TeamViewer – Access Computers Remotely or Host Meetings
key review info
- Application: TeamViewer 8.0.16901
- Reviewed on:
- Instant remote support – no need for any installation on the client side
- (2 more, see all...)
More often than not, being able to connect remotely to your work or home computer can get you out of trouble. TeamViewer is the application that makes the entire process as easy as it gets.
TeamViewer is designed to meet two common necessities for people who work on the go: the possibility to offer assistance from a remote location and the tools to organize a conference and exchange ideas, even if your team members are not in the same location. The fact that you can quickly and securely transfer files between computers will also prove very useful.
TeamViewer comes as a free download for personal use and you will receive a reminder to play fair at the end of each session. For business users, the developers offer additional applications (that can be personalized), focused on specific tasks and improving the user experience on the client side.
The TeamViewer download includes the install package, an uninstaller application and a RunOnly app: you can launch TeamViewer from the volume if you are in a hurry. The installer creates a ‘TeamViewer 8’ folder into your Applications and also copies the uninstall tool to your drive, so you will be able to correctly remove the app at all times (you can choose to keep the configuration files in case you need them again).
TeamViewer presents a simple, intuitive and highly functional design. The main window is separated in two tabs: the ‘Remote Control’ panel and the ‘Meeting’ panel. From the bottom right corner you can toggle the ‘Computers&Contacts’ window, you can create a TeamViewer account free of charge to facilitate the connection to a predefined computer and communicate with other TeamViewer users.
The ‘Computers&Contacts’ window design resembles a chat client and provides basic features: you can choose a status (Online, Busy, Away or Show as offline), create groups, add contacts and computers, or simply chat.
If you create a remote connection, TeamViewer will display a large window where you can see the host’s desktop. In this case, the TeamViewer tools can be accessed via an auto-hiding toolbar located at the top of the window.
If you are on the computer that is being controlled or if you are in Meeting mode, the TeamViewer ‘Session’ window will become active, offering a wide range of communication tools: you can enable a video or audio connection, chat or view the Conference call details.
No matter the task at hand, TeamViewer proposes intuitive solutions: newcomers find their way fast enough, but the extensive documentation can also prove useful considering the wide collection of features. There is a problem though: the manuals are written for the TeamViewer Windows program and some features are not yet available in the Mac OS X application.
The first time you run TeamViewer, you will see the Setup assistant: its purpose is to help you input a password that will grant unattended remote access to the machine. This initial set up is optional and you can change the password from the ‘Preferences’ window or from the main window any time you like.
The next step depends on what you want to accomplish: on the left side of the ‘Remote Control’ tab (the ‘Allow Remote Control’ area) you can see your computer ID and password. This is the information you need to provide to other users who want to connect to your device (the ID and ‘Personal Password’ for unattended access).
To control other computers, you must input the host’s TeamViewer ID and password in the ‘Control Remote Computer’ side of the window. At the bottom, you can choose the connection type: ‘Remote Control’ or ‘File Transfer.’
The first option will grant access to the host’s desktop via a large window, while the second allows you to quickly browse the drives of both computers and transfer documents or folders between them. Most importantly, the two do not work completely separated: the ‘File Transfer’ panel can be easily accessed from the ‘Remote Control’ window (you will find a button in the top toolbar).
The ‘File Transfer’ mode supports two ‘Access Control’ types: ‘Full Access’ or ‘Confirm All.’ The default selection is ‘Full Access,’ in which case the user from the host computer will simply view the log of your activity (a ‘Stop file transfer!’ button is also available on the host side). Naturally, if ‘Confirm All’ is enabled, you will be able to transfer files only with your counterpart’s permission.
The ‘File Transfer’ tool works like any other file manager and displays the home computer on the left and the remote machine on the right side of the window. Noteworthy is the fact that it does not come with drag and drop support: all the transfers are accomplished via the ‘Send’ and ‘Receive’ buttons included in the top toolbar.
The access type options in ‘Remote Control’ mode are slightly more complex: you can connect with ‘Full Access,’ ‘Confirm All,’ ‘View and Show’ or ‘Custom Settings.’ You can view the details of each control type and configure your ‘Custom Settings’ in the ‘Preferences’ window. The access rights include: ‘Connect and view my screen,’ ‘Control this computer,’ ‘Transfer files,’ ‘Lock the local keyboard and mouse,’ ‘Control the local TeamViewer’ and ‘View my screen via switching sides.’
