Control your digital world from your mobile device

 Nov 17, 2014

We live in a world where we can hook up our laptops or PCs to a television and watch our favourite movies or listen to music. One of the issues we face when doing this is that we cannot use our TV remote to control what happens, such as to pause and resume. When you have this situation, you are more likely to use your keyboard and mouse to operate your machine on the TV and with this in mind you always have your keyboard and mouse close by. This can be troublesome because it can be in your way and it can take up space on the coffee table. Alternatively, why not use your smart phone or tablet as a remote for your computer? With this concept, we want to take full control over our PC. This includes using the remote to handle playback of media and moving the mouse cursor to type with the keyboard at will. Let me introduce Unified Remote, a this small little app can be used to accomplish this goal. This app comes in two parts. The first part goes on to the machine you want to control, such as your home PC (this works great on Linux and Mac machines too) and the second part goes on to any mobile device you want to use as a remote. The first step involves setting up on your PC that you want to use by following these steps:
  1. Follow the simple setup wizard to complete the installation.
  2. Once installed, you will see the server is up and running on the computer. To connect and use your mobile device as a remote, you must know the IP address for your machine.
That is all that is needed to get started with the server. You can go ahead and configure more as you see fit. After installing the server on your machine, you can now download the Unified Remote app on your mobile device. Since I am using an Android device, I will download it from the app store. Once you have the app downloaded and installed, you can run it. Once again you have to perform a few steps to get it working. Please take note that your computer and your mobile device needs to be on the same network to communicate to each other. For example, you can have your home computer connected to your router and your mobile device connected to the WIFI. The steps to complete the setup and start using your remote is as follows:
  1. When you run Unified Remote on your mobile device, you will have to connect to the server (this is the first part is completed on the PC). If your network is set up correctly, Unified Remote can automatically detect that there is a server running. Otherwise, you will have to set up the connection to the server manually.
  2. If the app has detected your server, you are done with the setup and you can just select the server. Otherwise, perform the next step.
  3. To define a server manually, you need to fill in the display name, IP address and port number of the PC you installed the server on. The rest of the information is all optional and the defaults should be enough for a basic installation.
  4. After you have your phone connected to the server, you will have the power to control your entire PC with your mobile phone. Things you can control from your phone ranges from mouse movement, keyboard input and media playlists.
There you have it, full control over your PC from the power of your mobile device!

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About the Author:

Auret Swanepoel  

As a recent addition to the New Horizons team, Auret is a highly skilled and qualified IT Technical trainer. He has been a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) since 2008 and has since then, also become a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) and a Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP). With his international experience as a trainer in South Africa, Auret is able to adapt his teaching style to different audiences in the classroom and ensure that students are learning in a positive and collaborative environment.

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