Windows

Take advantage of Windows XP Pro's Remote Desktop Connection shortcuts

If you regularly use Remote Desktop Connection to manage other Windows XP Pro systems, chances are that you've been working with a remote system in a window. While you could easily switch to full screen mode or even change the Keyboard setting, it is definitely worth your time to learn the Remote Desktop Connection shortcuts.

If you regularly use Remote Desktop Connection to manage other Windows XP Pro systems, chances are that you've been working with a remote system in a window. If so, you've likely used [Windows] or [Alt][Tab] with the intention of controlling the remote system and then remembered that those keys control the local system. This happens because the Keyboard setting on the Local Resources tab of the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box is set to In Full Screen Mode Only by default; as a result, all of the Windows key combinations will only work when you view the remote system in full screen mode.

While you could easily switch to full screen mode or even change the Keyboard setting, it is definitely worth your time to learn the Remote Desktop Connection shortcuts. For example, you can activate the Start menu of a remote system by pressing [Alt][Home]. Likewise, you can cycle through the programs running on a remote system by pressing [Alt][Page Up]. In addition to these Remote Desktop Connection shortcuts, here are others that you might want to use.

Shortcut Keystroke Description
[Alt][Insert] Cycles through running programs in most recently used order
[Alt][Delete] Displays a window's Control menu
[Alt][Page Down] Cycles through running programs from right to left
[Ctrl][Alt][End] Opens the Windows Security dialog box
[Ctrl][Alt][Break] Toggles the remote computer display between a window and a full screen
[Ctrl][Alt][-] (Minus sign) Places a screenshot of the screen in the remote computer's Clipboard
[Ctrl][Alt][+] (Plus sign) Places a screenshot of a window in the remote computer's Clipboard

Note: This tip applies only to Windows XP Professional.

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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.

30 comments
david.duwe
david.duwe

Good resource. Thanks. I may have missed it somewhere, but is there a shortcut to run a Ctrl-Alt-Del on the remote PC?

erbngeek
erbngeek

All of the information in the article, and answers to the questions posted can be answered by clicking on the Help button, or typing c:\windows\help\mstsc.chm in the Run Box. Also a quick and easy commandline paramter listing can be listed for many programs by using the /? or /q parameter. Example: mstsc /q or mstsc /? Even though this information is available, I still like to see these kinds of articles. I treat them as a sort of pop quiz because it makes me take a few minutes to inventory what I already know and researching some additional items to add to that arsenal.

wfs1946
wfs1946

Can anyone explain how to view the second monitor on a remote PC in a dual monitor configuration? I'm relatively new at this and I feel like a dummy asking this question, it probably has a simple answer. Thanks.

Blackcurrant
Blackcurrant

This is very useful information for me. I frequently manage our servers and XP Pro machines while at work and from home via Remote Desktop. Another useful tip to know is that if you logon to a server locally, which then starts up programs e.g. backup software, email etc, then use the Remote Desktop connection to log on using the same credentials, you will start another instance, and will not see the status of your running programs. In fact you will not see them at all. To get round this, use the Remote Desktops snap-in for the Microsoft Management Console that comes with the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit tools. When you use the snap-in, you can see and use the programs that are running. This is where someone tells me that there is a way round this... :)

kvankerr
kvankerr

Everyone who works with concurrent remote desktop sessions should test visionapp Remote Desktop! This freeware program gives you tabbed RD sessions: www.visionapp.com.

lmayeda
lmayeda

CTRL/ALT/END to get to the task manager on the remote session

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

Monitor spanning Remote Desktop Connection supports high-resolution displays that can be spanned across multiple monitors. However, the total resolution on all monitors must be under 4096 x 2048 pixels. The monitors must have the same resolution. Additionally, the monitors must be aligned side-by-side. To have the desktop of the remote computer span multiple monitors, type Mstsc /span at a command prompt.

apwalter
apwalter

Remote Desktop is a very helpful tool indeed. To login and see the running programs and desktop as would the local user, try executing "C:\WINNT\system32\mstsc.exe /v:XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX /console" without the quotes, from the command line, where XXX is the IP of the remote computer. I believe that this is called terminal services mode.

CustomComputers
CustomComputers

Any further information relative to the snap in would be much appreciated. Since we are just setting up and learning the usage I am unable to advise a work around for you. Any books or references you might suggest?

bonkyhead
bonkyhead

I've got 13 servers to open and this baby lets me open them all at once fast, fast, fast. Tabbed access - beautiful! Blows that Royal nonsense away.

gjschulte
gjschulte

I run on Windows XP Pro at home, but my office workstation is still running Windows 2000. Is there any way to use RDP from my home box to the office when I am telecommuting? Because I work for a state agency, which uses a firewall, and does not like us to install unapproved apps on our office workstations, my options are limited. Any help would be appreciated.

scs68
scs68

Visionapp is good, but you should also try Royal TS. It has an excellent UI and you can backup your connections to a small file and take it anywhere so you can use RTS from multiple PCs and always have the same list of computers. And it's free!

CustomComputers
CustomComputers

FINDING INFORMATION RELATIVE TO REMOTE USAGE IS ALWAYS WELCOME. WE ARE JUST SETTING UP AND LEARNING THE FUNCTIONS OF THIS TECHNOLOGY

wfs1946
wfs1946

Thank you for your reply. The first opportunity I have to try that I will. My resolution is fairly high on my desktop PC because of having 24" wide screen monitors, each is set to 1920 x 1200 pixels. This would put me just out of the range that you specified. Thanks again to you and to everyone that supports this forum. It is a wonderful place to find out valuable information.

hturner
hturner

In the newest version of RDC, I have not had consistent results with the command line switch /console in the Run screen. But, it does work if you put the switch in line with IP address once the dialog comes up. i.e. xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx /console goes in the "Computer" field, then click Connect.

billconrad
billconrad

Since we are talking about Windows XP would the command not have to be changed to: C:\WINDOWS\system32\mstsc.exe /v:XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX /console

gjschulte
gjschulte

I have tried a couple of different flavors of VNC, but was unable to obtain a connection through the agency firewall. As stated before, I work for one of our state's agencies. Our firewall has things locked down pretty tight. And I do not believe that our security people would allow us to use an outside website such as logmein to make that connection. I guess I will have to continue using the "thin-client" desktop when I am out of the office. Thanks for all your suggestions. Gary

Jeff Adams
Jeff Adams

Console connections are only supported on Windows Server 2003 and 2008. There is only one console connection per server. Either you are sitting in front of the server with attached KVM, or you are viewing the console remotely via RDC /console. However, the server does support more than one connection. In remote administration mode, you can have simultaneous console and Terminal Services (TS) connections. In application server mode, the server can have simultaneous console and many TS connections. If you logon via the console connection, start apps, and dissconnect (i.e. *not* logout), you can reconnect to that same console session and continue using it. If you logon via the console connection, disconnect, and RDC to the server again without /console, then you connect to a TS session and get a different Desktop. Windows 2000 Server Terminal Services does not support remote console connections, only TS sessions (i.e. the /console switch has no effect when connecting to 2000). Windows XP, being a single-user OS, only allows a single logged on user at a time. Hence, when connecting to a XP PC via RDC, the physical console is locked for the duration of the remote presentation. If you unlock the PC at the console, you disconnect the RDC session. Again, when connecting to XP, the /console switch is useless. -Jeff

Penguin_me
Penguin_me

As a small aside, incase you don't have windows installed to the C drive (I don't, a sling-back to my old setup, I never changed it over) the %systemroot% will *always* take you the the "X:\Windows\" folder - it works in 90% of Windows programs - scripting may need you to expand it before you can use it (i.e. use it to get the system directory, expand it and save it to a var). So you would use "%systemroot%\system32\mstsc.exe /v:XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX /console".

jjarvis
jjarvis

In order to view a session that has already been logged in you can go to the task manager, then to the users tab and see the current sessions. You can right click a user and click connect to get into that session. Then once you are in that session do the same thing to log off the session you just came from. For both Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP I always just use mstsc /v computername as long as mstsc is in the path you should be all set. And the /console switch tricks windows to make it think you are sitting right there at the console (actual keboard / mouse / monitor connected to the box)

jjarvis
jjarvis

From what I understand logmein does everything over port 80. So you may be ok there the only thing is that you install an ActiveX plugin for your browser, which may be locked down by security...

Forum Surfer
Forum Surfer

Admins hate that stuff. We have all traffic blocked related to that type of website as there are several similar to it...convenient for home users though! On the enterprise level it's kind of silly and takes up too much traffic, not to mention security risks. Check your corporate polices, or lack therof before you use this.

jjarvis
jjarvis

Another free alternative is a web app called logmein at logmein.com it installs an agent on your machine then from any computer you just go to www.logmein.com and log in then you will see your computer listed and if they are on or not, then you can remote control them right through a web browser. And best of all its free!

erbngeek
erbngeek

VNC and variants are available as free and fee-based remote connection software. VNC in its native state is not secure, however others such as tightvnc have encryption and better security. VNC allows one to view the remote computer screen at the same time someone else is at the console, like shadowing. It works great for training and phone support when you need the customer to see the same screen you are working with. One interesting fact about Terminal Services. There exists software that does not allow installation while under a remote desktop connection. I remember this to be particularly true for Windows 2000. In fact I also recall not being able to add the Appletalk protocol to windows 2000 under a terminal session. I was, however able to use VNC. In any case VNC has saved me trips to the console for installations that couldn't be completed under TS. Kerry

gjschulte
gjschulte

Is there the possibility of an option similar to RDP? In other words, any app (preferrably freeware or open source)that would give similar functionality? Or is it because of the design of Win2K Pro that no simple option like that is possible? If there were such a no cost application, I could probably get approval to install it. Gary

Jeff Adams
Jeff Adams

While it is true that versions of the Remote Desktop Connection client prior to version 6.0, which is the current version, are backwards compatible to Win 95, this is not relevant to the question. The poster asked if he could connect to his Windows 2000 workstation (i.e. Professional) via RDP. Win 2K Pro does not support incoming Terminal Services connections; Win 2K Server does support TS in remote administration and application modes. -Jeff