How to use Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection
Remote Desktop Services (RDS) is a component in Microsoft operating systems that enables remote desktop connection access to a PC from another device, be that a mobile phone, a tablet, or another PC.
RDS has been built in to most versions of Microsoft Windows for over 30 years, and there are clients for Android, iOS/iPadOS, Windows Mobile, and Linux. If you’re looking to understand how to use Remote Desktop Connection (RDC), a Windows client for RDS, we’ve outlined the main steps below.
We consider Microsoft Remote Desktop one of the best remote desktop software options because it’s already included on most versions of Windows, and it offers a smooth remote administration experience. It’s completely free, and as such ranks among the best free remote desktop software platforms.
Use Your Home PC from ANYWHERE???
But if you’re looking to offer support to customers or remotely access computers over the internet, paid solutions like RemotePC or Zoho Assist are more versatile and easier to set up.
How to use Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection: Preparation
Before getting started with Remote Desktop, it’s important to understand a few details on available versions of the software.
While RDS has been bundled into most editions of Windows since Windows 2000, the available functionality is different in each edition. Early versions were called Terminal Services, and Windows 7 and 8 included a sister tool, Remote Assistance, that required extra steps for remote connections to work.
Most importantly, with Remote Desktop Services, you can’t connect to a computer running Windows 7 Starter or Home, Windows 8 Home, Windows 8.1 Home, or Windows 10 Home. If you need to remotely connect to these specific editions of Windows, we recommend Splashtop or TeamViewer instead.
You can use RDS to connect to all other editions of Windows, including Pro, Enterprise, and Education.
Remote Desktop Connection is an RDS client automatically installed on most Windows computers, but an alternative client called Microsoft Remote Desktop has been available since 2012. It can be downloaded for free from the Microsoft Store.
Microsoft Remote Desktop and Remote Desktop Connection function the same way under the hood, connecting to the remote computer using Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). There’s no performance difference between the two clients. So, the choice between using the classic Remote Desktop Connection interface or the more modern Microsoft Remote Desktop tool comes down to personal preference.
In this guide, we’ll use Remote Desktop Connection and connect to a Windows 10 Pro computer.
Step 1: Enable Remote Desktop on the server
The computer you’re going to connect to needs to be set to accept Remote Desktop connections. On Windows 10, you’ll find the Remote Desktop settings by clicking on the Start button, choosing “Settings”, and searching for “Remote Desktop” settings.
Here, ensure “Enable Remote Desktop” is set to “On”. Note the name of the computer, too, as it will be used in a later step.
Step 2 (optional): Set the Remote Desktop port
By default, Remote Desktop listens on port 3389. If your network setup requires you use a different port, or if you prefer to change the port for security reasons, you can do so by changing a setting in the Windows registry.
Press the Windows key and R to bring up the Run menu, and type RegEdit. Navigate through the registry on the left side of the tool to find: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server\WinStations\RDP-TCP.
Find the entry for PortNumber, right-click it, and choose “Modify”. Set the radio box to “Decimal”, enter the port number you want to use, and click “OK”. Reboot the machine, and Remote Desktop will now be listening on the new port.
Step 3: Set a password on your user account
Remote Desktop won’t work if your Windows user account doesn’t have a password set. This can happen if you solely use another method to log in to Windows, such as a PIN, or if you’ve disabled the requirement for a password to log in to the computer.
In the Windows settings tool (available in the Windows start menu), search for “Sign-in options”. Check that under “Password”, it’s stated that your password is all set up to sign in to Windows. Otherwise, click on “Add” and enter a new password. This will be used to log in to your computer when it’s locked, and will be the password used in Remote Desktop Connection.
If you’d prefer not to place a password on your main account, you can create a separate user account for Remote Desktop. However, this does mean that your main account will be automatically logged out when you remotely connect to your computer.
Step 4: Add your user account to remote desktop users
Administrator accounts automatically have access to Remote Desktop. Other accounts must be added manually. Open up the Settings dialog again, and search for “Select users that can remotely access this PC”.
By clicking on “Add” or “Remove”, you can adjust the user accounts that can use Remote Desktop. Enter your user account name, and click “Check Names”. This function checks whether the user account name you enter already exists on the computer (which it must). Correct account names will become underlined. Click “OK”.
Now those user credentials can be used to connect to the computer using Remote Desktop from another device.
Step 5: Connect to your remote computer
On the computer you want to connect from, open Remote Desktop Connection. You can find it by searching for Remote in the Start Menu.
