Information Services

Guide to accessing remote software

This page gives help and guidance on how to access software remotely at the University of Edinburgh.

While access to software is provided on open access computers in University labs and libraries, the number of these devices available is restricted due to the need for social distancing. 

Remote access has been made available for applications which would normally be accessed in the University. 

Not all applications are available to everyone – your course will determine which applications you have access to.

Open access computers

Accessing remote software – before you start

To access applications remotely, you need to be online, and using a reliable internet connection. Please be aware that the first time you access remote software, it may take up to 60 seconds to start up. This is the system logging you in. Please be patient. 

Finding the application you need  

In some cases, the application you need may already be installed on the device you are using – you can check your device to see if this is the case.

If you don’t already have the app, you can find all the applications available for remote access on the remote software apps list. Use the search box or A-Z list to find the application you want. Selecting an app from the list will provide specific details of how to access it. 

Not all applications are available to everyone – your course will determine which applications you have access to.

Search the remote software apps list 


Ways to access applications remotely

The technology we use to make the applications available may change over time. For this reason, please start on the remote software apps list page every time you need to use an application to make sure you access it in the right way. For each app in the list you will find specific access details. Different apps are accessed in different ways, described below:

Search the remote software apps list 

Installing native clients to access apps

Most applications can be accessed remotely through one of two platforms, the Apps.Ed platform or Windows Virtual Desktop. Accessing apps through these platforms works best if you install the native client. Full details of how to do this for each platform are available on the following pages: 

Windows Virtual Desktop page

Apps.Ed page 

Streaming apps

If you don’t install the native client, you can access the application by streaming– in other words – accessing it in your browser. Streaming an app instead of accessing it through the client software may mean fewer features are available.

Downloading apps

Several applications can be directly downloaded onto your device for free. In some cases, the application you require may already be installed on the device you are using – you should check to if an app is already installed before starting a fresh download.

Installing apps directly

Some University Schools will have a licence for the application you require, meaning you can install it directly on your own device. You can check which licences are available on the student software list. If your School does have a licence, contact them to obtain the relevant information to install the application. 

Check the student software list

Remote Labs 

Some Schools provide specialist software on devices within University labs, and you may be able to access this software by remotely connecting to the devices which have this software installed. This is known as remote desktop protocol (RDP) and is achieved through the Remote Labs site. If an app seems to be available through Remote Labs, check the access details with your School, as not all lab machines may have the software and not all applications are available to all students. You can find more information about remote access to lab computers on the Remote Labs page.

Remote Labs page 

Learn more about remote desktop protocol 

Storing data from applications 

When you want to save your work in an application, you should use the cloud-based file storage service, OneDrive, unless specifically advised otherwise by your course. Storing your files in OneDrive will mean you will be able to access them when you are using applications remotely. OneDrive works across all platforms, is available to all staff and students at any time and on any device through Office 365.


Access OneDrive

Find out more about Office 365

You should not store your work on local drives of your own device as you may not be able to access it when accessing apps remotely. 

Contact us for more help 

If you are unable to access the application you need, or you are experiencing problems with the service, please launch EdHelp for more help or to report problems.