8 Tips for Fixing Remote Desktop Connection and Screen Issues
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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.” Cursing, you look to the sky, wondering if there is an easier way to help. Other than bumping your poor Aunt off. Eureka! You can use a remote desktop connection to fix the computer from the comfort of your own chair.

Remote desktop connections don’t always work how you want. Here are several tips on fixing remote desktop issues so you can continue your role as the family system admin, no matter where you are.

1. You Can’t Connect to the Remote Computer

The inability to connect to the remote computer is a common problem.

First, check your network settings. Do both computers have a network connection? It is always the easiest connection issues that sneak under the radar! If both computers have a network connection, you can move on. The Windows Remote Desktop Connection requires either an IP address or a name for the console you are acttempting to view.

remote desktop connection user name

Make sure you have the correct IP address for the remote computer. On the remote computer, you can browse to whatismyip and copy down the address. If you are not with the remote computer, you must ask someone at the location to do this for you, then send you the IP address.

Similarly, to find out the computer name of the remote device, head to Start Menu > Control Panel > System, and view the computer name and workgroup.

2. Remote Connections Not Allowed

You might find that remote connections are disabled on the terminal you are trying to reach. You can alter this setting on the same System page as above. To the right of the computer name and workgroup, select Change Settings to open the System Properties menu. Select the Remote tab.

remote desktop connection properties allow connection

Windows 10 offers the same Remote Desktop Connection options as older Windows versions. Under Remote Desktop, there are two options:

  • Allow remote connections to this computer
  • Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication (recommended)

Once you allow remote connections, you also have the option of only accepting remote connections using Network Level Authentication. Network Level Authentication is “an authentication method that completes user authentication before you establish a full Remote Desktop connection and the logon screen appears.”

It provides an additional layer of security from malicious software and users while using fewer resources in the process.

However, if you struggle to create a remote desktop connection after switching Network Level Authentication on, try turning it off.

You can check if your version of Remote Desktop supports Network Level Authentication by clicking the top-left of the dialog box, as seen below, and select About.

This remote desktop connection screen shows its version

3. Remote Desktop Connection for Windows 10 Home Using RDP Wrapper Library

Windows 10 Home users struggle with Remote Desktop. Why? Because Windows 10 Home doesn’t support incoming connections. At least, not natively. Windows 10 Home users can make an outgoing Remote Desktop connection to a different computer (not running Windows 10 Home!), but not vice versa. Thankfully, there’s a simple, software-based fix that works around the issue: the RDP Wrapper Library.

(Alternatively, check out the 7 best screen sharing and remote desktop tools The 7 Best Screen Sharing and Remote Access Software The 7 Best Screen Sharing and Remote Access Software Sharing your Windows screen has many benefits. Use these free tools to share screens or gain remote access to another computer. Read More !)

The RDP Wrapper Library uses the existing Windows Terminal Service and adds new Windows Firewall rules to allow a remote desktop connection. The RDP Wrapper Library also provides an interface to manage remote desktop connections through (as Windows 10 Home doesn’t have an integrated solution.

Here’s how you allow remote desktop connections on Windows 10 Home using RDP Wrapper Library:

  1. Head to the RDP Wrapper Library GitHub Releases page.
  2. Download the RDPWInst.zip file. After downloading, right-click the file and extract the archive to a new folder. For instance, using 7-Zip, I would select 7-Zip > Extract to RDPWrap-v1.6.2.
  3. Open the new folder, then run bat.
  4. After installation, run bat.
  5. Now, run exe to make sure the process is working.
  6. You can use exe to manage advanced configuration settings.

Confused? Check out the following video. It will guide you through the tricky bits of the installation, as well as how to set up your Windows 10 Home RDP Wrapper Library remote connection.

4. You Can’t Copy Text From the Remote Computer

You can use Remote Desktop Connection to copy text from one terminal to your own. If the copy text feature isn’t working, you need to enable the Clipboard redirect function so you can use it on the remote computer.

Open the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box by typing “remote” in your Start menu search bar, then selecting the best match. Select Show Options. Head to the Local Resources tab. Under Local devices and resources, put a check in the Clipboard box. The option should be turned on by default.

5. The Remote Window Isn’t the Correct Size

Incorrect window size is another common Remote Desktop Connection issue. When you create the remote desktop connection, the window is too large, too small, or doesn’t correlate to the settings you input.

You have two potential fixes here.

First, you can force the Remote Desktop connection to use a specific size via the Run function. Hit Windows key + R, then input:

mstsc.exe /h:X /w:X

Where “X” is the height and width of the Remote Desktop viewing window you desire. Remote Desktop will remember your settings for future remote viewing settings.

The Remote Desktop Connection client has a handy screen resolution slider that scrolls from 640×480 up to Full Screen for your screen. Make sure to set the slider to Full Screen if you want a full-screen remote connection for each connection.

remote desktop connection menu shows how to adjust screen size

6. Delete Your Credentials to Reset Remote Desktop Connection Login

At times, Windows Remote Desktop Connection finds your login details confusing. There is also the chance the login details for your system or the remote system are different from your last remote connection. You can remove and replace your existing credentials to try and fix the issue.

In the Remote Desktop Connection client, head to the Advanced tab. Select Settings, then make sure Automatically detect RD Gateway server settings is selected.

7. How to Save Your Remote Desktop Connection Custom Settings

If you regularly connect to several different servers or clients, saving a custom configuration for each Remote Desktop will save time in the future. You can set the optimum width, height, and color settings for each server or terminal.