The first page asks for the name of the computer you want to connect to (see step 1). You also need to enter the user account name and password of the computer you’re connecting to. If you want Remote Desktop Connection to store this username and password indefinitely, uncheck “Always ask for credentials”.
Step 6: Use your computer remotely
The remote connection should now be established and, after you’ve been logged in, you will be able to see the remote computer’s desktop. You can use all your applications as normal, but expect a little delay in screen updates.
Remote Desktop Connection adds a simple toolbar to the top of the screen. You can use it to resize the remote desktop session and quit the program when you’ve completed your remote work.
Step 7: Adjust Remote Desktop Connection settings
The Remote Desktop Connection software includes many settings you can adjust. You can see them by clicking on “Show Options” in the user interface.
The “General” tab offers the option to save any local connection settings in an RDP file. This is useful if you want to share connection details with multiple people, as all they need to do is open the RDP file.
The “Display” tab can be used to change the size of the remote desktop window and the color quality. By default, the remote session window will open full screen and be in 32-bit color.
“Local Resources” includes settings about which local hardware devices you’ll be able to access when you’re connected remotely to a computer. You can set audio to play locally or remotely, enable access to your local printers and drives, and set up local screen-recording software.
In the “Experience” tab, you can force Remote Desktop Connection to use a specific connection quality. Setting the quality higher will result in better visuals, such as fonts being smoother, but it will use more bandwidth. Setting the quality lower should lower latency, but, for example, you won’t be able to see the desktop background.
Finally, the “Advanced” tab is where you can set up a Remote Desktop Gateway, a proxy for Remote Desktop that can allow you to access your corporate network across the internet. This does require mitigating security risks in RDP, though.
How to use Microsoft Remote Desktop connection: Summary
Most modern versions of Windows can be remotely connected to using an RDS client. Notable exceptions are Starter and Home versions of Windows, which can’t be connected to.
Remote Desktop Connection, an RDS client, is already installed on most Windows editions. You can use this client to connect remotely to Windows computers without having to install any additional software. Alternatively, you can download the Remote Desktop app from the Microsoft Store. There are also RDS clients for macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS so you can connect to your Windows PC from other types of devices.
You must set a password for Remote Desktop to work. Other options can be set in the Remote Desktop Connection options that affect the remote sessions. You can, for example, set audio to be played on the local computer or the remote computer.
While it’s possible to use Remote Desktop Connection over the internet by making changes to your router settings, you’ll need access to your router’s administration panel (like when you set up a home network for the first time). Remote Desktop has been around for a long time, and the best remote desktop software options eclipse it in simplicity and functionality.
Further reading on remote desktops
If you’re interested in finding out more about remote desktop technology and platforms, we’ve got a wide range of content available for your reference. Learn more about protocols such as RDP, XRDP or VNC and what TeamViewer offers; find out how to use Microsoft Remote Desktop and how to use remote desktop on Windows 10.
If you need walkthroughs for setting up remote access via Microsoft or Apple OSs, see how to use remote desktop on Mac, how to set up Chrome Remote Desktop; and how to remote desktop from Mac to Windows.
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How to Use Remote Desktop (RDP) in Windows 10 Home?
Remote Desktop is not available in Windows 10 Home. Features like group policy editor gpedit.msc and Remote Desktop RDP has been dropped by Microsoft in Windows 10 home since it meant for home use.
Now you can only get these features in Versions Pro and Enterprise of Windows 10. It seems like for their luxury offerings Microsoft prefers to reserve a handful of features always. And that’s why features are less in Windows 10 home edition.
On the other hand, Windows 10 Pro has more options but it is also the more expensive choice. For daily users, the Home version just offers ample features.
There are two reasons you may need a Remote Desktop for:
Enable RDP Feature in Windows Home Edition
- To control and connect Desktop network computers via your computer.
- Over the network, you can control and connect your computer from other computers, in simple words Remotely Access.
It’s not advisable to update to Windows 10 Pro only to use a particular feature especially because on Windows Store too many remote desktop applications are available already.
No-one, though, might rule out the complexity of a Windows native method. When you go to the Windows Settings app – System – Remote Desktop and connect to a remote device, if you use Windows 10 Home Edition the following error message will occur.
On Windows 10 Desktop, Microsoft removed the feature but did not eliminate it completely. As a workaround, without buying an expensive Windows 10 Pro license you can still enjoy the premium feature intended for Windows Premium users in your home edition.
Technically, to make Windows Remote Desktop tool work on your Windows 10 Home PC, you don’t have to be a computer person or geek. Downloading a file and installing it on your Windows 10 Home PC is all the work you have to do.
