Operating systems

Manage remote desktop sessions with CoRD for Mac

Scott Lowe shows you how to manage remote desktop sessions between Macs and Windows with the free CoRD tool.

More and more, people are turning to Macs over their trusty old Windows computers.  According to this recent article at OS X Daily, Macs now enjoy 15% of the U.S. share of the desktop market.  This is much higher than it was just a few years ago and shows rapid growth.  Moreover, even some administrators are either choosing or finding it necessary to switch to or supplement their Windows PCs with Mac OS X-based desktops or laptops.

As Macs continue to make their way into the enterprise, the tools we're used to need to be replaced with tools that are native to Mac OS X. Obviously, it's also possible to simply run a tool such as VMware Fusion, Parallels, or VirtualBox; but, if you want to remain strictly in OS X, you need to start making some adjustments.

In this article, I'm going to discuss the first step I took on my journey. Before I get started, let me say that I've become platform agnostic. I'm very comfortable switching back and forth between platforms and simply want to be able to get my work done on whatever platform I happen to be using at the time.

I hate Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection tool for Mac OS X. It's sluggish and extremely prone to crashing. It crashes... a lot. It hangs up... a lot.  And keeping multiple connections open at the same time is a chore. So, I gave up on it and switched to a free tool named CoRD.

According to the CoRD web site, "CoRD is a Mac OS X remote desktop client for Microsoft Windows computers using the RDP protocol. It's easy to use, fast, and free for anyone to use or modify." CoRD is an open source tool that provides remote desktop connections to RDP-based servers. It also allows you to save your connection information in a list so that you can quickly and easily reconnect to servers later on.

In Figure A below, you can see a Windows 7 desktop as viewed from within CoRD.

Figure A

The remote desktop feature in action (click to enlarge)
If you want to set up a new remote desktop connection to a Windows system, you use the Inspector, shown in Figure B. On this screen, provide a name and IP address for the machine to which you'd like to connect. Here, you also provide a user name, password and domain for a user account that has permission to access the remote system.

In the Session Preferences section, you're able to specify the screen size you'd like to work with as well as the number of colors and devices you'd like to forward. In the Performance & Audio section of the Inspector, you can choose, among other things, whether or not you'd like to enable ClearType and audio. Remember, the more options you enable, the more bandwidth that is necessary to support the connection.

Figure B

The Inspector is where you configure a remote desktop connection.
I'm not going to go over every options page available in CoRD, but do want to show you the two main configuration windows. You can see these for yourself in Figures C and D. In Figure C, you see all of the general preferences that are available for CoRd. Here, you can decide, for example, whether or not you want the app to look for new releases and can decide whether or not to scale the size of large remote monitors. In Figure D, you can see the default options that will be used for sessions established via CoRD. By default, the screen size is 1024x640, but you can change this to a new default value. You can also choose which performance options to select and deselect.

Figure C

The General preferences window in CoRD

Figure D

CoRD Default preferences

Summary

CoRD was just the first replacement tool I needed to find once I started using Mac OS X more and more. It's an outstanding tool and you can't beat the free price tag!

About

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...

8 comments
shiraz.malik
shiraz.malik

Really helpful information! I've been looking for a similar tool ever since I moved to Mac a few years ago. I don't think VNC or team viewer is an option here since we have servers in our company who are configured for RDP. So, it's impossible to change the software on those servers. And, all I was looking for is just an effective way of managing my RDP sessions. I did have 'RDC for Mac' from Microsoft but it's not the best software when you have 20 RDP servers and you have to move back and forth between the servers to manage them. Thanks again!

galindos
galindos

Try TeamViewer...for personal use it's free and covers several platforms...

jaywarsaw
jaywarsaw

Does anyone have experience with a Windows 7 client that will allow you to remote desktop into a Mac OS X machine? Would the performance be sufficient to run the iOS SDK from a Windows machine?

vhdesign
vhdesign

I agre, CoRD is a great tool, it only has one problem, it does not support Gateways :-( After some search i found another program that does, its called iTap and it works on iPads too :-). It's not for free but it only costs 20??? or 12$

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

For sure it's Hotkeys.Collect them and you won't be sorry.They're out there on the Internet.I suspect that you can fix any computer problem with the correct Hotkey.They're probably shortcut files in the BIOS.

BALTHOR
BALTHOR

It's computer to computer.You connect to the remote computer with a network screen name and passwords.In Windows there's like a wizard for this and YouTube also has some stuff.The problem is that the computer that you remote to does a screen log off.There is a short file out there that stops this log off.I see it as better than downloading or using a cloud or share sites.You just copy/paste to the remote computer.It's much faster than downloading and the file size seems to be unlimited.It looks like a VBox virtual when you're doing it.The remote computer appears in your desktop.You can actually control that computer remotely.

davidthornton
davidthornton

... it's not the smoothest or fastest implementation, but it does work. You have to go into the Mac's Sharing pref pane, turn Screen Sharing on, then click the Computer Settings button to allow VNC viewers access. (steps may vary a bit from one OS release to another.)

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