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How To Use Microsoft Remote Desktop: Definitive Guide

Olga Weis Olga Weis Aug 10, 2021

If you need to obtain access to a remotely located computer, an excellent solution is Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection (RDC). If the remote machine is running and accepting remote connections, you can easily create a Remote Desktop connection. After the connection is established you can use all the functionality of the remote machine to view files, run programs, diagnose problems, or connect USB for remote desktop. This article discusses how to use the Remote Desktop Connection Manager to create and manage sessions.

Multiple computers connected to the same network can be accessed via RDC. It can be used to reach remote machines in your home or office. Businesses make use of Remote Desktop Connection and a virtual private network (VPN) to enable employees to securely connect to computers when working from home.

How to Set Up Remote Desktop Connections

If you are using a local area network (LAN), starting a remote connection requires that the computer you want to access remotely is configured to permit Remote Desktop connections. You can use Control Panel to set up Remote Desktop for Windows with the following steps.

Allow remote desktop connections via Control Panel

Start Control Panel.
Select System and Security.
 system and security control panel
Click the “Allow remote access option” in the System section.
 allow remote access control panel
Click the Remote tab.
In the Remote Desktop category of the window, check the option “Allow remote connections to this computer”.
 allow remote connections to this computer
Make sure to check the “Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication” option for more secure connectivity.
Click on the OK > Apply > OK buttons.

After completing this procedure, the computer will accept Remote Desktop connections. If you are using Microsoft Defender as your firewall, the operating system will add the necessary rules for Remote Desktop sessions. Third-party firewalls will require you to manually configure the rules.

Enable remote desktop on Windows 10

An alternate method of enabling Remote Desktop connectivity involves using the Windows 10 Settings app.

  1. Open Settings.

  2. Click on System.

  3. Click on Remote Desktop.

  4. Toggle on the Enable Remote Desktop switch. enable remote desktop
  5. Click Confirm.

How to Create a Remote Desktop Connection

Once you have enabled Remote Desktop, you can use your local machine to connect with the Remote Desktop connection.

  1. Start the Remote Desktop Connection tool. On Windows systems, use the Win key+S combination to open the Search tool. Search for “Remote Desktop Connection” and click on the result. open remote desktop connection
  2. In the Remote Desktop Connection window, enter the remote computer’s network name or its IP address in the Computer field. Click on the Show Options button, where you will enter the username of the account that will be used to establish the connection. If you plan on using this connection regularly, you can save login credentials by checking the box next to the "Allow me to save credentials” option. When finished, click the Connect button. create remote desktop connection
  3. The next step is to enter the account password in the credentials window. You can check the “Remember Me” option to save the password for subsequent sessions. Click OK. There is a chance you will get a message telling you the identity of the remote computer cannot be verified. In this case, check the box for "Don't ask me again for connections to this computer”. Click Yes when done. remote computer not verified remote desktop
  4. You can now connect to the remote machine and perform a variety of tasks like running applications and accessing files. You are presented with multiple options in the blue connection bar located at the top of the screen. remote desktop top bar
  5. On the left side of the bar, buttons let you verify the connection speed and pin the bar. Buttons on the right enable you to modify the size of the window, minimize it to the taskbar, and end the remote session. When you are finished with your work, you can click the Close icon to terminate the connection.

Remote Desktop Connection settings overview

You can change Remote Desktop settings from the tool’s setup screen. The following settings can be modified to suit your requirements.

  • General tab: The setting for your remote session can be saved to an RDP file which can be copied for use on other computers. rdc general tab
  • Display tab: Here you can change the color and size of the remote window rdc display tab
  • Local Resources tab: This option lets you select the local resources to be used during the session. You can also choose Windows keystroke combinations and configure the setting for remote audio operation. rdc local resources tab
  • Experience tab: This option enables control of the connection speed to affect performance and the user experience. rdc experience tab
  • Advanced tab: With this option, you can set the defaults for server authentication. rdc advanced tab

How to use the Remote Desktop App for Windows 10

There is an alternative method that lets you connect to another computer using a Remote Desktop connection on Windows 10 systems. In addition to the Remote Desktop Connection tool, Windows 10 users can connect via the Microsoft Remote Desktop app using the following procedure:

  1. Open Microsoft Store.

  2. Open the Microsoft Remote Desktop app page.

  3. Click the Get/Install button.

install microsoft remote desktop

After completing these steps, you can start the app using the Start menu or from within the Microsoft Store. You also have the option of downloading the app’s preview to learn about any new features or enhancements.

