Connecting Remotely to a Windows Desktop from Windows 7

If you are running a Windows-based computer, you can connect to another computer using Remote Desktop Connection. A few days ago we’ve shown how to enable Remote Desktop Connections in Windows 7. This tutorial will show how to connect from Windows 7 to a Windows-based computer that has Remote Desktop Connections enabled.

NOTE: Before actually applying this tutorial, make sure you have enabled the Remote Desktop Connection on the Windows computer to which you will be connecting. To learn how to do this in Windows 7, check out How to Enable Remote Desktop Connections in Windows 7 & Windows 8.

Configuring Remote Desktop Connection

Launch the Remote Desktop Connection client by clicking Start and navigating to Accessories, where you’ll find the Remote Desktop Connection icon.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

When Remote Desktop Connection launches, you’ll be able to type in the computer name of the Remote Desktop Connection host and connect right away. But you might want to adjust some settings first. Expand the preferences by clicking Options.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

The General tab allows you to enter the computer name and the user name. The computer name is how the host computer identifies itself on the network. If you’re not sure what the computer name is, you can see it in System Properties on the remote computer. Also, if you have trouble connecting using a computer name, you can also connect using the host’s local IP address.

Under user name, enter the user name for an administrator account on the remote machine, or a standard user account that has been enabled for Remote Desktop connections. In other words, use a user name that you would enter if you were logging in locally to the host machine.

NOTE: In this screenshot, you’ll see the user name formatted as computername\username. You don’t have to type it in like this, but when Remote Desktop Connection saves your connection settings, it will reformat it like this.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

In the Display tab you can tweak some of the video settings. By changing the screen size and color depth, you can improve the performance when connected remotely.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

In the Local Resources tab, you can configure your audio, keyboard and devices settings.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

If you click Settings under Remote Audio, you can choose whether you want to playback audio on the remote machine, on the client machine or neither. You can also enable recording from the client machine.

In the Keyboard section, you have three options for handling Windows key combinations (such as ALT + TAB and CTRL + ALT + DEL). By default, these key combinations will be registered by the remote computer when you are in full screen, but if you’re in Window mode, they’ll be recognized by your computer (the client). For example, if you are in full screen and you press ALT + TAB, you’ll switch between windows on the remote machine. If you’re in Window mode, you’ll ALT + TAB between windows on your computer. You can change this so that Windows key combinations are only recognized by the client machine or the host machine.

Lastly, you can choose the settings for the ’Local devices and resources’. By default, you can share clipboards between machines (i.e. copy from the host and paste to the client) and print a document from the host machine on a printer connected to the client machine.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

You may also want to share other devices and resources, such as hard drives. Click More to see more options. If you check Ports, you’ll be able to select which drives and volumes you want to share with the host machine. These show up under tsclient on the host machine, in the Network section of your Windows Explorer.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

The Programs tab allows you to run a specific program when you connect to the remote machine. This allows you to run single programs on the remote computer without having to navigate through Windows Explorer. To enable this feature, check the ’Start the following program on connection’ box and enter the program path and file name. If you want to set a working folder, type it in in the second box.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

The Experience tab lets you further tweak your settings for better performance. For example, it makes sense to disable the desktop background, menu and window animations since these aren’t essential for most tasks you’ll be performing remotely. You can also disable font smoothing to make text a little bit more readable, especially when the screen is resized. You can have Remote Desktop Connection choose the best settings for you based on your connection speed from the drop-down menu.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

The Advanced tab gives you additional options. You can change how Server authentication behaves. Normally, Remote Desktop Connection will check to make sure that the server name on the certificate matches the computer name you entered to initiate the connection. If they don’t match, you’ll be warned before connecting. You can choose to ’Connect and don’t warn me’ if you want to skip this message. This may be useful if you are using the IP address to connect to the remote machine, since the authentication will always fail if you do so, since the remote computer won’t identify itself on the server by its IP address (it will use its computer name instead). Or, you can choose ’Do not connect’ if the server authentication fails, which will cancel the connection without warning you if the server name doesn’t match.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

Lastly, you can also set up your Remote Desktop Gateway settings by clicking the Settings button under ’Connect from anywhere’. Remote Desktop Gateways are used for connecting into corporate networks or Virtual Private Networks (VPN) from outside the network. For example, if you were at home and you wanted to connect to your desktop at the office via Remote Desktop Connection, you may need to use a Remote Desktop Gateway. Check with your network administrator to find out how to configure these settings.

Connecting to a Computer from Remote Desktop Connection

Once you’ve chosen all of the settings you want, you can save your settings in the General tab and click Connect.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

When you connect, Remote Desktop Connection will give you a series of warnings. The first one asks you if you trust the computer you’re connecting to. Dismiss this message by clicking Connect.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

Next, you’ll be asked to enter your password. Use the password you would use to log in locally.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

If you used an IP address to connect, you’ll see a warning about the server name on the certificate not matching the computer name you entered. This may happen if you didn’t use the exact same capitalization when entering the computer name. As long as the certificate name displayed is something you recognize, it’s safe to click Yes and continue.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

After connecting, you’ll see the remote machine in a window of its own. To give the remote machine keyboard and mouse focus, click inside the window or make it full screen. To close the connection, simply close the window.

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

The next time you connect, you can save yourself the time of opening Remote Desktop Connection by right-clicking the computer you want to connect to in the Network pane in Windows Explorer and choosing ’Connect with Remote Desktop Connection.’

Windows Remote Desktop Connection

Conclusion

Using Remote Desktop Connection, you can access applications and devices on a remote computer by logging in with an administrator or standard user account. This is useful for technical support teams, systems administrators and those who occasionally work remotely and still want access to the files and programs on their office computers. For more information on Remote Desktop Connection, check out some of our related articles below.