Windows

Customize MMC with the Remote Desktops Snap-in for Windows 7

Greg Shultz shows you how to install and use the Remote Desktops Snap-in in Windows 7 to customize the Microsoft Management Console.

In last week's blog, "Create a Custom Microsoft Management Console in Windows 7," I showed you how to create a custom MMC using the snap-ins found on your system. I also told you that you could download snap-ins that you could then add to your custom console. If you regularly use Remote Desktop Connection in Windows 7 to connect to multiple systems on your network, you will be very interested to learn about the Remote Desktops Snap-in, which is designed to provide you with a centralized location to keep all your regularly accessed Remote Desktop Connections

The Remote Desktops Snap-in is a part of the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 with SP1 package that is available for download from the Microsoft Download site. As you might have surmised from the name, the majority of the tools in the Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 with SP1 are designed to allow IT administrators to manage Windows Server 2003 and 2008 systems. However, the Remote Desktops Snap-in is a useful tool for anyone who uses Remote Desktop Connection in Windows 7.

In this edition of the Windows Desktop Report, I'll show you how to install and use the Remote Desktops Snap-in in Windows 7.

System Requirements

The Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 with SP1 can be installed only on the Enterprise, Professional, or Ultimate editions of Windows 7 SP1. Also, keep in mind that there are both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 with SP1, so be sure and select the correct download.

Installation

The Remote Server Administration Tools for Windows 7 with SP1 download is named after a Windows Software Update: Windows6.1-KB958830-x86-RefreshPkg.msu; so it appears differently from a regular download package. In fact, once you launch the installation procedure you'll be prompted to install a Windows software update, as shown in Figure A. However, there's no need to worry -- this is simply an update to the Remote Server Administration Tools.

Figure A

The installation begins by asking if you want to install a Windows software update.

Once the package is installed on your system, you will use Windows 7's Programs and Features to install the tools that you want to use. To begin, click the Start button and type Programs and Features in the search box. When the Programs and Features shortcut appears in the results list, select it and press [Enter].

You'll then see the Programs and Features window and will need to select Turn Windows Features On or Off, as shown in Figure B. When the Windows Features dialog box appears, scroll down the list and expand the Remote Server Administration Tools branch. Then, select Remote Desktop Services Tools check box, as shown in Figure C. Then, click OK.

Figure B

From the Programs and Features window, select Turn Windows Features On or Off.

Figure C

You'll find the Remote Desktop Services Tools when you expand the Remote Server Administration Tools branch.

Launching the Remote Desktops Snap-in

At this point, you may find a shortcut to Remote Desktops on the Start menu or you may find the Remote Desktops shortcut on the All Programs | Administrative Tools menu. Either way, you can also access Remote Desktops by clicking the Start button and typing Remote Desktops in the search box.

In addition, keep in mind that Remote Desktop Services Tool actually includes two snap-ins:

  • Remote Desktops and
  • Remote Desktop Services Manager

Therefore, you can add them to a custom MMC if you want. (I'll examine the Remote Desktop Services Manager snap-in in more detail in a future blog post.)

Once the Remote Desktops console launches, it will be ready for you to begin adding your Remote Desktop connections, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

When it first launches, Remote Desktops is empty and ready for you to begin adding your Remote Desktop Connections.
To add your connections, simply right-click on the Remote Desktops icon and select the Add New Connection command, as shown in Figure E. Then, when you see the Add New Connection dialog box, fill in the computer name or IP address and the logon information like I did in Figure F.

Figure E

You begin by selecting the Add New Connection command.

Figure F

You'll need to fill in the connection details.

Making connections

After you have added your Remote Desktop connections, you can connect to any one or all of the systems that you have added to the Remote Desktops console. Keep in mind that the default screen size setting is set to Expand to Fill MMC Result Pane. Therefore, you'll want to maximize the Remote Desktops console and may even want to resize the right pane so that it doesn't use any more screen space than is necessary to display the names of your connections. (To change the screen size setting, select the Properties command from the context menu and then choose the Screen Options tab.)

To make a connection, right-click on the name of a system and select the Connect command, as shown in Figure G. You'll then see the remote system in the window, as shown in Figure H. And, best of all you can connect to multiple systems at the same time and easily switch between them, as shown in Figure I.

Figure G

Right-click and select the Connect command.

Figure H

The remote desktop connection will appear.

Figure I

You can simultaneously connect to and switch between multiple systems.

What's your take?

Do you regularly use Remote Desktop Connection in Windows 7 to connect to systems on your network? Now that you know about Remote Desktops MMC, will you take advantage of this feature? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

Also read:

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

7 comments
IT Support23
IT Support23

Thanks for this informative post. Now I can customize my MMC, will definitely take advantage of this feature.. :)

Jay_n_VB
Jay_n_VB

I to use Remote Desktop Connection Manager to manage all my connections. I like that I can even organize them how I see fit (by office, department, etc.). I don't see that ability in this one.

michael-mueller
michael-mueller

I use Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection Manager to manage multiple remote connections.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Do you regularly use Remote Desktop Connection in Windows 7 to connect to systems on your network? Now that you know about Remote Desktops MMC, will you take advantage of this feature?

simonh
simonh

I hadn't taken that into consideration, organising into groups, which of course is not (yet?) possible with jump lists.

simonh
simonh

I use RDP to manage about 20 servers but the snap-in is too limiting on the client side with screen real estate being confined to the viewing pane and further restricted by the RDP session tree on the left. Much better now is to take advantage of Win 7's jump-lists. Pin the RDP shortcut to the taskbar and if you have MRU's enabled it will begin to remember each RDP connection. Right-Click the RDP icon and you can then pin, remove or reorder. Each connection is unique based on the settings of the dialog when establishing the RDP session. Don't forget the default RDP profile is stored as a hidden file in your user profile 'My Documents'. For me this is the best use to date of (the brilliant) jump-list feature.

david.fretz
david.fretz

I use the save-as function in the RDP dialog box options to create the .rdp files, saving them to a folder. Then I go one step further and edit the .rdp files using Notepad, where I can set a specific screen resolution for the connection, which I find helpful given my specific monitor setup. Then I pin them to the taskbar.