Difference Between Citrix Receiver and Online Plug-in

By John Lister

The Online plug-in works on computers but not other devices such as tablets.
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Citrix Receiver is the software you use on your own device to work remotely while connected to your organization's network. The Online plug-in is one of several tools that bring additional features; it helps integrate your Citrix connection with the applications and file management on your computer.

Basic Setup

Citrix works by connecting the user's device with the main network, for example at a business's headquarters. The business will set up software on the network, most commonly on a server physically located in its premises. This software could be any of a range of applications available from Citrix, with different options for businesses with different sizes and technical set-ups. The user then runs software called Citrix Receiver on his own device to connect to the main network.

Citrix Receiver

Although Citrix Receiver is available for a wide range of devices and operating systems, it is designed on the Citrix website help section as a "universal software client." This means that, as far as possible, the experience of using it is the same on all devices. It also means that as long as the user has the correct log-in credentials, it doesn't matter what specific device he uses to connect to the system.


The user can add extra software on her device to get additional features. This extra software, known as plug-ins, works within Citrix Receiver itself. The plug-ins aren't designed to work as separate, independent applications.

Online Plug-In

The Online Plug-In is only available for computers. It is designed to make the process of using Citrix on your computer much smoother. The user manual explains that the plug-in offers "Transparent integration of published resources and virtual desktops into user’s desktop." In other words, when using the plug-in, you don't have to open a specific Citrix "window" on your computer to work in. All the applications and files on the remote system are listed and displayed as if they were on your own computer. This feature makes the experience similar to using a computer in the main office.