Use Windows Live Mesh To Access Your Computer Remotely

Windows Live Mesh 2011, as it’s called now, is part of Microsoft’s ‘Live Essentials’ package of software. It has three purposes:

  • Access your computer(s) remotely (what this article is about)
  • Sync files across computers and in the cloud, using your SkyDrive (next week’s article)
  • Sync your Microsoft Office and Explorer settings across computers

You can find the Essentials download at the above link. When you click to run the .exe, you’ll choose which of the essentials you want to install. If you’re a bit confused about the name of this software, join the club. Is it Live Mesh, is it Microsoft Live Sync, or what? Microsoft went back and forth on the name, but now they’ve apparently settled on Live Mesh 2011. If you have/had the beta Mesh or the Microsoft Sync, then you’ll be stepped through the process to uninstall it before installing Mesh 2011. Sorry, doesn’t work with a Mac, Windows XP or Windows Server 2003.

After Mesh is installed and you bring up the program, you’ll be asked to enter your Live ID (as you do for any Essentials program). Notice at the top left the ‘Status’ and ‘Remote’ areas. Since we’re talking about the remote services, click on the word ‘remote’, and you’ll see the below. In order to gain access, you will need to have a Windows account with a password set up on it. If one of your computers doesn’t have a password, no access. The other necessity to connect remotely is for your other computer to be on and ‘awake’. If the remote computer is sleeping or hibernating, mesh won’t wake it up.

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You’ll see the below screen after clicking on ‘Remote’—a list of computers connected to your Live ID. The family computer is grayed out, not available because it was asleep. Below that, the ‘Lynn Lenovo-PC’ is in color with a green indicator button and a hyperlink. Click on the hyperlink and you’ll get another pop-up that says you’ll be connected to the other computer in 30 seconds. If there’s someone at the other computer, they will see a notice that someone wants to connect to the computer remotely and they will have the opportunity to say no.

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Your screen will flash (mine did), and you might automatically be switched over to Windows 7 Basic color scheme. You will need to log into the remote computer with the password (security feature), and then you’ll be in and it’ll be as if you were sitting right in front of your computer with access to programs, files, anything. You’ll still have access to your main computer as well. You’ll see a tab at the top of your screen. It looks like what you see if you use remote desktop—but that’s pretty much what you’re doing.

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Besides using Mesh to get to a file, program or folder on your hard drive, you could help out a family member with a PC problem, (a free GoToAssist solution), do some troubleshooting or collaborate on a project with Live Mesh.

I’ve thought about the possibility of using Mesh to access a computer that isn’t mine in order to do troubleshooting. To do this, Mesh would have to be installed on that computer and I would have to share my Live ID with whoever has the computer in order to set it up correctly, so it’s something I,  and most will not want to do.

The Remote Access feature of Live Mesh is easily set up and can be a big lifesaver to either retrieve a file, use a program or do some troubleshooting. Next week, we’ll take a look at the sync side of Live Mesh.

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