Windows 7 : Connecting to the Remote Desktop (part 2) - Making an Advanced Connection

3/8/2011 3:39:09 PM

Making an Advanced Connection

The basic remote connection from the previous section may be all you need to use for your remote sessions. However, Remote Desktop Connection comes with many settings that enable you to configure options such as the size of the remote desktop screen, whether your Windows keyboard shortcuts (such as Alt+Tab) apply to the remote computer or your computer, and much more.

Here are the steps to follow to use these settings to make an advanced connection to the host computer’s desktop:

Select Start, type remote, and then select Remote Desktop Connection in the search results.

In the Computer text box, type the name or the IP address of the host computer.

Click Options to expand the dialog box to the version shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Click the Options button to expand the dialog box so that you can customize Remote Desktop.

The General tab offers the following additional options:

  • Computer— The name or IP address of the remote computer.

  • User Name— (Windows XP only) The username you want to use to log in to the host computer.

  • Password— (Windows XP only) The password to use to log on to the host computer.

  • Domain— (Windows XP only) Leave this text box blank.

  • Save— (Windows 7/Vista only) Click this button to have Windows remember your current settings so that you don’t have to type them again the next time you connect. This is useful if you only connect to one remote host.

  • Save As— Click this button to save your connection settings to a Remote Desktop (.rdp) file for later use. This is convenient if you regularly connect to multiple hosts.

  • Open— Click this button to open a saved .rdp file.

The Display tab offers three options for controlling the look of the Remote Desktop window:

  • Remote Desktop Size— Drag this slider to set the resolution of Remote Desktop. Drag the slider all the way to the left for a 640×480 screen size. Drag the slider all the way to the right to have Remote Desktop take up the entire client screen, no matter what resolution the host is currently using.

  • Colors— Use this list to set the number of colors used for the Remote Desktop display. Note that if the number of colors on either the host or the client is fewer than the value you select in the Colors list, Windows uses the lesser value.

  • Display the Connection Bar When I Use the Full Screen— When this check box is activated, the Remote Desktop Connection client displays a connection bar at the top of the Remote Desktop window, provided you selected Full Screen for the Remote Desktop Size setting. You use the connection bar to minimize, restore, and close the Remote Desktop window. If you find that the connection bar just gets in the way, deactivate this check box to prevent it from appearing.


You may need to be a bit careful if the remote host is currently using a higher resolution than the one you select using the Remote Desktop Size slider. When you make the connection, Windows 7 will change the host’s screen resolution to the lower setting, and then when you disconnect from the host Windows 7 will return the resolution to the higher setting. However, some video cards don’t react well to these resolution switches, and they cause the running programs to think they’re still operating at the lower resolution. To work around this, try to use the same resolution both locally and remotely. If you can’t do that, minimize all the open windows before making the connection (if possible).

The Local Resources tab offers three options for controlling certain interactions between the client and host:

  • Remote Audio— Use this list to determine where Windows plays the sounds generated by the host. You can play them on the client (if you want to hear what’s happening on the host), on the host (if you want a user sitting at the host to hear the sounds), or not at all (if you have a slow connection).

  • Keyboard— Use this list to determine which computer is sent special Windows key combinations—such as Alt+Tab and Ctrl+Esc—that you press on the client keyboard. You can have the key combos sent to the client, to the host, or to the host only when you’re running the Remote Desktop window in full-screen mode. What happens if you’re sending key combos to one computer and you need to use a particular key combo on the other computer? For such situations, Remote Desktop offers several keyboard equivalents, outlined in the following table:

    Windows Key ComboRemote Desktop Equivalent
    Alt+TabAlt+Page Up
    Alt+Shift+TabAlt+Page Down
    Ctrl+Esc or Windows LogoAlt+Home
    Print ScreenCtrl+Alt+– (numeric keypad)
    Alt+Print ScreenCtrl+Alt++ (numeric keypad)


    Here are three other useful keyboard shortcuts that you can press on the client computer and have Windows send to the host:

    Ctrl+Alt+EndDisplays the Windows Security dialog box. This is equivalent to pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete, which Windows always applies to the client computer.
    Alt+DeleteDisplays the active window’s Control menu.
    Ctrl+Alt+BreakToggles the Remote Desktop window between full-screen mode and a regular window.

  • Local Devices and Resources— Leave the Printers check box activated to display the client’s printers in the host’s Printers and Faxes window. The client’s printers appear with the syntax Printer (from COMPUTER), where Printer is the printer name and COMPUTER is the network name of the client computer. In Windows 7 and Vista, leave the Clipboard check box activated to use the client’s Clipboard during the remote session. In XP, you can also connect disk drives and serial ports, which I describe in the next step.

In Windows 7 and Vista, click More to see the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box. Use the following check boxes to configure more client devices and resources on the host. (Click OK when you’ve finished.)

  • Smart Cards— Leave this check box activated to access the client’s smart cards on the host.

  • Ports— Activate this check box to make any devices attached to the client’s ports (such as a barcode scanner) available while you’re working with the host.

