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Remote Desktop Hacks

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I’m a heavy user of RDP (Remote Desktop, a.k.a. Terminal Services). I don’t remember how I ever got any work done before this technology existed. What follows are some miscellaneous tips.

To login to the console session on a Windows 2003 machine, start the Remote Desktop application from the command line with /console. You can also shadow a console session, so a person physically at the machine can interact with the session, too. See: How to Connect to and Shadow the Console Session with Windows Server 2003 Terminal Services. There is also an interesting but Rube Goldbergian trick I’ve never tried: How To Shadow a Remote Desktop Session in Windows XP Professional.

If you save connection settings in an .rdp file, you can add “connect to console:i:1” to make the console session preference permanent. This page extensively documents other .rdp file parameters.

When RDP misbehaves, qwinsta and rwinsta are available for remote management of sessions. Scott Forsyth has a nice write-up on how to use these tools: Managing Terminal Services Sessions Remotely.

When I connect to a Windows XP machine using RDP, the system replaces the “Turn Off Computer” button in the start menu with “Disconnect”. If I want to remotely power down the machine or reboot, I turn to the command line utility TSSHUTDN.

To connect to a Windows machine from a *nix machine I’ve used rdesktop successfully.

When paranoid, I change the default listening port for RDP on some of my machines.

Finally, some shortcut keys I commonly use:

ALT + PAGE UP replaces ALT+TAB to “tab” through running applications in the RDP window.
CTRL + ALT + + (numeric keypad plus) takes a screen print of the remote desktop (just like using PrintScrn on a local computer).
CTRL + ALT + - (numeric keypad minus) takes a screen print of the active window inside the RDP window (just like using ALT+PrintScrn on the desktop).

Any tips you want to share?