Use the Remote Desktop Windows universal app to connect to remote PCs

Remote Desktop is a free Universal Windows App, available through the Windows Store and it was developed by Microsoft for Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile users. The app itself is very useful when you need remote access to another Windows computer or device, as it works both with devices available in your network and devices with public IP addresses that are accessible from the Internet. Here's how to use it in Windows 10 and Windows 8.1 to work with remote computers and devices.

How to install the Remote Desktop app

The Remote Desktop app is not installed by default in Windows 10 or Windows 8.1, so you need to install it manually. To do that, first log on with your Microsoft account and open the Windows Store .

Then, type “remote desktop” in the Windows Store search box and click or tap the Remote Desktop app in the list of results.

Next, click or tap Install and the app will be installed in a few moments, depending on the speed of your internet connection.

How to start the Remote Desktop app in Windows 10

The fastest way to open anything in Windows is to use the search feature. That goes for the Remote Desktop app too: type remote in Cortana’s search field from the taskbar, and then click or tap on Remote Desktop.

If you’re a traditionalist, you might prefer using the Start Menu in order to launch the Remote Desktop app. Click or tap on the Start Menu icon, open the All apps list and scroll until you find the shortcut for Remote Desktop. Then click or tap on it.

When you first launch the app you can see a screen informing you of what you can do with the app.

How to start the Remote Desktop app in Windows 8.1

If you don't have a tile for the Remote Desktop app on the Start screen, the easiest way to open it is by going to the Start screen and typing “remote” . Then, click or tap on the Remote Desktop app from the results list.

Another way of opening Remote Desktop is through the Apps view : go to the Start screen and slide upwards to access the Apps view. If you are using a mouse, go to the Start screen and move the cursor to the bottom left corner of the screen, just below the last tile on the first column. Click or tap the down facing arrow icon to display the app list. Then, click or tap the Remote Desktop shortcut in the Productivity category.

How to connect to another Computer or device from the Remote Desktop app

IMPORTANT : You can initiate a remote connection from devices running any edition of Windows 10 or Windows 8.1, including Windows RT. However, you can connect remotely only to computers or devices that are running one of the operating systems in the list below:

  • Windows XP Professional
  • Windows Vista Enterprise
  • Windows Vista Business
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Windows 7 Professional
  • Windows 7 Ultimate
  • Windows 8 Enterprise
  • Windows 8 Pro
  • Windows 8.1 Enterprise
  • Windows 8.1 Pro
  • Windows 10 Enterprise
  • Windows 10 Pro

You cannot connect to Mac OS X or Linux computers.

To connect to a remote computer using this app, you first need to set up that computer so that it allows remote connections to it. For detailed instructions on how to do this, read our dedicated article: How to enable remote desktop connections in Windows.

To connect to the remote computer, launch the Remote Desktop app and enter the full name of the target computer or its IP address into the text field from the bottom of the screen. Then, click or tap Connect .

If you typed the name of the target computer correctly, the app connects to it and asks you for the credentials. Type the credentials of the device you are connecting to and press OK .

Next, you may be informed whether the connection is certified by a trusted authority or not. To start the remote connection, click or tap Connect anyway .

You will then be connected to the remote computer or device and you can see its Desktop , if you are connecting to a PC with Windows 10, Windows 7 or earlier, or the Start screen, if you are connecting to as device with Windows 8 or 8.1.

How to configure the settings of the Remote Desktop app

The Remote Desktop app includes some useful settings that you can configure for every remote connection. To access the connection settings in Windows 10, click or tap on the 3 line icon from the top left corner of Remote Desktop to open the app’s menu, and then click or tap on Settings .

In Windows 8.1 , bring up the charms and click or tap Settings .

Then, select Connection Settings .

In the Connection Settings pane you have access to plenty of options: you can choose whether to enable visual effects or not , you can choose to use the printers or microphones connected to your device while you are working on a remote computer or device.

If you are trying to connect to a computer that is behind a gateway server, you can type the gateway server address in the dedicated field so that you can remotely connect to the target computer.

Additionally, you can choose to display thumbnails of recent desktops on the home screen and modify the speed of the touch pointer.

How to open multiple remote connections in the Remote Desktop app

The app allows you to connect to multiple computers or devices remotely. To do this while you are in an existing remote connection, click or tap the app's remote device indicator at the top of your screen. Alternatively, you can swipe up from the bottom edge of your touch screen. The app's options are now displayed.

To add another connection, click or tap the “Connect to another PC” button in the upper side of the screen. You can see the active remote connections on the same area and switch between them by tapping them.

Once you click or tap the “Connect to another PC” button, you are taken to the home screen of the app and you can type in a new computer or device name to connect to. You can then follow the procedure from the previous section to connect to a different computer or device.

How to use the contextual options available in the Remote Desktop app

When you connect to a Windows 10 or Windows 7 computer or device, you will see that the options of the Remote Desktop app also include a Home button that takes you to the home screen of the app, a Connection button that tells you how good the connection between your Windows computers or devices is, and a Zoom button that you can use if the resolution of the target computer or device is too big and you cannot read the text.

When you connect to a Windows 8 or 8.1 computer or device, you can see that the options of the Remote Desktop app include a Start button that takes you to the Start screen, a Switch apps button that displays the App switcher , an App commands button that displays the contextual menu in the app that you have opened and a Charms button that brings up the charms.

Conclusion

Now that you've learned the basics of using the Remote Desktop Windows universal app, give it a try and let us know what you think. Does it offer everything you need? Did you come across any issues while using it? Let us know using the comments form below.