Connect to PCs with Microsoft Remote Desktop app

Here’s how to connect Remote Desktop sessions with the app using the following steps:

  1. Open the Remote Desktop app.

  2. Click the + Add button in the top right.

  3. Click the PCs option.

    remote desktop add pc
  4. Enter the IP address of the computer you want to connect to in the PC name section, taking the following points into account.

    • • Use the local IP address for computers that are connected to a private network.

    • • Enter the machine’s public IP address if you are accessing a remote network over the Internet.
    remote desktop configure pc
  5. Click the + (plus) button in the top-right of the User account section.

  6. Verify that you are using the correct account information to sign in to the remote computer:
    • • If the remote computer uses a local account, enter the username and password to allow you to sign in.

    • • When the remote computer is using a Microsoft account, you need to use that account’s sign-in information.
    remote desktop add account
  7. (Optional) If you wish, you can designate a display name for the account settings by entering it in the Display name input box.

  8. Click the Save button.

  9. In the Display name section, enter the connection’s nickname if it has one.

  10. Click the Show more option. remote desktop show more
  11. (Optional) Select additional settings if needed. The available settings provide options to set the resolution of the remote session, connect via an admin session, and other configuration changes that are rarely required. Only use these options if your situation requires them.

  12. Click the Save button.

  13. In the Saved Desktops section, start a remote session by clicking the connection. create remote desktop connection
  14. Check the “Don't ask about this certificate again” option if applicable to your connection.

  15. Click the Connect button.

When these steps are completed and you have configured everything properly, you can connect to the remote Windows 10 computer.

Ending the session can be done by simply closing the window. You can also choose the three-dotted menu button in the top-middle of the windows and click the Disconnect button.

Configure Remote Desktop app settings in Windows 10

You can customize some settings by using the Remote Desktop app to tailor the user experience to your liking.

Change general settings

The settings page of the Remote Desktop lets users modify configuration options, make changes, or correct mistakes in account information. Use the following steps to change the general settings.

  1. Open the Remote Desktop app.

  2. Click the Settings button in the top-right.

  3. Choose a user account from the displayed list.

  4. Click the Edit (pen) button to modify the various settings. change remote desktop settings
  5. Click the Save button when you are done with your changes.
remote desktop edit account

These settings enable you to provision user accounts with the plus + button. The newly created accounts can be used in the future to establish connections with remote devices.

The rarely used Gateway option lets you set a gateway server if necessary. Another available option that you may never have the opportunity to use is the Group option, used to save related connections into groups.

Change connection settings

Remote connection settings can be changed with the following procedure:

  1. Open the Remote Desktop app.

  2. Click the three-dotted menu button on the saved desktop and choose Edit. remote desktop edit connection
  3. Modify the computer’s name, user account, and display name as necessary. remote desktop edit pc settings
  4. Click the menu button and select Remove to delete the connection.

  5. Click the three-dotted menu button and choose Pin to Start to display a link to the connection in the Windows Start menu.

After completing the steps, settings are automatically applied and saved.

Change session settings

These steps allow you to change the Remote Desktop’s session settings:

  1. Open the Remote Desktop app.

  2. Click the Settings button in the top-right. remote desktop change session settings
  3. Toggle the switch on or off to choose whether to “Start connections in full screen” mode.

  4. Toggle the “Start each connection in a new window” switch to select how new connections open.

  5. The “When resizing the app” lets users choose how a session will look when the Remote Desktop app is resized. The options are:

    • • Stretch the content while preserving the aspect ratio which is the recommended setting.
    • • Stretch the content.
    • • Show scroll bar.
  6. The "Use keyboard command with a" drop-down menu allows users to choose if keyboard shortcuts will work in Remote Desktop sessions or only locally. The following choices are available:

    • • My local PC only.
    • • My remote session when it's in full screen. This is the recommended setting.
    • • My remote session when it's in use.
  7. An optional setting provides a toggle switch to “Prevent the screen from timing out”.

A preview of a Remote Desktop session can be displayed which can facilitate locating a specific connection.

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