Once you are connected, you can easily control the remote computer, switch sides, Force Quit applications, Lock the computer on the spot or when the session ends, adjust the video and audio quality, record the session, invite additional participants and much more. Although present in the top menu bar, certain features do not work on Mac OS X, at least for now: ‘Remote Reboot,’ ‘Send key combinations,’ ‘Disable remote input,’ ‘Show black screen.’
The TeamViewer account will prove especially useful if you want to connect to different devices without having an actual person on the other side: it can remember the computer’s ID and you can use the ‘Personal Password’ to connect. The tricky part is that the host computer can have the screensaver activated, but must not be in ‘Sleep’ mode: in this case TeamViewer will consider the machine offline and cannot “wake it up.”
TeamViewer is not only about control: in the ‘Meeting’ tab of the main window you will find all the necessary tools to host, schedule and join meetings. TeamViewer allows you to host two types of meetings: instant and scheduled. When you plan a meeting (a TeamViewer account is required), you can set up an access password (although it is only optional, it is advisable to use one). The access password for instant meetings must be set up from the ‘Preferences’ window.
The ‘My meetings’ panel allows you to edit, delete or start planned conferences and send invites. If the meeting already started, or in the case of instant meetings, you can quickly ask other users to join from the TeamViewer ‘Session’ window. Joining a meeting is a quite straightforward process: all you need is the ‘Meeting ID’ and the password (if one is used).
The TeamViewer ‘Session’ window will prove useful both in the ‘Remote Control’ and ‘Meeting’ modes, since it is the host for most communication and multimedia features. In the ‘Session’ window you can chat with other participants, set up a ‘Voice over IP’ connection, view the conference call details or share your video stream. If you are the one hosting the meeting, the ‘Screen sharing’ widget will offer you the possibility to choose the ‘Presenting screen’ (when more than one displays are connected) and monitor the video stream sent to your guests via a thumbnail conveniently placed in the TeamViewer ‘Session’ window.
You can establish the Participants' interaction rights in the ‘Preferences’ window: you can ‘Allow’ or ‘Allow manually’ the audio, video or chat communication, the cursor pointing or the possibility to see other participants. The same area allows you to create your own invite templates, adjust the default audio and video quality, block certain accounts, disable the random password and much more.
The TeamViewer connections are quite secure: the app generates a random password for each session (you can disable that from the ‘Preferences’ though), so take into account that you are solely responsible for what you do with that information. By default, TeamViewer provides full access to your computer so you must be very careful who you let in.
TeamViewer is using a large chunk of your resources if you are on the host side of the Remote Control session or if you are hosting a meeting (up to 70% of your CPU). In some cases, we've had problems with the wallpaper rendering, but you can adjust the resolution and video quality to eliminate the issue. Ultimately, TeamViewer gets the job done and its development, hoping that all the features included in the Windows program will be implemented soon, is going in the right direction.
Although a quite complex application, TeamViewer is very easy to use thanks to its simple and intuitive approach to any task. This way, connecting to and controlling a remote machine is not only easy to accomplish, but also quite fast.
Since you can run TeamViewer from its mounted volume, you do not need to actually install the app for a one-time use. Following the same pattern, remote control isn't necessary if you just want to transfer files (this is extremely useful if you are low on resources).
The ‘Meeting’ mode will also prove to be a life saver if you need to make a presentation or work on a project while having your team scattered all over the world.
The TeamViewer documentation is focused mainly on the Windows application without at least stating which features are not yet available on other platforms.
The TeamViewer connections are secure and you can limit the access by implementing confirmation messages and modifying the access rights, but, in order to do that, you must know what you should look for and where. TeamViewer does not warn you in any way about how vulnerable you become once a connection is established and how you can take minimal precautions at least.
TeamViewer is an amazing application if you need to communicate with your team, offer assistance remotely, transfer files between computers in no time and much more.
Straightforward and uncomplicated on the surface, TeamViewer has the depth to become an indispensable tool in your day-to-day activity.
Here are some snapshots of the application in action: