How to Enable Remote Desktop Connections in Windows 7 & Windows 8

remoteWindows Remote Desktop Connection allows you to connect to a Windows-based computer via the Internet or a network. When you're connected via the Remote Desktop Connection, you can see the host computer's Desktop and access its files and folders as if you were sitting in front of the computer. This is useful for both systems administrators and technical support teams as well as end users, who may want to access their work computers from home or vice-versa. But, before you can connect, you must enable Remote Desktop Connections. Here's how this is done.

LIMITATIONS: If you run Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate or Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8 Pro or Enterprise, Windows 8.1 Pro or Enterprise you can accept Remote Desktop Connections. In this tutorial, you'll learn how to enable Remote Desktop Connections on your Windows-based computer so that it can be controlled remotely.

How to Find the Remote Desktop Connection Settings

In Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, there are many ways to access your Remote Desktop settings, but there's one method that works the same in all three operating systems: open the Control Panel and go to System and Security -> System.

In the System window, in the column on the left side, click the link that says "Remote settings".

Windows, Remote Desktop Connection, Enable, Turn On

You can also use search. In Windows 7, search for remote settings and click the search result that says "Allow remote access to your computer".

Windows, Remote Desktop Connection, Enable, Turn On

In Windows 8, search for remote settings, filter by Settings and click the search result that says "Allow remote access to your computer". In Windows 8.1, the same procedure applies with the difference that there is no need for you to filter the search results.

The System Properties window is opened at the Remote tab. Here there are two sections: Remote Assistance and Remote Desktop. The settings that interest us for this tutorial are in the latter.

Windows, Remote Desktop Connection, Enable, Turn On

Above you can see the System Properties window as it looks in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. In Windows 7, the options are the same but organized and named slightly different.

Windows, Remote Desktop Connection, Enable, Turn On

How to Enable Remote Desktop Connections

You have three options to choose from under Remote Desktop:

  • "Don't allow (remote) connections to this computer" - This option will prevent users from connecting to your computer using Remote Desktop Connection or RemoteApp. RemoteApp connections are connections where the client only connects to a single application.
  • Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop (in Windows 7) or Allow remote connections to this computer (Windows 8 and 8.1) - This will allow users running any version of RemoteApp or Remote Desktop Connection to connect to your computer. Use this if you're not sure which version of Remote Desktop the client will be using, or if they are using a third-party Remote Desktop Connection application. For example, Ubuntu clients will likely require the second option.
  • "Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication" - This restricts Remote Desktop Connections to those running versions of Remote Desktop that have Network Level Authentication. Network Level Authentication was introduced in Remote Desktop Client 6.0. If the client computer is running Windows 7 or Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, or they've recently downloaded the Remote Desktop Connection client, use this option, as it's more secure.

At this point, you can click or tap OK and clients will be able to log in to your computer via Remote Desktop Connection using the login credentials for administrator level users.

However, you probably won't want to give out your administrator credentials to others. So, it's a good idea to set up a separate standard level user account for Remote Desktop Connections. If you want to give the permission to other user accounts to connect via Remote Desktop Connections, click or tap Select Users.

Windows, Remote Desktop Connection, Enable, Turn On

This opens the Remote Desktop Users window. To add the users to whom you want to give permissions, click or tap Add.

Windows, Remote Desktop Connection, Enable, Turn On

In the Select Users window, type the user account name in the box in the next window and click or tap Check Names.

Windows, Remote Desktop Connection, Enable, Turn On

Windows will make sure that a user account with that name exists and add the location in front of it, if you are using a local account or complete your email address if you are using a Microsoft account.

When you're done, click OK.

Windows, Remote Desktop Connection, Enable, Turn On

You are back to the Remote Desktop Users window. Here, click or tap OK.

Windows, Remote Desktop Connection, Enable, Turn On

Now, the user you added will be able to connect via Remote Desktop Connection to your computer with his/her login credentials.

Conclusion

After completing the above steps, users will be able to connect to your Windows computer, provided that your computer is powered on and connected to a network. Computers running Linux, Mac OS X or Windows can connect using the Remote Desktop protocol. We show you how to connect to a computer and what you can do once you're connected in the tutorials recommended below.