Here’s another remote-access option: Remote Desktop. When you use Remote Desktop, you’re not just tapping into your home computer’s network—you’re actually bringing its screen onto your screen. You can run its programs, print on its printers, “type” on its keyboard, move its cursor, manage its files, and so on, all by remote control.
Remote Desktop isn’t useful only when you’re trying to connect to the office or reach your home computer from the road; it works even over an office network. You can actually take control of another computer in the office—to troubleshoot a novice’s PC without having to run up or down a flight of stairs, perhaps, or just to run a program that isn’t on your own machine.
If you do decide to use Remote Desktop over the Internet, consider setting up a VPN connection first; using Remote Desktop over a VPN connection adds a nice layer of security to the connection. It also means that you become part of your home or office network—and you can therefore connect to the distant computer using its private network address or even its computer name.
The computers on the receiving end of the connections require the fanciest versions of Windows Vista, 7, or 8 (Pro, Enterprise, or Ultimate editions). But the laptop you’re using can be running any edition. In fact, it can be running any version of Windows all the way back to 95, and even Mac OS X or Linux.
To install the Remote Desktop Connection client on OS X or an older version of Windows, visit the ...