How to remote control your PC from outside your home network

Note: Although Our tutorial uses RDP protocol to control Windows PC, the same idea also applies to remote control Mac or Linux with VNC protocol.

Allow Remote Connections on Windows

To access one computer from another, you first need to allow remote connections on the computer you want to access, which must be running one of the following versions of Windows:

  • Windows XP professional edition
  • Windows Vista Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise edition
  • Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise edition
  • Windows 8 Pro edition
Follow these steps to configure the PC you want to access.
  1. Right-click Computer, then click Properties.
    (if Computer is not shown on your Desktop, right-click on Desktop ->
    click Personalize -> click Change desktop icons in the left pane ->
    check Computer then hit OK to confirm settings. )
  2. In the left pane, click Remote settings. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  3. Under Remote Desktop, check Allow remote connections to this computer. I suggest uncheck Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication, so we can use other applications besides Remote Desktop Connection for remote control as described in later sections.
  4. Click Select Users…

  5. Click Add…
  6. Type in the user name whom you allow to remote access this computer. Then click Check Names. If the user name isn’t found, click Advanced to run an advanced search.
  7. When the correct name is found, click OK. The name will be displayed in the list of users in the Remote Desktop Users dialog box.
  8. Click OK, then OK again.

Next we need to find the internal IP address to the PC you want to access.

  1. Press Win and R keys at the same time.
  2. Type cmd then hit Enter. This will launch the Command Prompt tool.
  3. Type ipconfig and hit the Enter key.
  4. Write down the value next to IPv4 Address.
    You’ll need this address when you turn on port forwarding in your router.
    If the ipconfig command doesn’t work on your machine, follow these steps to find the IP address:
  1. Click the network/wireless icon located on the right side of the task bar.
  2. Click Network and Sharing Center
  3. Next to Connections, click the link for your current network connection (either Wireless Network Connection or Local Area Connection).
  4. Click Details.
  5. Write down the IP address listed next to IPv4 Address. You’ll need this address when you turn on port forwarding in your router.

Configure Home Router NAT Settings

To allow remote connections from outside of your home network, you need to set up your router to forward remote access requests to the computer that you want to connect to.

  1. On any home network computer that’s connected to the Internet, open a web browser and type in the internal IP address of your router. This address will usually be 192.168.1.1, 192.168.0.1, 192.168.11.1, or 192.168.2.1. Refer to the instructions that came with your router if you need more information about accessing the router’s configuration screen.
    Your router interface may appear differently than mine, but you can try out each menu and should eventually find NAT or Port Forwarding settings.
  2. In the Port Forwarding window, click Add to add a new entry.
  3. Type 3389 in both Port from and Port to field.
  4. In the IP Address field, fill in the IP address earlier we get from the last section.
  5. Click Enable, then Apply Settings.

To access more than one of your home computers from outside the network, you can forward an additional TCP port to each additional computer. For example, you can forward TCP port 3390 to a second computer, TCP port 3391 to a third computer, and so on. Then change the listening port, the port that Remote Desktop listens to for incoming network traffic that matches that port, on each computer to match the number you assigned. When you use Remote Desktop Connection to connect to these computers, type the IP address of the router, followed by a colon and the port number (for example, 208.147.66.254:3390).

Changing the listening port is also helpful as a security measure, since a malicious user might first try port 3389, the default for Remote Desktop Connection. By changing the listening port, the malicious user has to guess which port you’ve chosen.

What Applications to Use

On windows, you can use the builtin Remote Desktop . 

On Mac, you can download Remote Desktop for Mac or CoRD.

On iPhone/iPad, I’ve tried various options, and PocketCloud is the best. I like PocketCloud’s virtual mouse for precise clicks and scrolling.

Now we need to find your home router’s public IP address. 

While you’re still at home and connected to your home network open a web browser and google “IP”, then Google will tell you what your public IP address is. Write down and fill in any of the applications mentioned above or any other options that supports RDP protocol.

Now you are all set and ready connect.

Advanced: Get a Domain Name for Easy Access

For now, you are able to remote control your PC. But it is obviously troublesome to memorize your home network’s IP address and enter those digits every time you connect. To make it more convenient, we introduce domain name.

With domain name, you just use a short human readable name instead of the long tedious boring digits with dots.

You may get your domain name from any domain name providers if you don’t have one already. The most famous domain name providers are Domain.com and GoDaddy. I personally use Domain.com for some reason. (I used GoDaddy long ago, but moved to Domain.com because GoDaddy did something really bad and pretty much disappointed me. If you are curious about why, read my previous post How Computer-Mediated Social Interactions Stop SOPA).

The following steps will guide you to point your domain name to your home network.
This tutorial uses Domain.com, other domain providers may appear differently than Domain.com, but the concept is the same. Here we just need to change your domain name’s type A recordIf you have no idea about domain name, DNS, or type A record, see my previous post on Introduction to DNS.

  1. Login to Domain.com and click DomainCentral to manage domains.

    I have four domains registered, and will use jjpro.me for this demo.
  2. Click the domain name you want to use, jjpro.me for our demo.
  3. From the drop down menu next to Modify:, select A Record.
  4. From the Action column drop down menu in the line of jjpro.me, select Edit.
  5. Change the IP address in Points To: field to your home network’s public IP address.
  6. Click Save.
Note: The modification to your domain name’s type A record may take up to 24 hours to take effect.

Now, I can use domain name jjpro.me for remote connection to my home PC.
Here is a shot of the login window in Remote Desktop for Mac

Cheers! I’m logged in:

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