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In Windows, how do I use Remote Desktop to access my remote computer?

In Windows, Remote Desktop allows you to access your computer from a remote location. To enable Remote Desktop, you must have administrative rights on the computer you want to use as the host (i.e., the computer to which you will connect from a remote location), which must be running one of the following versions of Windows:

  • Windows 8.x Professional or Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise, or Ultimate
  • Windows Vista Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate
  • Windows XP Professional

    Important: As of April 8, 2014, Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP with security updates. To ensure the highest security standards, the UITS Support Center no longer registers Windows XP devices to the IU network. UITS strongly recommends that you look into the options for replacing or upgrading your Windows XP computers for full compatibility with IU systems. See About end of life for Windows XP.

The Remote Desktop Connection client software (for the computer from which you want to connect) is installed by default on all computers running Windows 7, Vista, or XP.

Note: At Indiana University, all Student Technology Center (STC) workstations running Windows have the Remote Desktop Connection client installed. You cannot connect to an STC computer using Remote Desktop, but you can connect from an STC computer to your host computer.

To enable and establish a remote connection to your host computer:

Enable the Remote Desktop feature on your host computer

  1. In Windows 8.x, move the mouse to the bottom right-hand corner of the screen and select Settings. Click PC info.

    In Windows 7, Vista, and XP, from the Start menu, select Control Panel (or Settings, and then Control Panel). Double-click System.

  2. In Windows 8.x, 7, and Vista, click Remote settings. In the "Remote Desktop" section, select one of the two options to allow connections from other computers.

    In Windows XP, click the Remote tab. Select Allow users to connect remotely to this computer.

  3. To choose which users will have remote access, in Windows 8.x, 7, and Vista, click Select Users... , or in XP, click Select Remote Users... . Typically, all administrators of the computer will have access by default. Each user must have a password before you can allow remote access.

  4. When you are finished, click OK. Your computer will now be able to accept incoming Remote Desktop connections.

Open a connection

If you have configured your computer to accept remote connections, to establish a Remote Desktop connection:

  1. Depending upon your network configuration and system requirements, you may first have to establish a VPN connection to your host computer's network.

    At Indiana University:

    For more about remote desktop connections on the IU network, see About the block on off-campus remote desktop connections at IU.

  2. From the Start menu, select Programs or All Programs. Select Accessories, and then Remote Desktop Connection.

  3. In the space next to "Computer:", type the name or IP address for your host computer. Click Connect.

    Note: If you would like to adjust any of your connection settings such as screen size, login information, availability of local hard drives and printers, or keyboard and sound behavior, click Options before clicking Connect.

  4. In the Log On to Windows dialog box, type your username, password, and domain (if required). Click OK.

  5. Once you are connected, you can use your remote computer as if you were sitting in front of it. When you are finished, in the Remote Desktop Connection window, select Start, and then click Shut Down.

  6. In the Shut Down Windows dialog box, from the drop-down menu, select Log Off username, where username is your username on the remote computer. Click OK.
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Last modified on March 21, 2014.

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