Remote desktop

Remote Desktop is a general term for a system which allows a user to interact remotely with a computer, as if physically working at it. This article will briefly describe some options for each of the following types of Remote Desktop:

  • Windows (client) to Windows (host)
  • Macintosh (client) to Macintosh (host)
  • Windows (client) to Macintosh (host)
  • Macintosh (client) to Windows (host)

Windows (client) to Windows (host)

Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection is a proprietary application which can be used to control computers running certain versions of Windows remotely, using a proprietary connection called Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). This option is built into the Windows operating system - no additional software is required.

The host machine must be set to accept these types of connections and not sleep or hibernate in order for Remote Desktop Connections to work best.

Allowing Remote Desktop on Windows (host)

Note: If you are a faculty or staff member at Gustavus, please contact the Technology Helpline regarding your desire to use Remote Desktop. We can make the appropriate changes to the network and your machine to allow off-campus remote access to your computer.

  1. Locate My Computer/This PC either on your desktop or in your Start Menu
  2. Right-click on My Computer/This PC and go to Properties
  3. In the "Remote Desktop/Remote Settings" section, check Allow users to connect remotely to this computer
  4. Click on the Select Remote Users... the button
    • If your account already has access, it will say "user already has access" below the list of users
    • Otherwise, click the Add... button and enter your account name on your local computer and click Ok.
  5. Click Ok
  6. Next, you will need to make sure there is an exception in the Windows Firewall to allow Remote Desktop to function. To do this,Go to the Windows Firewall Control Panel. Allow an app or feature through the Windows Firewall - make sure Remote Desktop is checked.
  7. Click OK.
  8. To connect remotely, you will need to find your computer name or ip address. Right-click on My Computer/This PC and go to Properties. Your computer name should be listed. If you are connecting from off-campus to on-campus, you will need your IP address.

Using Remote Desktop (client)

All current versions of Windows have a built-in Remote Desktop Connection client, which can be found by searching for:Remote Desktop Connection

Microsoft offers a free standalone application client for older versions of Windows (back to Windows 95): Remote Desktop Connection software for Windows.

  1. Launch the Remote Desktop Connection client.
  2. Enter the IP address of the computer that you want to connect to. (i.e. or the name of the computer.
    1. Get your full computer name under Start->Right Click on Computer and select Properties. NOTE: This must be done on the computer you are connecting to. Not the one your are connecting from.
    2. Scroll down to view your full computer name.
  3. Click Connect
  4. When prompted, enter your login credentials (on Gustavus machines - gustavus e-mail username and password) on the computer you're connecting to and click Ok

Macintosh (client) to Macintosh (host)

There are a number of different options and solutions for Macintosh to Macintosh remote control or file access.

File Sharing

You can share the files on your Macintosh to other computers on the network. Please see How to Connect with FileSharing on your Mac.

Screen Sharing

You can share your screen with other Macintosh computers on the network. Please see Share your Screen.

Apple Remote Desktop

Apple Remote Desktop is a proprietary application for remotely controlling Mac OS X machines. Avaialable for purchase from the App Store.

Windows (client) to Macintosh (host)

There are a number of commercially available options for this type of remote control access.

Macintosh (client) to Windows (host)

There are multiple remote control clients for the Macintosh. If you wish to log into a Windows 8 (or better)computer, you must use the Microsoft Remote Desktop Client for Macintosh (available from the App Store -Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection Client.

  1. Enable Remote Desktop on the Windows host -(see above).
  2. Launch Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection Client
  3. Click + to create a new desktop connection. Complete the information, including the host name (ip address).
  4. Select the connection, and click Start.

Virtual Network Computing

Virtual Network Computing (VNC) is a platform-independent remote desktop system, using the Remote FrameBuffer protocol. Several open source and proprietary applications use VNC, including:

  • Apple Remote Desktop 2 (proprietary)
  • RealVNC (proprietary)
  • UltraVNC (open source)
  • TightVNC (open source, but potentially insecure)