Open the Remote Desktop Connection dialog, then select Show Options. You will now see the Connection settings options. Select Save As, specify your save location, then select Save to create a custom Remote Desktop Connection file (.RDP).

Now, browse to the Remote Desktop Connection configuration file. You can edit the configuration file using a text editor, such as Notepad or Notepad++. Right-click the configuration file and select Open with…, then select your text editor.

remote desktop connection menu shows custom configuration notepad++

The first four lines show your remote connection screen size options (plus whether multi-monitor mode is available). You can edit the screen mode to set whether the remote window session appears full screen. For instance, “id:i:2” sets full screen, whereas “id:i:1” sets the remote connection to appear in a window.

If you set the screen mode to “2” for full screen, the desktopwidth and desktopheight automatically match the screen size of the host client. However, if you are using screen mode “1,” you can use the desktopwidth and desktopheight settings to set a specific window size.

After you confirm your settings, add the following string to the end of the file:

smart sizing:i:1

Smart sizing allows you to dynamically alter your screen settings without messing around with configuration files while the Remote Desktop connection is active. However, you must add the string for each custom configuration you create.

If you want to customize your remote desktop configuration file further, check out Donkz Remote Desktop file setting overview. And be sure to create these useful custom connection configurations 8 Windows Remote Desktop Connection Custom Configurations to Save You Time 8 Windows Remote Desktop Connection Custom Configurations to Save You Time Using Windows Remote Desktop Connection? Create custom remote desktop connection configurations to save a lot of time. Read More beforehand.

8. Handy Remote Desktop Connection Shortcuts

You can boost your Remote Desktop Connection productivity using a handful of keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts are designed to work when you access Remote Desktop using the Run dialog.

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

You can use the following Remote Desktop shortcuts once your Remote Desktop connection is live:

  • Switches your Remote Desktop client between full-screen and windowed mode: Ctrl + Alt + Pause
  • Force the Remote Desktop into full-screen mode: Ctrl + Alt + Break
  • Takes a screenshot of the active Remote Desktop window: Ctrl + Alt + Minus
  • Takes a screenshot of the entire Remote Desktop: Ctrl + Alt + Plus
  • Reboots the remote computer: Ctrl + Alt + End

Resolving Remote Desktop Connection Issues for Windows 10

You can now connect to dear Aunty Ethel’s computer from the comfort of your own home. You are saving yourself time and effort, while hopefully lining you up for another sensational hand-knitted jumper.

Of course, remote connections are not always from a Windows computer to another Windows computer. Here is how you establish remote desktop access to Ubuntu from Windows, and here’s how to access Windows directly from your Mac Microsoft Remote Desktop: How to Access Windows From Your Mac Microsoft Remote Desktop: How to Access Windows From Your Mac Microsoft's free Remote Desktop tool lets you access Windows from your Mac. Here's how to set up Remote Desktop on a Mac. Read More .

Explore more about: Remote Access, Remote Desktop, Troubleshooting.

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  1. Michael M
    April 29, 2019 at 6:36 pm

    "The only time when updates won’t auto-download is when the device is on a metered connection."-

    Well somthng went wrong cuz 3 Mb/s no matter what. Even disabled "win10 updates " in services.msc console

  2. bizanator
    December 11, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    CTL+ALT+HOME Sends commands back to your home machines, helpful if you're fullscreen and use multiple desktops so you can press CTL+WIN+LEFT (RIGHT) to swap desktop work environment.

  3. Viking
    October 10, 2018 at 8:31 am

    "Remote" usually means over the internet and RDP connection will never work unless you also explain readers how to open their router for this type of traffic. Security quickly becomes a major concern.

  4. Naga
    September 6, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    "The Remote Window Isn’t the Correct Size"- Really worked for me . thanks a lot.!

  5. Will C
    June 9, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Hi,

    I use remote desktop to access some hosted software, but the majority of my work is done on my local computer. This means that I spend my days using multiple monitors and constantly switching between the Remote Desktop (full screen on one monitor) and my laptop (using one or both monitors as necessary).

    I've just got a new laptop and switched from Windows 8 to Windows 10. Now it seems that, when I have the Remote Desktop full screen, it is always on top - I can't drag a (local) window from one monitor to the other without first minimising the rdp, as the local window always* sits behind the rdp window. This is incredibly frustrating when I'm trying to work on multiple files!

    (*I say always, but it's not quite that simple - when I first open the rdp, I can put other windows on top of it. However, if I minimise the rdp then maximise again, it switches to be always on top.)

    Any help would be much appreciated!

  6. Adrian
    January 13, 2017 at 12:03 am

    Hi,
    Sorry to bother you but I did something terrible and now every time I login to my remote desktop, the magnifier is opened and it takes me about two minutes just to move the mouse slowly enough to turn it off. It is driving me nuts and I have no idea how I managed to force the magnifier to turn on every time I log into the remote desktop. In this remote environment I do not have admin privileges so I can hardly do anything.

  7. 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?

  8. Anonymous
    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

  9. 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!!!

  10. 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?

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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

    • Adrian
      January 13, 2017 at 12:08 am

      Lisa,

      I downloaded mRemoteNG. I too have a newer computer with high resolution screen and my icons were tiny. I had to tinker with this piece of software to figure out how to log in. It works great, except that I can't print to my home printer when I am logged onto the RDP but I can see the icons at a reasonable size.

  16. 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.

  17. Anonymous
    October 10, 2015 at 4:45 pm

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

  18. 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.

  19. 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!