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Chapter 4. Windows XP Applications and Tools > Remote Desktop Connection

Remote Desktop Connection\windows\system32\mstsc.exe

Access another computer remotely, as though you were sitting in front of it. (Remote Desktop Connection is included with Windows XP Professional only.)

To Open

Start Programs Accessories Communications Remote Desktop Connection

Command Prompt mstsc


Remote Desktop Connection allows you to connect to another computer (or allows someone else to connect your computer) and use it as though you were sitting in front of it. Much more than simply a Telnet connection, Remote Desktop Connection allows you to see a full Desktop, complete with icons and the Start menu, and even run programs on the remote computer (see Figure 4-76).

Figure 4-76. Use another Windows XP computer as though you were sitting in front of it with a Remote Desktop Connection

To configure a computer to accept incoming connections via Remote Desktop Connection, go to Control Panel [Performance and Maintenance] System Remote tab, and turn on the "Allow users to connect remotely to this computer" option. By default, the administrator always has access, but you can enable access for other users as well by clicking Select Remote Users.

Once a computer has been set up, you can connect to it by opening Remote Desktop Connection and typing that computer's name (if connected on a local network) or that computer's IP address (if connected to the Internet). Click Options to specify a username, password, domain (only for Windows NT domains), and even to save your connection settings to a file so you can connect more easily later. The Display tab lets you choose between full-screen mode and windowed mode. The Local Resources tab lets you choose whether sounds generated by the remote computer are played locally (which can slow the connection), whether certain keystroke combinations are interpreted locally or sent to the remote computer, and whether to automatically connect you to the remote computer's disks, printers, or serial ports. Choose the Programs tab to set up a program to start automatically when a connection has been established. Finally, the Experience tab allows you to turn on or off features that will affect performance; depending on your connection, for example, you may wish to enable or disable the remote computer's background wallpaper.

You can save the connection profile for a particular connection by clicking Save As. This will create an Remote Desktop Profile (.rdp) file, which can then be double-clicked to start the connection without having to retype the connection information. Right-click any .rdp file and select Edit to return to the Properties dialog for the profile.


  • Currently, both computers involved in a Remote Desktop Connection must be running Windows XP, although Microsoft may release Remote Desktop Connection clients for other versions of Windows in the future.

  • Alternatives to Remote Desktop Connection include pcAnywhere (commercial software, http://www.symantec.com/), VNC (freeware, http://www.uk.research.att.com/vnc/), and the Remote Desktop Sharing feature of Microsoft NetMeeting (discussed earlier in this chapter). Unlike Remote Desktop Connection, these alternatives work on all modern versions of Windows. Furthermore, VNC works on Unix and Macintosh systems as well.

  • Remote Desktop Connection replaces the Terminal Services client found in Windows NT and Windows 2000.

See Also

Remote Assistance, Telnet

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