Below we have mentioned the whole procedure of how you can download and install the Remote Desktop (RDP) in your Windows 10 Home edition.
Step By Step Guide
To be able to remote access your Windows 10 Home computer remotely through the network just simply follow the steps mentioned below.
- The first thing you will need to do is to download the RDP Wrapper Library. For automatic installation the specific filename is RDPWInst-v1.6.2.MSI. For manual installation, you can also download the zip file RDPWrap-v1.6.2.zip.
- Extract the.zip archive to a folder and open the folder. Open install.bat and then update.bat ‘as admin’.
- Now, wait for execution in the command prompt.
- By doing so you will successfully enable the enabled RDP or remote desktop protocol and now you don’t need to buy the pro version since now you can use it on your Windows 10 Home edition as well.
- Run RDPConf.bat from the folder to view/change the configuration parameters of this wrapper, It should look like the same as below.
- By launching RDPCheck.exe you can now do a localhost RDP connection test or you can test RDP access to your machine.
Important Things to Consider
Before you invite someone to remotely connect with your PC there are a few important things you should consider
- Besides the “Enable Remote Desktop” in System Properties add a tick mark. Go to Run – systempropertiesremote to open to these settings directly.
- You must confirm that the Windows firewall allows TCP and UDP port 3389 since the RDP server will use it as the default port.
- You will still be in breach with Microsoft Windows EULA means “End User Licensing Agreement” despite the fact that this method is not illegal. That’s why in commercial settings you should avoid it.
- As a safety precaution only allow remote access of your system to those who are bounded by a contractual or legal obligation and the ones whom you trust.
- If you want you can you can use the same username and password which you use to login to your system, but to make it more secure you can use a different password as well.
The method we have mentioned above is safe and there will be no issues however if you want you can backup your C drive for safety. Also do not skip any of the instructions mentioned above, just follow them as it is to avoid the failure.
We have tried our best to elaborate on everything as simple as we could in the above step by step guide. No matter if you are a beginner or novice in technical terms you will easily be able to Use Remote Desktop (RDP) in Windows 10 Home by following this method.
You should also visit GetPCApps.com to find out more useful guides like this one.
Instantly Available, Versatile and Secure – Windows Remote Desktop Connection
From providing remote support and accessing remote devices to online collaboration – TeamViewer is one of the leading Windows remote desktop tools. The software allows you to quickly and easily remotely control Windows computers, share your desktop screen, and even launch programs. This makes TeamViewer equally suitable for providing managed IT services, mobile working, and coordinating team projects across different locations.
All TeamViewer features are available for Windows. These include the QuickSupport tool for remote desktop, which requires no software installation, and the TeamViewer Host for unattended remote access. What’s more, TeamViewer is not limited to Windows PCs; you can also establish remote desktop connections between Windows, macOS and Linux as well as between mobile devices running Android, iOS and Windows Mobile.
Provide Remote IT Support and Maintenance on Windows PCs with TeamViewer
When providing remote support and maintenance, TeamViewer is the leading remote desktop program for Windows, allowing you to connect to other users’ devices and make changes without setting up a VPN. This is the fastest way to provide or receive IT assistance whenever it’s needed. Device downtime is shortened, travel costs for support staff are reduced, and the duration of support processes is decreased.
Efficient IT support requires specific functions depending on the individual support recipient’s requirements. With TeamViewer’s remote desktop for Windows, you can assemble a tailor-made feature package: from customisable file release procedures when transferring files, to the integration of comprehensive service desks with ticket systems and fast support, without the need for additional software.
Remote Access in Windows 10
Windows remote access with TeamViewer enables location-independent and autonomous working. You can open individual files on your PC, run programs or initiate remote printing. Your desktop PC is always available, so you can react flexibly to enquiries and emergencies no matter where you are.
These are the key advantages of the remote access software for Windows:
- Comprehensive access to files and programs on your Windows PC
- Increased productivity thanks to fast remote connection via the global TeamViewer network
- No setup of a VPN required and therefore no speed losses
- Access your desktop PC from mobile devices running on Android, iOS or Windows Mobile
- Easy and location-independent remote printing
Private users can also download TeamViewer for free and access Windows 10 and macOS via remote desktop.
Windows 10’s Remote Desktop options explained
Ever need to access a computer remotely? It’s easy to do in Windows 10, but Microsoft has provided a few different ways to get there.
