How to Remotely Access a PC From Your iPhone or Android Device

With the Remote Desktop app for iOS, iPadOS, and Android, you can connect to and control a remote Windows computer to work with your files and applications.

Since 2020, more people have been working from home. As a result, there’s been a greater need to access computers remotely. And one tool for the job is Microsoft’s Remote Desktop program, which can help you connect your home computer to one in the office. But if you’re on the go without a laptop, you can also access a remote PC from an Apple or Android device. 

After making the connection, you’re able to view the screen, open files, and work with applications on your mobile device almost as easily (though maybe not as quickly) as if you were right in front of that computer. The major requirement is that the computer you want to access must be running Windows 10 or 11 Pro or Enterprise edition. Remote access is not supported in Windows 10 or 11 Home. Now, here’s how to use the Remote Desktop mobile app to access a remote computer.


Set Up Remote Access in Windows 10

To connect to a computer remotely, you first have to set the proper access. The basic setup is similar between Windows 10 and 11, though some of the screens and options look different. In Windows 10, go to Settings > System > Remote Desktop on the computer you wish to access and turn on the switch for Enable Remote Desktop.

By default, the options for Keep your PC awake for connections when it is plugged in and Make my PC discoverable on private networks to enable automatic connection from a remote device may both be enabled. To view or modify either option, click the corresponding Show settings link, but you can leave both turned on at this point.

Enable Remote Desktop

Click the Advanced settings link and make sure the box for Require devices to use Network Level Authentication to connect is checked. This feature provides an extra layer of protection to ward off uninvited guests and malicious users.

Assuming you’ll be connecting to a computer at work via a VPN or other secure gateway, ignore the section for External connections. The section for Remote Desktop port shows the default port to listen for and accept a remote connection. 

Configure Advanced settings

Return to the previous screen. Note the name of the PC as you’ll need it when you set up the connection from your mobile device.

By default, any user who has an administrative account on the remote PC can access it. Assuming you’re using a Microsoft Account or company account to sign into Windows, your best bet is to use that account to sign in remotely. To give remote access to a different account, click the link for Select users that can remotely access this PC at the bottom. Click Add and enter the username for the account you want to use.

Add a different accouint

Set Up Remote Access in Windows 11

In Windows 11, go to go to Settings > System > Remote Desktop and turn on Remote Desktop.

Turn on the switch for Remote Desktop

Click the down arrow next to the switch for Remote Desktop. Check the box for Require devices to use Network Level Authentication to connect.

Configure Network Level Authentication

If you want to give remote access to a different account than your Microsoft Account or company account, click the link for Remote Desktop users. Click Add and enter the username for the account you want to use.

Add a different account

Set Up Remote Access From iPhone or iPad

Now, you can turn to your mobile device. To access the computer from your iPhone or iPad, download and install the Remote Desktop app(Opens in a new window) from Apple’s App Store. Open the app, tap the plus (+) button in the top-right corner, and choose the option for Add PC.

Add a PC

At the Add PC window, enter the computer name or IP address in the PC Name field. Type the account name you want to use in the User Account field, or leave the field set to Ask When Required if you’d rather enter the name each time for security reasons.

Type a name in the Friendly Name field to add a more convenient label for this connection. Turning on the switch for Admin Mode connects you to a console session to manage a Windows server; normally you would leave this turned off. The option for Swap Mouse Buttons swaps the left and right mouse buttons.

Configure connection

In the Gateway section, you would need to enable and set up the option for Gateway only if your organization uses a Remote Desktop Gateway to secure remote connections.

Swipe down to the Device & Audio Redirection section to enable any features on your device that you wish to use during a remote connection. You’d likely want to direct the sound to play on this device. You may also want to enable the clipboard if you plan to copy and paste back and forth. You can enable the microphone, camera, and remote storage as well. When finished, tap Save in the upper-right corner.

An icon for the computer you want to access will appear in the app. Tap that icon to make the connection. The first time you try to access the computer, Remote Desktop may ask to verify the connection to that computer. Enable Don’t ask me again for connections to this computer and then tap Accept.

Make the connection

You should then be connected to the remote computer. You can now open apps and windows, manage the desktop, and do just about everything you can do if you were sitting in front of the computer. To help you control your remote session, the app displays a small toolbar at the top that lets you zoom in and out on the screen, display your device’s keyboard, or jump to another remote connection.

You're now connected

Tap the middle icon to view all your remote connections. Select a remote connection to jump to another session. This screen has its own toolbar at the top. Tap the Home icon to return to the home screen, where you can set up or access another connection. Tap the Hand icon to switch to touch-screen mode and tap the Mouse icon to switch to mouse mode.

Tap the X button in the thumbnail of a remote connection to sever the connection for that session. Otherwise, tap Disconnect All PCs to end every current session.

Control connection

Set Up Remote Access From an Android Device

Remote Desktop for Android works similarly to its iOS/iPadOS counterpart. Download and install the app from Google Play(Opens in a new window). After you launch the app, tap the plus (+) icon and choose Add PC.

Add a PC

If you’re near the remote computer, the app will scan for it at this point. If the PC is detected, its name will show up on the screen. Otherwise, tap Add Manually. In that case, type the computer name or IP address.

Choose PC

For User Account, tap the field that says Ask when required and then either leave that option as is or tap the option for Add user account and enter the username. Add a friendly name if desired.

Choose account

Leave the options for Admin mode and Swap mouse buttons turned off unless you need them. You can add the gateway if your organization uses a Remote Desktop Gateway. Opt to play sound from the remote PC on your device. Unless you need to adjust the options for display resolution, mouse buttons, admin session, and local storage, you can leave those turned off. When done, click Connect.

Connect

Type the password for your account if prompted. If a message appears telling you that the certificate can’t be verified, tap Connect.

Add the password

You should then be connected to the remote PC.

You're now connected

Use the toolbar at the top of the screen to zoom in and out, display the onscreen keyboard, or view other remote sessions. Tap the Home button to return to the app’s home screen. Hit the Mouse Pointer icon to display a mouse pointer. Tap the X in the thumbnail window of your computer to disconnect the current remote session.

Control connection