[How-To] Use Gmail to Remote Control your PC

Its a known fact that Gmail is the most popular email service available today. Though, utilities for using Gmail as a disk space were out pretty long back; there is another interesting utility called GCALDaemon which can be used to remote control your PC using Gmail.

GCALDaemon is an OS-independent Java program that offers two-way synchronization between Google Calendar and various iCalendar compatible calendar applications. GCALDaemon was primarily designed as a calendar synchronizer but it can also be used as a Gmail notifier, Address Book importer, Gmail terminal and RSS feed converter. GCALDaemon uses very less memory ( ~ 10-20 MB) and runs in service mode on Windows NT/2000/XP.

GCALDaemon, when initially installed, is not configured to do anything. Based on the services you wish to use, it should be configured. In this post, we shall be using GCALDaemon to remote control our PC. As a practical implementation, this scenario can be useful to users who have a very protected network but still wish to do certain tasks with it. It assumes that port 80 of your computer is open. 🙂

GCALDaemon can be used to remote control your PC

GCALDaemon’s ‘mailterm’ service enables Gmail users to remotely control their PC by sending an email to their Gmail account. This management service keeps checking a Gmail inbox regularly, if it finds an email from a trusted sender and with a secret subject, it reads and executes a specified script file. Then GCALDaemon sends back a response, which contains the script’s output. Most mobile carriers and recent phones have built-in support for sending email through SMS gateways, therefore a simple cellural phone should be enough to manage a computer.

In order to configure ‘mailterm‘ service follow the steps mentioned below

1.) Install GCALDaemon. You can download GCALDaemon from here

2.) Enable IMAP on your Gmail. Check my previous postGmail gets IMAP Support for further information on this.

3.) You will need to encode your Password by starting out the Password Encoder application. This application takes in your Gmail Password and encodes it. Copy the encoded password.

GCALDaemon-Password Encoder feature encodes the password

4.) Open ‘gcal-daemon.cfg’ and edit the same with your favorite text editor. On Windows, this file is located in C:\Program Files\GCalDaemon\conf\gcal-daemon.cfg as part of the default installation. In case, if you have chosen to change the installation path, please look for the file in the respective location.

A) Set the ‘mailterm.enabled’ property to ‘true’
B) Set the ‘mailterm.google.username’ property to your Gmail address
C) Set the ‘mailterm.google.password’ property to your encoded password

Configuring Mailterm in GCALDaemon

5.) At the time of setup, you may choose your own unique email subject for mailterm. This subject must be at least 6-8 characters long and contain a combination of letters and numbers. Basically, you do not want any word or number which can be associated with you, or typical in ordinary messages. The subject is case sensitive. Start the password encoder again, input your mailterm subject and press ENTER. Copy the encoded subject.

Cinfiguring Mailterm on GCALDaemon- Part2

6.) 6) Edit the ‘gcal-daemon.cfg’ with text editor.

GCALDaemon- Configuring Mailterm Part3

A) Put the encoded subject for the variable ‘mailterm.mail.subject’.
B) Put the list of the trusted e-mail senders for the variable ‘mailterm.allowed.addresses’.

7.) Create a new script file (BAT or SH) and save this file into the mailterm’s scipt folder (e.g. ‘/scripts/ls.bat‘). The folder’s location is determined by the ‘mailterm.dir.path’ property in the gcal-daemon.cfg file.

Configuring Mailterm on GCALDaemon-4

8) Setup finished – launch GCALDaemon.

9) Create a new mail message, put your mailterm subject for the mail’s title, and enter you mailterm command in script name [optional parameters] format. You can use either a single quotation mark (‘) or quotation marks (“) to enclose script parameters.

Configuring Mailterm on GCALDaemon - Part5

10) Click on ‘Send’ button. You will receive the script’s output within 10 minutes after submitting your mail.

Configuring mailterm on GCALDaemon - Part7

You can further do some fine adjustments to this installation. Please visit the official page of GCALDaemon for further details.

Also read: Interesting Gmail Hacks

How-to Exclude Chat from Gmail Search Results

How-to show unread mails at the top in your inbox in Gmail.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/vaibhav1981

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11 Responses

  1. Hi Vaibhav,

    I found this article very useful and well framed catering to the needs of a novice user.

  2. Wow i had no idea Gmail was able to do this!

  3. This is cool. Can I control my PC wiith my cell phone and interface? Thanks!
    ~ anemi

  4. Interesting way to remote control, but the setup a little geeky though…

    Great information!

  5. […] [How-To] Use Gmail to Remote Control your PC […]

  6. […] there is another interesting utility called GCALDaemon which can be used to remote control your Phttp://technofriends.in/2008/04/28/how-to-use-gmail-to-remote-control-your-pc/Sun gears JavaFX for consumer move InfoWorld JavaFX, introduced by Sun last year as a Java-based […]

  7. Hi Vaibhav,

    Your blog contains really very useful Information . I have added your blog in my favourities & visit it frequently .
    Keep up the good work!


  8. pl. inform me regarding remote control of pc

  9. Hi vaibhav,

    nice posting.. good idea to control a pc remotly..you have specified “recent phones have built-in support for sending email through SMS gateways”. can you give a name+model of such a phone..

    with regards,

  10. Hi,

    Cool Post. Its a very lengthy setup though, but its definitely worth trying. Google is surely opening up everything to be used by us. This is why I am a big fan of google.

    I was browsing through code.google.com and I was overwhelmed at the things that we can do with Google Services.

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