One is the old, familiar Terminal Server-based Remote Desktop Connection (RDC), also known as MSTSC for its executable name mstsc.exe. Another is the newer Remote Desktop, a Universal Windows Platform app that Microsoft calls URDC, with package name Microsoft.RemoteDesktop_10.2.1535.0_x648wekyb3d8bbwe. Figure 1 shows these two remote desktop clients side-by-side on a current Windows 10 desktop.
On the left, you see the old application-style Remote Desktop Connection (MSTSC). It’s been unchanged for a more than a decade. The General tab offers controls for quick connections, with other tabs (Display, Local Resources, and so on) for more detailed controls over the remote PC’s appearance, resolution, performance, and so forth. On the right, the newer Remote Desktop app (URDC) presents a sleeker, more modern appearance. It also makes controls and settings more directly available (through the Settings control at the upper right corner of the app window) and shows a thumbnail view for active connections so users can see what’s on a remote desktop.
There’s a third face to Remote Desktop also, but it’s designed to provide access to managed virtual machines (VMs) and virtualized applications via Azure (or equivalent in-house virtualized and managed infrastructures). It’s called the MSRDC Windows Desktop, and it works through a local or Azure-based Active Directory (AD) environment with an associated email-based login, such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those with access to an AD (local or Azure-based) infrastructure, the MSRDC version of remote desktop does everything that the URDC version does, and it provides access to virtualized desktops and applications set for such use. Built atop URDC, MSRDC sports the same, more modern interface.
Note that a Windows 10 Home PC can control another PC remotely, but it cannot be remotely controlled using Microsoft remote desktop software (any variant). This is a known limitation of this cheapest Windows 10 version. Those who want to remote into a specific PC should recognize that the target PC must run Windows 10 Pro, Education, or Enterprise.
You can access the three different forms of Remote Desktop as follows:
- At present, MSTSC (Remote Desktop Connection) is built into Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise. Simply type remote into the Windows search box and select Remote Desktop Connection. Or type exe into the search or Run box (invoked by pressing the Windows key R); typing mstc.exe inside a PowerShell or Command Prompt window works, too.
- The newer Remote Desktop app, a.k.a. URDC, is easily accessed via the Microsoft Store. You must visit the Store, then download and install this version of Remote Desktop before it will run. Then, it too, shows up in response to typing remote into the search box. This essentially provides a UWP replacement for the old MSTSC version of remote access.
- The MSI (MicroSoft Installer) file for the MSRDC version of Remote Desktop may be downloaded from Microsoft’s “Get started with the Windows Desktop client” documentation page. It comes in three flavors for different Windows 10 versions: 64-bit, 32-bit and ARM64. Don’t use MSRDC unless you’re working in an AD-supported environment with virtualization infrastructure. If you do so anyway, you’ll have to launch the URDC version of Remote Desktop through the Microsoft Store thereafter.
There is, by the way, a fourth option for accessing PCs remotely in Windows 10: Quick Assist is a built-in Windows 10 feature that lets a local user and a remote user do things together on the remote user’s system. It’s aimed at tech support workers who want to teach and help remote users. With the three Remote Desktop options discussed in this article, the local user takes over the remote machine, whereas Quick Assist is collaborative and allows local and remote users to work on the remote PC. (See “How to use Windows 10’s Quick Assist app for remote PC support” for more details.)
Three faces of remote desktop access for Windows 10
You might ask: what are the differences among these Remote Desktop versions? Good question! As I write this, not even Microsoft makes much of a distinction between URDC and MSRDC. In fact, the Microsoft documentation “Remote Desktop clients” describes both of them identically. In its introduction it says, “You can control a remote PC by using a Microsoft Remote Desktop client” and, “The client can run on almost any device…” Furthermore, by going through any such client, “you can operate the apps that are installed on the PC, access the files and network resources of the PC, [and] leave the apps open when you end the client.”
Based on long-term personal experience, I can also say that at present, except for access to virtualized resources (VMs, virtualized apps, and more) and the interface differences, there’s little to distinguish MSTSC from URDC either. That applies to various activities one might engage in on a desktop remotely using any of these programs.
Where differences come into play is in what Microsoft calls redirections — that is, the ability to send signals from devices attached to the local PC or network to the target PC, and vice versa. All three versions of Remote Desktop can redirect input from the local desktop to the remote desktop from keyboard, mouse, and touch devices, so you can use those devices on your local PC to control what’s happening on the remote PC. But where MSTSC and MSRDC can use stylus input, URDC cannot.
