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The phone rings. You pick it up – it’s Aunty Ethel again: “Just nip around again, young Gavin, the computer is doing that thing again…” Cursing, you look to the sky, wondering if there is an easier way to help, other than bumping your poor Aunt off. Heureka! Use a Remote Desktop connection and save the day from your own chair!

Of course, you’ll have to teach Aunty Ethel how to use a Remote Desktop connection How to Use Remote Desktop Connections Like an IT Pro How to Use Remote Desktop Connections Like an IT Pro If you work in the IT department of a company that has an internal network, the odds are pretty good that you've had to make use of Remote Desktop once or twice. Remote Desktop is... Read More , but it’ll be worth it in the long run. Now, prepare yourself for any potential Remote Desktop issues to complete your role as family system admin.

You Cannot Connect to the Remote Computer

This common problem can occur for a number of reasons.

First, check your network settings – are both computers actually connected to the Internet? It’s always the easiest ones that sneak under the radar! If they are, we’ll move on. The Remote Desktop connection requires either an IP address or a name for the console you’re attempting to view.

Remote Desktop IP address

Ensure you have the correct IP address for the computer you are trying to connect to using whatsmyip.com – you’ll have to run it on the other device, or ask someone at the location to do this for you. Similarly, to find out the computer name of the remote device, you’ll need to select Start Menu > Control Panel > System, and view your computer name and workgroup.

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Remote Desktop Computer Name

Remote Connections Not Allowed

Remote connections might not be enabled on the terminal you’re trying to reach. On the same System page as above, we can alter this setting by selecting Change Settings, over on the right. This brings up the System Properties. Select the Remote tab and look at your options.

Remote Desktop Allow

Check “Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer,” if not already selected. Beneath this, you’ll have Remote Desktop options. If the “Don’t allow connections to this computer” option is selected, you’re gonna have a bad time. You now have two options:

  • Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop, and
  • Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication.

If both computers are running an operating system newer than (but also including) Windows 7, you can select option 2. Anything older than Windows 7 will require the first option. The first option can also be used if you’re unsure of the operating system version you’ll be connecting from.

Remote Desktop Allow Connections

Network Level Authentication “an authentication method that completes user authentication before you establish a full Remote Desktop connection and the logon screen appears,” providing an additional layer of security How to Use Remote Access Efficiently, Safely & Securely How to Use Remote Access Efficiently, Safely & Securely Read More from malicious software whilst using fewer resources throughout the lifetime of the connection.

ProTip: You can check if your version of Remote Desktop supports Network Level Authentication by clicking top left of the dialogue box, as seen below, and selecting About.

Remote Desktop About

You Cannot Copy Text from the Remote Computer

You can use the Remote Desktop connection Microsoft Launches Remote Desktop For iOS & Android Microsoft Launches Remote Desktop For iOS & Android Microsoft have released a Remote Desktop app for iOS and Android. This neat little app brings the world of Windows to your tablets and phones, regardless of platform. Read More to copy text from one terminal to your own. If this feature doesn’t work, you’ll need to ensure the Clipboard 5 Tips to Manage Your Windows Clipboard Like a Pro 5 Tips to Manage Your Windows Clipboard Like a Pro Better known as Copy & Paste, a tool for students to lift passages from Wikipedia, the Clipboard can save you loads of typing time. We'll show you how to use it like a pro. Read More has been redirected so you can use it on the remote computer.

Remote Desktop Clipboard

Open the Remote Desktop Connection dialogue box, then select Options. Select the Local devices and resources tab. You should see options for the Clipboard and Printers – ensure the Clipboard option is selected. It should be turned on by default.

You’re good to go!

The Remote Window Isn’t the Correct Size

Many Remote Desktop users encounter issues with the size of the Remote Desktop viewing window. It either resizes too large, too small, or doesn’t correlate to the settings you’ve input.

Remote Desktop Run

You can force Remote Desktop to use a pre-selected size using the Run function. Instead of opening Remote Desktop via the Start menu, select Run [press Windows key + R]. Open

mstsc.exe /h:X /w:X

Where “X” is the required size for height and width of the remote viewing window. Remote Desktop should remember your settings for future remote viewing sessions.

Remote Desktop Display

Remote Desktop features a handy sliding bar scrolling from 640×480 up to your full screen setting. Adjusting the slider modifies your remote desktop accordingly. As Remote Desktop remembers the resolution of the connection, make sure to readjust the slider to full screen to ensure your next connection functions to the correct resolution.