  • Drives— Activate this check box to display the client’s hard disk partitions and mapped network drives in the hosts Computer (or My Computer) window. (You can also open the branch to activate the check boxes of specific drives.) The client’s drives appear in the window’s Other group with the syntax D on Computer, where D is the drive letter and Computer is the network name of the client computer.

  • Other Supported Plug and Play (PnP) Devices— Activate this check box to make some of the client’s Plug and Play devices, such as media players and digital cameras, available to the host. (You can also open the branch to activate the check boxes of specific devices.)

Use the Programs tab to specify a program to run on connection. Activate the Start the Following Program on Connection check box, and then use the Program Path and File Name text box to specify the program to run. After connecting, the user can work with only this program, and when he quits the program, the session also ends.

Use the Experience tab (the Windows 7 version is shown in Figure 4) to set performance options for the connection. Use the Choose Your Connection Speed to Optimize Performance drop-down list to set the appropriate connection speed. Because you’re connecting over a network, you should choose the LAN (10Mbps or higher) option. Depending on the connection speed you choose, one or more of the following check boxes will be activated. (The faster the speed, the more check boxes Windows activates.)

Figure 4. Use the Experience tab to set performance options for the connection.

  • Desktop Background— Toggles the host’s desktop background on and off.

  • Font Smoothing— (Windows 7/Vista only) Toggles the host’s font smoothing on and off.

  • Desktop Composition— (Windows 7/Vista only) Toggles the host’s desktop composition engine on and off.

  • Show Contents of Window While Dragging— Toggles the display of window contents when you drag a host window with your mouse.

  • Menu and Windows Animation— Toggles on and off the animations that Windows normally uses when you pull down menus or minimize and maximize windows.

  • Themes— Toggles the host’s current visual theme on and off.

  • Bitmap Caching— Improves performance by not storing frequently used host images on the client computer.

Click Connect. Windows 7 prompts you to enter your security credentials.

In Windows 7, type the username and password of the host account you want to use for the logon, and then click OK. (Note that in subsequent logons, you only need to type the password.) In Windows XP, click the icon of the user account with which you want to connect, type the account’s password, and press Enter to complete the connection.

If you activated the Disk Drives or Serial Ports check boxes in the Local Resources tab, a security warning dialog box appears. If you’re sure that making these resources available to the remote computer is safe, activate the Don’t Prompt Me Again for Connections to This Remote Computer check box. Click OK.

Working with the Connection Bar

The remote computer’s desktop then appears on your computer. If you chose to work in full-screen mode, move the cursor to the top of the screen to see the connection bar, shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5. After you’ve connected and the remote computer’s desktop appears on your screen, move the cursor to the top of the screen to see the connection bar.

If you want the connection bar to appear all the time, click to activate the Pin button. If you need to work with your own desktop, you have two choices:

  • Click the connection bar’s Minimize button to minimize the Remote Desktop window.

  • Click the connection bar’s Restore button to display the Remote Desktop window.

Other -----------------
- Windows 7 : Setting Up the Remote Computer as a Host (part 2) - Configuring XP to Act as a Remote Desktop Host
- Windows 7 : Setting Up the Remote Computer as a Host (part 1) - Configuring Windows 7 or Vista to Act as a Remote Desktop Host
- Windows 7 : Working with Network Files Offline (part 6) - Dealing with Synchronization Conflicts
- Windows 7 : Working with Network Files Offline (part 5) - Synchronizing Your Offline Files
- Windows 7 : Working with Network Files Offline (part 4) - Working with Network Files While You’re Offline
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- SOA with .NET and Windows Azure : WCF Discovery (part 2) - Locating a Service Ad Hoc & Sending and Receiving Service Announcements
- SOA with .NET and Windows Azure : WCF Discovery (part 1) - Discovery Modes
- Windows 7 : Working with Network Files Offline (part 3) - Prohibiting a Network Folder from Being Made Available Offline & Encrypting Offline Files
- Windows 7 : Working with Network Files Offline (part 2) - Changing the Amount of Disk Space Used by Offline Files
- Windows 7 : Working with Network Files Offline (part 1) - Activating the Offline Files Feature & Making a File or Folder Available for Offline Use
- Windows 7 : Sharing Resources with the Network (part 2) - Monitoring Your Shared Resources
- Windows 7 : Sharing Resources with the Network (part 1) - Setting Sharing Options & Creating User Accounts for Sharing
- Windows 7 : Accessing a Shared Printer
- Windows 7 : Creating a Network Location for a Remote Folder
- Windows Vista: Windows Reliability and Performance Monitor and Task Manager
- Windows Vista: Configuring Internet Explorer 7.0 - Dynamic Security and Protected Mode
- Windows 7: Mapping a Network Folder to a Local Drive Letter
- SOA with .NET and Windows Azure: WCF Extensions - WCF Router (part 2) - Routing Configuration
- SOA with .NET and Windows Azure: WCF Extensions - WCF Router (part 1) - The RoutingService Class & Routing Contracts
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