Similarly, only MSTSC and MSRDC allow a user to plug in a USB or serial device on the local machine and then access it through the remote machine; URDC cannot extend local USB or serial devices to the remote desktop. Figure 2 sums up how the three versions handle redirections for other devices:
Where MSTSC and MSRDC cover redirection for all devices mentioned, URDC covers only the clipboard, microphones, and speakers. That is, URDC does not let the local user access cameras, local drives and storage, location data, printers, scanners, or Smart cards on the remote PC. MSTSC and MSRDC support all of these things. The lack of support for cameras and local drives and storage explains why I still prefer MSTSC to URDC myself (though I do like the URDC interface, look, and feel).
Making Remote Desktop work
No matter which Remote Desktop client you use, the basic steps for making remote connections are similar:
First, enable remote access on the Windows 10 PC you want to control remotely.
- Go to Start Settings System Remote Desktop and turn on Enable Remote Desktop.
- Check the boxes below to keep the PC awake and make it discoverable on private networks, or click Show settings to fine-tune these options.
- Make a note of the PC’s name under “How to connect to this PC.” You’ll need the name to connect to it later.
- Under “User accounts,” click Select users that can remotely access this PC and add accounts as needed.
- Be sure to leave PC turned on and connected to the internet.
When you’re ready to connect to the remote PC, start up the Remote Desktop software on your local PC as outlined earlier in the story, enter the name of the remote computer and your user account, and make the connection. All the Remote Desktop clients let you save remote PC connections for quick access later and offer additional configuration options.
For more detailed instructions and illustrations, please consult these various Microsoft Docs and Community items:
Troubleshooting connection problems
That’s assuming that everything goes well. Over the years I’ve had to troubleshoot lots of connection issues related to Remote Desktop software. Thus, I’ve learned a kind of configuration recipe to apply when remote access difficulties present themselves. I’ll present it as a numbered list of things to try on the target PC — that is, on the PC you’re trying to access remotely.
- Try the Shared Folders, Network Adapter, and Incoming Connections troubleshooters built into Windows 10. To get to them, type troubleshoot in the Windows search box and hit Enter. The Troubleshoot screen in Settings appears. Click Additional troubleshooters, and on the screen that appears, scroll down to the “Find and fix other problems” section. Then try running the three aforementioned troubleshooters.
- On the target PC, select Start Settings Network Internet. Under the “Network status” heading, make sure the local network is designated as Private, as shown in Figure 3. The Remote Desktop Protocol that makes remote desktop clients work is averse to running on public networks. (This can be worked around but is best handled using a VPN over the internet.)
- From the “Network status” screen shown above, scroll down to the “Advanced network settings” section and click Network and Sharing Center. On the left of the screen that appears, click Change advanced sharing settings. On the “Advanced sharing settings” screen, loosen the settings as shown in Figures 4 and 5. Warning: this could compromise network security, so avoid this on publicly accessible LAN segments. It’s OK on private or secured networks.
- Check local firewall settings to make sure the Remote Desktop Protocol and its ports (UDP/TCP 3389, may show up as “Terminal Services Client,” or other custom ports as assigned) are allowed to transmit and receive on the LAN segments to which they’re attached. (To access firewall settings for Windows Defender, type firewall into the search box on the “Network status” page shown in Figure 3, select the Allow an app through Windows Firewall option, and make sure the Remote Desktop item is checked. Consult vendor docs for other firewalls.) Also check to see if the PC is using any kind of third-party firewall or security software. (Defender already knows what to do with RDP.)
- Occasionally, Group Policy related issues may affect Remote Desktop access. This sometimes manifests as a “credentials did not work” error. Should that pop up, please check out “Fix: Your Credentials Did Not Work in Remote Desktop” on Appuals.com.
Potential connection issues aside, Remote Desktop is an extremely handy tool, especially for system administrators. On a small network where I handle half-a-dozen test PCs for various Windows Insider builds and a handful of production machines, it’s absolutely invaluable.
The future of Remote Desktop
In early January, I blogged about Microsoft’s first public disclosure of its upcoming Cloud PC capabilities. This emerging technology will let users on PCs and Smart devices use the remote desktop protocol to access (and run) virtual Windows 10 PCs in the Cloud via Azure.
Based on how URDC and MSTSC work and my understanding of what the MSRDC client can do, my best guess is that when Cloud PC comes to fruition, URDC and MSRDC will become much more important and capable clients than they are right now. At the same time, I think this may spell a limit on the older MSTSC client, if not the end of its useful life.
We should find out later this year when Cloud PC makes its public debut. This may finally give lots of people an impetus to trade in MSTSC for something new and better.