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How to access your PC via iPad: GoToMyPC

For corporate users, the GoToMyPC app is a free and easy way to access your work PC from your iPad. There are better remote access apps, however, for consumers.

GoToMyPC's iPad app looks polished and is easy to use. Matt Elliott/CNET

There are cheaper and more fully featured options for using an iPad to remotely access a PC than GoToMyPC (Exhibit A: LogMeIn Ignition, Exhibit B: Splashtop Remote Desktop). If your company already has you set up with a Citrix GoToMyPC account, however, the iOS app is free and provides the basics of easy and secure access to PCs and Macs. Therefore, here is a brief tutorial on how to set up and use the service.

After installing the GoToMyPC app on your iPad, you will need to install a small application from the GoToMyPC Web site on the PCs and Macs you'd like to remotely access. In order to download the desktop app, you'll need a corporate account already, pay a $99 annual fee per client, or sign up for a 30-day free trial. When installing the desktop client, you'll be asked to create an access code, which you'll then need to enter on your iPad when you connect to the PC.

Launch the app on your iPad, and you'll see your remote PCs and Macs with GoToMyPC. Unlike LogMeIn Ignition, which has an admittedly limited wake-on-LAN feature, the remote clients must be powered on for you to see them listed on your iPad. Click the connect button and you'll gain remote control over your desktop.

You can call up the onscreen keyboard from the menu bar at the top of the screen or with a three-finger tap. Matt Elliott/CNET

A menu bar sits at the top of the screen, with buttons to call up the keyboard or the arrow keys. There's another button to disconnect, and a useless Preferences button (useless because the only option listed is to uninstall the desktop app, at least on the MacBook Pro on which I installed the 30-day free trial).

You can also tap the screen with three fingers to call up the keyboard. Other gestures include two-finger tap to right-click, two-finger scroll to scroll through long documents or Web pages, and pinch zoom.

GoToMyPC helpfully illustrates the various gestures at your disposal. Matt Elliott/CNET

Aside from the high price, detracting from GoToMyPC's consumer appeal is its inability to copy or move files to the iPad, as you can with LogMeIn Ignition. And streaming video results in choppy, silent playback. Splashtop Remote Desktop was able to smoothly stream video, complete with audio. For iPad owners with a corporate GoToMyPC account, however, the app is free and secure. As GoToMyPC states, "All data, including screen images, and keyboard and mouse input, is fully encrypted from end to end using 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption. No unencrypted information is ever stored on our system."