Save Custom Connection Settings

If you regularly connect to a number of different servers, you could save time by setting a custom configuration for Remote Desktop. You can set optimum width, height, and colour settings for each server/terminal you connect with.

Open Remote Desktop, and expand the options. You’ll see dialogue boxes for Connection Settings. Select Save As and specify your preferred save location. Then click Save. This creates a custom desktop connection file (.RPD).

Remote Desktop Save AS

Browse to the location you saved the .RDP file. We can now edit this file using a text editor. I use Notepad++ (our Notepad++ review Soup Up The Notepad++ Text Editor With Plugins From The Notepad Plus Repository [Windows] Soup Up The Notepad++ Text Editor With Plugins From The Notepad Plus Repository [Windows] Notepad++ is a worthy replacement for Windows’ in-built and much loved text editor, and comes highly recommended if you’re a programmer, web designer or simply someone who finds themselves in need of a powerful plain... Read More ), but you can use whatever you are comfortable with. You’ll need to add this string to the end of the file:

smart sizing:i:1

Now to check the screen settings on lines two and three. Edit the desktopwidth and desktopheight to the optimum size for your requirements. Save the file. You can now open Remote Desktop via this file, or it can be selected within the Remote Desktop dialogue box. I would recommend the former.

Remote Desktop ScreenSize

Some Handy Shortcuts

“The keyboard shortcut maketh the remote desktop user.” – Abraham Lincoln

Boost your productivity with a handful of keyboard shortcuts Windows Shortcuts 101 - The Ultimate Keyboard Shortcut Guide Windows Shortcuts 101 - The Ultimate Keyboard Shortcut Guide With so many shortcuts built into Windows and its software, it might seem impossible to learn them all. Here's the ultimate guide to the most useful keyboard shortcuts. Read More . These are designed for use when accessing Remote Desktop via Run:

  • mstsc /f: Start Remote Desktop in Full-Screen Mode.
  • mstsc /admin: Start Remote Desktop in Admin Mode.
  • mstsc /span: Matches your Remote Desktop session with the local virtual desktop.
  • mstsc /multimon: Matches your Remote Desktop session to the Client Layout.
  • mstsc /edit “connection file”: Opens the .RDP file for editing – change “connection file” to your file name before running the command.

Remote Desktop Lincoln

There are also a number of handy shortcuts to use once your Remote Desktop connection is live:

  • CTRL+ALT+PAUSE: Switches your Remote Desktop client between full-screen and windowed mode.
  • CTRL+ALT+BREAK: Force the Remote Desktop into full-screen mode.
  • CTRL+ALT+MINUS: Takes a screenshot of the active Remote Desktop window.
  • CTRL+ALT+PLUS: Takes a screenshot of the entire Remote Desktop.
  • CTRL+ALT+END: Reboots the remote computer.

You should now be able to connect to dear Aunty Ethel’s computer from the comfort of your own home, saving yourself time, whilst probably lining you up for another smashing Christmas jumper.

What are your Remote Desktop frustrations? Do you have any awesome uses for a Remote Desktop? Let us know below!

  1. Geoff Johnson
    July 7, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    When I remote to our server the bar at the top of the screen giving the IP address of the remote machine and the minimise maximise buttons are 1/4 of the width of the screen. When one of my colleagues does it, the bar is 2/3 the width of his screen. We have identical computers and monitors running Win7 Pro. The problem is that we ahve to RDP to another RDP machine on a customers network. The huge bar makes it difficult to do things on the second RDP machine. Obviously the width of that bar can be adjusted, but how do you do it?

  2. সাইদুর রহমান
    June 30, 2016 at 3:52 am

    Hi,

    Thank you so much for your post. I'm using windows 10. Here I have a trouble in Windows 10. When I can try to connect a PC then I need to change the credential. But, that time it's show a error massage and it's not working. If you had a solution please let me know.

    Thanks in advance

  3. chris
    June 15, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    Resolution settings is the best tech tip I've read in ages!

    oversized rdp desktop resolution has been driving me NUTS!!!

  4. Will
    May 20, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    Hey, I could use a little help.

    I am using RDP with my mac air, 13 inch monitor, it works great.
    A coworker has a smaller version, maybe a ten inch, when they open RDP and it connects the screen gets larger and larger on its own until it closes out. Any ideas? I removed all the resolution settings except for one and it did not help. I do not have the same access to change options in the mac app versus when using it on a PC. any ideas?

