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How to Use a Remote Desktop Connection on Windows

How to Use a Remote Desktop Connection on Windows

Tom Gerencer
Reading time: 7 minutes
To access files without carrying thumb drives or hard drives back and forth, see how to create a remote desktop connection in Windows.
You can enable a remote desktop to access a second computer from a remote location with Windows 11 and Windows 10. This feature uses the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), which you can access by using the Windows Remote Desktop app.
You can also create a remote connection in four ways, via Settings, Control Panel, PowerShell, or the Command Prompt. Below, you’ll see the steps for each method, plus how to tell your router to let Windows establish a remote connection.
We will also walk you through how to use the MS Remote Desktop software to create the connection once you enable it, and we’ll provide some quick troubleshooting steps in case your setup fails.

How to remote connect with Microsoft Windows

To establish a remote connection in Windows, you need to complete each of these steps:
  1. Use Windows 11 Pro or install the Remote Desktop App in Windows 11 Home or Windows 10.
  2. Tell Microsoft Windows to allow remote desktop connections.
  3. Tell your router to allow remote connections.
  4. Use the Microsoft Remote Desktop app to create the connection.

Step 1: Use Windows 11 Pro or install the Remote Desktop app

All versions of Windows 11 Pro include Windows Remote Desktop. If you use Windows 11 Home Edition or Windows 10 Pro (or Home), you may not have the Remote Desktop app installed. Even so, you can still access Windows 10 remote desktop.
First, check if the app is installed by going to Settings, choosing System, and scrolling down to Remote Desktop.
When you click Remote Desktop, you’ll see options to create a remote desktop connection, or you’ll see a message that says “Your Home edition of Windows 11 doesn’t support Remote Desktop.” If you see that message, follow the steps below to install the Remote Desktop app.
  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. In the search bar, type Store and hit enter.
  3. The Microsoft Store will open. In the store’s search bar, type Remote Desktop.
  4. Select the Microsoft Remote Desktop app.
Use Windows 11 Pro or install the Remote Desktop app
5. Click Get.
6. Follow the steps to install the app.

Step 2: Enable remote desktop connections in Windows (four methods)

First, enable remote desktop setup in Windows by using one of the four methods below:
  1. Settings (easiest)
  2. Control panel
  3. Access the command prompt
  4. PowerShell
Here are the steps for each method to allow remote desktop in Windows:

Method 1: Use settings to allow remote desktop connections in Windows

To create a remote desktop in Windows 11 with your computer’s Settings, follow these steps:
  1. Open the Settings for Windows 11. (It’s the little gear icon at the bottom of the screen.)
  2. Select System.
  3. Scroll down to Remote Desktop.
Use settings to allow remote desktop connections in Windows
4. Toggle Remote Desktop to On.
5. Click Confirm.
You can now connect remotely using the Remote Desktop app.
For a more secure connection, use the option for Network Level Authentication. This security protocol thwarts false connections and certain attacks, such as Denial of Service attacks that can overwhelm a network.
You may also want to check the settings page to document the port your device uses for remote desktop connections. Unless you manually change that port, it should always be “3389.”

Method 2: Use Control Panel to allow remote desktop connections in Windows

Use these steps to create a remote desktop in Windows 11 with your Control Panel:
  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Select System and Security.
  3. Under System, select Allow remote access.
Use Control Panel to allow remote desktop connections in Windows
4. Under Remote Desktop, select Allow remote connections to this computer.
5. Click Apply.
6. Click OK.
You can now connect to your PC remotely from another computer. With the control panel method, Network Level Authentication is required by default for optimal security.

Method 3: Use Command Prompt to allow remote desktop connections in Windows

Here’s how to create a remote desktop in Windows 11 with Command Prompt:
  1. Open Start.
  2. In the search box, type Command Prompt.
  3. Type the command below into the Command Prompt window and press Enter.
reg add "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server" /v fDenyTSConnections /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
Use Command Prompt to allow remote desktop connections in Windows
4. You can also type the following command into the Command Prompt and press Enter to allow a remote desktop connection through your Windows Firewall.
netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group="remote desktop" new enable=Yes
The steps above will turn on remote access so you can use Microsoft remote connect.

