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Using Mac to access Windows through the Remote Desktop in 2021

A handy way to access your Windows PC over a Mac using the remote desktop tool - AnyDesk.

Updated: September 20, 2021 By Ozair Malik

Man sitting on the bank and using MacBook with a cup of coffee

Image source – freepik.com

Gone are the days when accessing the Windows or Mac systems remotely was practically inefficient. Now, we have many tools programmed over RDP for this purpose that bridge the gap between two computing environments by providing a secure and encrypted remote connection. 

If you are working from home and need to access official files stored on your office Windows system. Do not worry; I have a handy solution for you to remotely access your official system via your Mac at home.


Remotely Access Windows through a Mac via AnyDesk

Why AnyDesk?

Out of many available tools, AnyDesk is the most reliable and a great alternative to the official Microsoft tool – the Microsoft Remote Desktop app. Although Microsoft’s app is free and readily available on the App Store, it provides limited features, security, and a boring GUI.

AnyDesk is a cross-platform tool that supports 34 devices, including Windows, Mac OSX, Android, IOS, and Linux. The main features that distinguish it from the built-in RDP tool include:

  • Collaboration Tools for Teams
  • Text, Voice, and Video Chat
  • Remote Session Recording
  • Whiteboard for animation and drawing
  • Address Book for saving connections
  • Clean User Interface
  • Smooth PC to Mobile Connection
  • Works on Lower Bandwidths
  • Efficient Screen Scaling
  • Supports Multi-Monitor
  • Privacy Mode and access control

Security of the remote connection is the core element here, and AnyDesk has taken sound care of it, unlike RDP. It establishes a remote connection over standard TLS 1.2 technology and uses RSA 2048 asymmetric key exchange encryption.

Alongside, it uses salted password hashing to protect user passwords. Hence, decryption or cracking is almost impossible. A multi-factor authentication feature is available to secure new sessions. 

How to set up AnyDesk Client on a Mac?

  1. Download AnyDesk Client
  2. Run the setup (.dmg file)
  3. Install the AnyDesk Tool
  4. Configure the Permissions

Just grab a cup of coffee and follow through the steps below to successfully configure the AnyDesk client tool on your system and enjoy remote connections.

1. Download AnyDesk Client

Firstly, you need to download the client tool on your Mac. For this, visit www.anydesk.com and download the latest version, 6.3.1, available for Mac. 

Before installing, make sure you have Mac OS 10.11 or later because the AnyDesk 6.3 doesn’t support the lower versions.

2. Run the setup (.dmg file)

  1. Go to the downloads tab of the browser.
  2. Open the anydesk.dmg file. 
  3. A window will appear with the AnyDesk logo at the bottom. Double click the logo.
  4. If a security warning appears, click on open.

Congratulations, the AnyDesk client is successfully installed. But, hold on, there is more to it.

AnyDesk download prompt with AnyDesk logo highlighted in red square

3. Install the AnyDesk Tool

You might be confused about what did I install earlier by opening the .dmg file? 

You are going right, do not worry.

The earlier was portable installation hosted on the web. It did not contain a complete package including AnyDesk services which is essential for the accessibility of all features. 

Once you are at the AnyDesk client window, click install now to proceed with complete package installation.

After the successful installation, you have a complete AnyDesk application installed locally on your system.

4. Configure the Permissions

Now you need to grant “Accessibility” and “Screen Recording” permissions.

To grant permissions:

  1. Go to Settings-> Security & Privacy.
  2. Select “Accessibility” from the list.
  3. Click on the lock icon at the bottom left of the window to unlock the access.
  4. Enter admin username and password to allow making changes.
  5. Checkmark AnyDesk from the list of applications.
  6. Select “Screen Recording” from the list.
  7. Checkmark AnyDesk from the available applications.

AnyDesk main window with AnyDesk status and Permissions dialog box highlighted in red square

How to set up AnyDesk Client on Windows?

  1. Download AnyDesk Client
  2. Execute the setup (.exe file)
  3. Install the AnyDesk application

You would have this question in your mind: Why AnyDesk on windows when I already set it up on Mac. 

Let me clarify this: we need to have the AnyDesk client on both a host and remote systems to establish a session.

1. Download AnyDesk Client

  1. Visit www.anydesk.com.
  2. Click on Windows Icon.
  3. Click on “Download Now” to download AnyDesk v6.3.2 for Windows.

2. Execute the setup (.exe file)

Go to the download tab of your browser and open the AnyDesk.exe file.

When the file is executing, you will be prompted to give permission to run the setup. Thus, grant the permission to complete the execution.

Once executed, the AnyDesk client window will appear.

3. Install the AnyDesk application

Likewise, in Mac, you need to install the complete package after the client tool is downloaded successfully. 

For this, click on the “Install AnyDesk on this Device” option that appears in the Install AnyDesk section on the main window opened at step 3. 

AnyDesk main window screenshot with Installation menu highlighted

AnyDesk installation dialog window screenshot

AnyDesk Weclome window screenshot after installation

How to connect to remote PC over AnyDesk?

Unlike Microsoft’s RDC app, establishing a remote connection via AnyDesk is a piece of cake, and even a non-techy user can do that. You just need to open the application on Mac and enter the AnyDesk ID of the Windows AnyDesk client. 

Hurray! You can control your Windows system through a Mac. The tool will emulate almost any user experience similar to physical access. You can perform everything from accessing open files, pictures to browsing on the internet. 

Also, can find the AnyDesk ID on the main window of the AnyDesk tool.

AnyDesk main window screenshot with AnyDesk ID highlighted

AnyDesk Mac main window screenshot with Remote Desk ID text field highlighted with a red square


Which is better: AnyDesk or Microsoft’s RDC?

Although both the tools provide remote access to the systems. But, No doubt, AnyDesk is far more superior to Microsoft’s remote desktop connection app in terms of features, GUI, ease of use and, accessibility. 

Moreover, AnyDesk is just Plug-and-Play, unlike RDC, which requires the configuration of a remote desktop assistant. Non-techy users find it cumbersome.

The major downside to RDC is minimal security and privacy. Also, it does not support Linux, whereas AnyDesk covers around 32 devices. 

Hence, to make it easy for you to decide; 

RDP is suitable for fundamental personal use, and AnyDesk is great for corporate and business use. 

Besides that, the free version of AnyDesk also provides extensive features well suited for student collaboration in times of pandemic.


Conclusion

There are many third-party tools available for remote access other than the built-in RDC tool. The reliability, security and, privacy is the main challenge because you would not ever want to get your remote session hijacked by an attacker. 

Remote access has been in practice since the advent of the remote desktop protocol. Still, in the recent times of pandemic, it has increased manifold. The rapid increase and adaption have also increased session hijacking, man in the middle (MITM) attacks resulting in loss of confidential data.

The common vulnerabilities that attackers exploit are unsecured networks, poor organizational protocols and policies, phishing, unauthorized apps, and unauthorized or unauthenticated access to devices.

Organizations must devise solid remote access policies and train their employees accordingly. Moreover, make sure that relevant industry-standard security measures are being implemented.

For individuals, you should always use reliable and trusted third-party tools. Moreover, make sure that the remote system doesn’t contain critical data in the open.

Please let me know below if you know about any other 3-P reliable and secure remote access tool or open-source protocol.

Tags: 
Technology
Author
Ozair Malik
A passionate Cyber Security researcher and writer with a keen interest in Digital Forensics. A community worker running a insta blog to raise cybersecurity awareness among laymen.

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