  5. Ryan
    March 17, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Hi there!

    Thanks for all the great tips.

    I am having an issue with the resolution of of my remote login. The native resolution of my laptop is 3200x1800. When I log in remotely this makes the icons and such TINY on my screen. I do not know what the resolution of the remote computer is, but when I attempt to alter it, I get a message that I can't change the display remotely. I tried using the adjustment to the resolution listed above, but this simply made the remote session window smaller on my laptop screen (I'd like it to be fullscreen)

    Any ideas?

    Thanks so much for the help!

    • naveen
      April 11, 2016 at 11:26 am

      Same problem on terminal server remote..
      Have you sorted it out?

  6. Tomko
    January 15, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    The computer I'm remoting into shows a login screen. I want the screen to remain normal because it's also a flat screen display at a zoo. No one wants to look at a login screen at a zoo.

  7. Zac
    January 11, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    I have a unique situation.
    In our work environment, many of our customer service reps connect to a Windows 2008 R2 server, where they do most of their work throughout the day. Some users have desktops or laptops, and some have Thin Clients. They all use 2 monitors.

    The Thin client users stretch the RDP session across both monitors. The desktop users do not, because they can access necessary resources on their desktop on 1 screen, and then use the resources on the server on the other screen. Therefore the desktop users RDP/server session is only on 1 display.

    When I try to remote control users with Desktops, it works fine. But when I try to remote control Thin Client users with 2 monitors, it fails every time. I am aware of the option to stretch the RDP session across all displays, but it still does not work. I run 3 monitors, but I have tried this with other admins with only 2 monitors, and even if they set their session to stretch across all displays, it still fails when we try to remote control the Thin Client users.

    i know the problem lies with the display, but I don't know how to fix it!

    • GOpi
      April 21, 2016 at 4:26 am

      I have this exact problem. RDP flickers when I open it with two monitors..
      no solution yet.

  8. Engine44
    January 6, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Yesterday I set up a Google Remote Desktop connection. I am viewing my PC remotely on my Macbook. Everything seems to be working except scrolling. I can use use the vertical scroll bar but not the trackpad. Has anyone else encountered this. Thanks.

  9. Lisa
    January 5, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Thank goodness that I stumbled upon this blog because I'm having some major issues with Remote Desktop. I purchased a Surface Pro Book and it's a great machine but whenever I connect remotely to anything....be it Geek Squad or Quickbooks....my font is so tiny that I can barely see it. I have no idea how to correct this and no one that I've talked to seems to know either. It's just when I remote connect that the font is small.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

    • Jeff
      April 26, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Hi, Lisa

      I got the same problem with you. Have you found the solution to fix this finally ?

      Thanks,
      Jeff

  10. brian
    January 4, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    the bottom portion of where it shows Remote desktop , and you have option to check, i upgraded my laptop from windows 8.1 to windows 10 and the bottom portion is not there.

  11. Rahul Kumar Sevakula
    October 10, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    Thank you very much. It was indeed a useful and resourceful article.

  12. DonGateley
    April 9, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    You're probably tired of hearing this from me but here is yet another incredibly useful article from my favorite site for such matters!

    • Gavin
      April 10, 2015 at 8:54 am

      Never, Don, we always look forward to your comments! Glad we can consistently help out in some way - that's what we aim to do.

      Thanks for your support, and thanks for your feedback.

  13. likefunbutnot
    April 8, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    A couple more things to add to this:
    If you have remote admin privileges but RDP is not enabled on the box you need, you can turn it on via regedit or Powershell.

    Terminals is a better RDP/VNC client for people who use a lot of remote desktop sessions. It has a tabbed interface like a web browser and an address book for quick connections. I spend a lot of time in remote sessions and I'd be lost without it.

    Teamviewer is less efficient than a straight-up RDP session, but for a mobile user just looking for a way to jump on to their home desktop, or for someone who doesn't want to mess with any of this stuff, it's a straightforward option since it's more or less entirely based on having a Teamviewer login.

    Hamachi, now owned by the nice people at LogMeIn, is great as a VPN for remote desktop access, although non-paying users might find the limits of its service restrictive. It's a good option for non-technical people or teams distributed across multiple organizations to connect if they need to.

    • Gavin
      April 10, 2015 at 8:51 am

      I haven't used Hamachi for a long time, but was an excellent choice for creating a VPN for "LAN" gaming some while back. Have since switched to one of your other suggestions: TeamViewer.

      Thanks for reading!

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