Method 4: Use PowerShell to allow remote desktop connections in Windows

Follow these steps to create a remote desktop in Windows 11 with PowerShell:
  1. Open Start.
  2. In the search bar at the top, type “PowerShell” and right-click the first result.
  3. Select Run as Administrator.
  4. Type in the command below to enable remote desktop, then press Enter.
Set-ItemProperty -Path 'HKLM:\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server' -name "fDenyTSConnections" -value 0
5. You can also type the command below to allow remote desktop use through the Windows Firewall.
Enable-NetFirewallRule -DisplayGroup "Remote Desktop"
You’re ready to use the Windows remote access software to create a remote connection, even with a Windows Firewall.

Step 3: Tell your router to allow remote desktop connections

Your router will deny remote desktop connections unless you tell it not to. One of the problems with fixing this is that your router must allow remote connections from the internet via port forwarding, which opens you up to cyber attacks. Another problem is that this requires a long and complex list of steps.
For an easier, more secure way to enable remote connections in your router, Microsoft recommends that you use a VPN. A VPN is a virtual private network, and it shields your privacy and internet connection by creating an encrypted tunnel for your data to travel through.
To use a VPN, you need to use a VPN provider.
VPNs are generally offered as a subscription service, which typically costs $5 to $10 per month. Once you select a VPN provider, follow their steps to set up a VPN with their service on your PC, or go to Settings and search for “Add a VPN.”

Step 4: Use the Remote Desktop App to create a connection in Windows

Once you enable remote desktop access in both your PC and your router, you can open and use the MS Windows Remote Desktop Connection app. You can find the app by opening the Start menu and typing “Remote Desktop Connection” into the search bar.
Use the Remote Desktop App to create a connection in Windows
Once you install the Remote Desktop Connection app, open it and follow these steps to establish a connection:
  1. Click +Add in the top right.
  2. Click PCs.
  3. In the field for PC name, type the remote computer’s network address. (If the computer is on a private network, use that IP address for that network.)
  4. In the User Account section, click the plus sign.
  5. Add the Username and Password for your remote device (or mobile device).
  6. You can also add a Display name if you like.
  7. Click Show more.
  8. Click Save.
  9. In the Saved PCs section, click your new remote connection to open it.
  10. Click Connect.
Your PC will now open a remote desktop connection. To end it, click on the three dots and select Disconnect.

Remote desktop troubleshooting

If you run into trouble while establishing a remote desktop session in Windows, check the following common problems and solutions to fix the issue.

Check your firewall settings

Your system’s firewall may be stopping you from setting up a remote connection. Technically, the remote desktop app should get permission from the firewall, but you can make sure with these steps:
  1. Open the Windows Security app.
  2. Select Firewall & network protection.
  3. Select Allow an app through firewall.
  4. Click Change settings.
  5. Select Remote Desktop, and Private and Public.
  6. Click OK.

Check Remote Desktop Services

On the remote computer:
  1. Open the Start menu.
  2. Search for “Services” and hit Enter.
  3. Click Remote Desktop Service.
  4. If the Status column does not display Running, right-click it and choose Start.

Use the computer’s IP address instead of its name

If you use the computer’s name to connect instead of its IP address, the remote connection may fail. Find the computer’s IP address instead and connect with that.

Check the remote connection port

Your internet service provider (ISP) may block remote connections as a security measure. You can call your ISP to ask if their security protocols may be thwarting your remote connection attempts.

Switch to a local account

Your Microsoft account may block remote connections because of passwordless security or two-step verification. You can use a local account to create the connection and avoid this issue.
  1. Open Settings.
  2. Select Accounts.
  3. Choose Family & other users.
  4. Click Add account.
  5. Select I don’t have this person’s sign-in information.
  6. Click Add a user without a Microsoft account.
  7. Enter the new local account’s name.
  8. Create a password.
  9. Enter the answer(s) to the security question(s).
  10. Click Next.
  11. Click Change account type.
  12. Select Administrator.
  13. Click OK.

Disable TCP/IPv6 addressing

The IPv6 networking stack in Windows 11 may cause connection issues. Here’s how to disable IPv6:
  1. Open the Control Panel.
  2. Select Network and Internet.
  3. Select Network and Sharing Center.
  4. Choose Change adapter settings.
  5. Right-click the connection and click Properties.
  6. Un-check the box for Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6).
  7. Click OK.
  8. Restart your PC.


In today’s remote work world, establishing a remote connection to another PC provides a secure, efficient way to work on data and projects from different locations. Using the steps above, you can tell your PC and router to enable and set up useful remote desktop connections and access files and software from just about anywhere.
About the Author: Tom Gerencer is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Tom is an ASJA journalist, career expert at Zety.com, and a regular contributor to Boys' Life and Scouting magazines. His work is featured in Costco Connection, FastCompany, and many more.

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