Complete User’s Guide to Windows Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) and Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP)

By Albatross Editorial Team

In this guide we will cover what Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) is, how to use it, and what is possible and not possible with it as it pertains to the end user.

Remote Desktop Protocol also known as Remote Desktop Connection allows you to connect to remote desktops and use them as if they were local, providing you with the same familiar Windows experience.

Requirements to access RDP

In order to access an RDP session  and connect to remote server, you must have the following:

  1. A computer with Remote Desktop Client (RDP Client) - If you use Windows, that client comes by default with Windows.
  2. Your computer must be connected to the internet with internet speed of about 2Kbps UP and Down. Check your internet speed here
  3. You must be authorized to access a remote location (Server) - You will need to supply at least a username and password to log into the remote server.

What does the RDC client look like?

On Windows it looks like this

How do I access the RDP client on Windows?

If you are on a Windows PC follow those instructions to access the Remote Desktop Client.

Option 1: Using the command line

  1. Click the start menu
  2. Type in “mstsc” or “mstsc.exe” 
  3. Hit Enter
  4. At this point you should see the client

How do I connect to the remote server using the RDC client?

There are two primary ways to connect. First method is to connect directly to the remote server and the other is using a Gateway. The method depends on how the server infrastructure is setup on the back. Often times your company or provider would give you the instructions on exactly how to connect. Sometimes they provide you with an RDP file that has all you need to connect.

Connecting Directly without a gateway

  1. On the Remote Desktop Connection window, under computer, type in the IP Address or DNS Server name you wish to connect to.
  2. Click “Connect”
  3. At this point you will be challenged with a username and password
  1. Enter your username - Your username is usually in the format of “domain\username” if you are part of a domain. If you are not part of a domain try “.\username”. If the username field is not available to type in, make sure you click on more choices, then “user a different account”. 
  2. Enter the password
  3. Click OK. At this point if you are authorized you will be connected with your remote desktop

Screen and Monitor Considerations when using Remote Desktop Connections

How does connecting to the remote server affect what you see on your screen locally? You have a few options when using RDP as it pertains to your local monitor.

  • You can turn on the settings on the RDC such that it covers all your monitors and thereby taking over your local desktop. 
  • You can only allow the RDC to only use one monitor only
  • You can tell it to only be a small window in your monitor (do not use full monitor size). This way you can drag it around like a regular window.

How to Configure Monitor Settings

  1. In the RDC window, click Show Options
  1. Click on Display TAB
  1. Use the slider to either use full size of your screen or show up as a smaller window
  2. Check the “Use all my monitors for the remote session” if you want the RDP to take over the all your monitors
  3. Make sure Highest Quality (32 bit) color is selected

Remote Desktop Connection Audio Settings

When you are on a remote desktop, and you play an audio file or video, would you like to hear that audio? Here are the options that will allow you to do that.


  • Play on this Computer - you will hear the audio on the remote desktop
  • Do not play - You will not hear any audio played on the remote desktop
  • Play on remote computer - The audio will play on the remote computer, but you will not hear it on your local computer

Microphone Options

If you speak into your Mic on your local computer, do you want the mic to be picked up by the remote server. 


  • Record from this computer
  • Do not record

How to Print from a Remote Desktop Connection

If you have a local printer attached to your computer, whether USB or network printer you can print to that printer from the remote desktop. This is all done seamlessly usually with one option in the Remote Desktop Connection Client.  By checking the option your local printers will appear in any application on the remote desktop that supports printing.

How to enable it

  1. Click the “Local Resources” tab in remote desktop connection window
  2. Under “Local devices and resources”, check “Printers”

How to use Clipboard Support on Remote Desktop Connections

When you enable clipboard support on your RDP, you are able to Copy text or files between your local computer and the remote desktop and vice versa.

How to enable it

  1. In the Remote Desktop Connection window, click “Local Resources”
  2. Check “Clipboard”

How to transfer files between Windows Remote Desktop and your local computer

When you work on remote desktops, you will often want to transfer files between the local computer and the remote desktop. There are two ways to do this using the client.

  1. Method 1 - Using copy and paste. Simply copy any files locally, then go to your remote desktop and paste the files.
  2. Method 2 - Using “attached local drives” - If enabled, this means that your local drives will appear as drives on the remote desktop. You can then access those drives on the remote desktop and you will see your local files. You can drag and drop files from there between your local and remote connection.

Method 2 - Using Attached Local Drives on the Remote Desktop

First make sure this feature is enabled. 

  1. On your Remote Desktop Connection window, click Local Resources Tab
  2. Click on More 
  3. Check “Drives” - select drives you want to appear in the remote desktop session
  1. Click OK

To confirm the local drives now appear

  1. In your remote desktop session, go to This PC
  2. Under “Devices and drives”, you will see a drives that says “C on {your local desktop name}”
  2. Double click on it and you will see your local files in that drive.

How to end my session in the Remote Desktop?

When done using the remote desktop, there are two ways to step away from it and end it.

  1. End it by logging off
  2. End it by disconnecting

If you log off your session, all the open windows will close and you free up server resources. This is a good method to use when you are done for the day.

Disconnecting a session, disconnects you and closes your local window to the server. However, it does not close out the windows you have open on the remote server, it keeps them exactly how you left them. This is beneficial if you step away for lunch for example. When you come back you want to continue where you left off. Leaving sessions disconnected overnight is usually not a good idea. Often times server policies will auto log you off after a few hours of no use.

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