizers.

Enter the host's session number in the Session ID section of the program to join the session.

Once connected, you can control the screen, share clipboard text and files, and chat with text.

Something rather unique about BeamYourScreen is that you can share your ID with multiple people so that many participants can join in and look at the presenter's screen. There's even the BeamYourScreen online viewer so clients can view the other screen without having to run any software.

It works with all versions of Windows, plus Windows Server 2008 and 2003, Mac, and Linux.

Aren't There Other Free Remote Access Programs?

You do have other options, like TeamViewer, which is wildly popular. Unfortunately, however, many users have had issues with it thinking that they're using it in a business setting, forcing them to pay to continue using the tool.

LogMeIn's free product, LogMeIn Free, is no longer available. This was one of the more popular free remote access services ever available, so it's really too bad it went away.

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