You’re working at one computer in your home or office but need to access another computer to grab a file or open an application. So both computers need to be accessible to you at the same time. What can you do? As long as that other computer is turned on, you can log onto it and control it remotely using the Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) feature in Windows.
Through RDC, you can remotely access multiple computers over the same network. You can also use it to access PCs on different networks via the internet, but that requires some knowledge of firewalls and port forwarding. So in this story, we’ll focus on logging into another PC running on the same network as your current computer. Let’s see how it works.
First, you or someone else will need to physically log onto the remote PC—the PC you want to access from afar. Launch Control Panel. At the Search Control Panel field in the upper-right corner, type the word remote. From the search results, click on the link to “Allow remote access to your computer.”
The System Properties window will pop up. In the Remote tab, look at the section for Remote Desktop and make sure the option for “Allow remote connections to this computer” is enabled. You can also turn on the checkbox for “Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication (recommended).” This isn’t mandatory. But it adds an extra layer of security by requiring authentication from the connecting user, so there’s no reason not to turn it on. Click OK.
Any user who has an administrative account on the remote PC can access it, so the easiest option is to use such an account to log in remotely. Your PC should already have an account with admin rights.
To check this, launch Control Panel. At the Search Control Panel field in the upper-right corner, type the word users. From the search results, click on the link for “User Accounts.” At the window to “Make changes to your user account,” click on the link to “Manage another account.” Look at the accounts listed and see which one is designated as an Administrator.
Now log into the client PC, meaning the PC you wish to use to access the remote computer. Press Win+R. At the Open field in the Run window, type mstsc.exe to launch the Remote Desktop Connection feature. At the RDC window, type the name or IP address of the remote PC in the Computer field. Click on the Show Options button.
Type the username of the admin account you’ll use to log in. Click Connect.
Enter your password when asked and then click OK.
You should now be connected to the remote computer, allowing you to run applications, open and work with files, and use the internet. At the top of the screen is a blue connection bar with various options. That connection bar disappears after a short while, but will reappear if you move your mouse to the top of the screen.
Controls on the left side of the bar let you pin the bar and check the connection speed. Controls on the right side of the bar include a minimize button to reduce the remote window to the taskbar, a Restore Down button to shrink the size of the window, and a Close button to terminate the remote session.
After terminating the session, open RDC again (Win+R > type mstsc.exe in the Run window). Click on the Show options button. You can now tweak some of the settings if you wish. At the General tab, check off the option to “Always ask for credentials” if you don’t want to enter your password each time you connect.
At the Display tab, you can change the size of the remote window from small to large.
At the Local Resources tab, you can configure remote audio settings and choose when to apply Windows key combinations.
And at the Experience tab, you can select your connection speed to control the performance.