How to control a remote computer using Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection

Learn how to access and work with a remote PC using the Remote Desktop Connection tool in Windows.

As more people are working from home due to the coronavirus, there is a greater need for tools that can help them do their jobs. One such tool is Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection (RDC). Built into all versions of Windows and available for other platforms, including macOS, iOS/iPadOS, and Android, RDC lets you connect to and work with a remote Windows workstation or server. Learn how to control a remote computer using Microsoft’s RDC by following the steps in this tutorial.

The first step is to enable Remote Desktop on the computer you need to access. Then, you’ll need to set up the connection from your own computer so you can access and control the remote machine, which we’ll cover here.

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Launching the Remote Desktop Connection differs slightly based on your version of Windows. In Windows 10, click the Start button, scroll down the list of apps, open the folder for Windows Accessories, and click the shortcut for Remote Desktop Connection.

In Windows 8.1, press the Win key+S to launch the Search tool. In the search field, type windows remote desktop, and click the result. In Windows 7, click the Start button, open the Accessories folder, and select the shortcut for Remote Desktop Connection.

At the Remote Desktop Connection window, enter the computer name or IP address for the remote machine you want to access. Type your username in the appropriate field, and click the Connect button (Figure A).

Figure A

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A window pops up asking if you trust this remote connection. Check the box that reads Don’t Ask Me Again For Connections To This Computer, and click Connect (Figure B).

Figure B

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At the Enter Your Credentials window, type your password in the appropriate field. Check the box to Remember Me if you don’t want to enter your password each time you make the connection. If you’re concerned about security, leave this box unchecked. Click OK (Figure C).

Figure C

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The next window tells you that the identity of the remote computer cannot be verified. This message appears because the computer to which you’re connecting is likely using a self-signed security certificate that by default is untrusted by other computers. You can still safely connect despite this message. To avoid this in the future, check the box that reads Don’t Ask Me Again For Connections To This Computer, and click Yes (Figure D).

Figure D

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You should now be connected to the remote computer with a connection bar at the top that appears when your remote session is in full screen. This bar offers a few options that you might use. Normally, the bar disappears after a few seconds, but clicking the Pin icon pins it so it’s always visible.

The Connection Info icon reports on the quality of your connection. The Minimize icon minimizes your remote session to the Taskbar so it’s out of the way when you don’t need it. The Restore Down icon switches your session from full screen to a smaller, adjustable screen. When you’re done, click the X icon to disconnect the session (Figure E).

Figure E

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Image: James Sanders/TechRepublic

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