Why you can trust ZDNET
:ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
How to use Microsoft Remote Desktop on a Windows 11 PC
Before you get started, be aware that Remote Desktop works only with Windows 11 Pro and Enterprise. Sorry, but the tool is not available on Windows 11 Home.
Also, I'm covering the process from the point of view that your host and guest PCs are both on the same home or home office network. If you need to use Remote Desktop to connect to a PC over the internet, such as from a home PC to a work PC, you'll likely be using a VPN or secure gateway to allow and secure the connection.
Turn on the switch for Remote Desktop. Note the name of the PC, as you'll need that when you attempt the connection.
2. Grant access to remote users
By default, you'll log in to your Windows 11 computer using whatever admin account is set up, likely your own account. But if you need to grant access to other accounts, click the option for Remote Desktop users.
Click Add to add another account. At the Select Users window, type the name of the account you want to add, and then click Check Names. Click OK and then OK again. You'll now be able to sign in with that account when you connect remotely to this PC.
Connect from a guest computer
You can remotely connect to your Windows 11 PC from a variety of operating systems and devices -- not just any Windows PC, but a Mac, an iPhone or iPad, or an Android device. You'd just need to download and install the Microsoft Remote Desktop app for your respective OS or device. For this scenario, let's assume you're connecting from another Windows PC.
Open the Remote Desktop tool on your guest PC. In Windows 10, you'll find its shortcut in the Windows Accessories folder from the Start menu. In Windows 11, it's located in the Windows Tools folder from the All Apps screen. If you have trouble finding it, just click the Search icon, start typing Remote Desktop, and click the result for Remote Desktop Connection.
Type the name of your Windows 11 PC in the Computer field. Click the button for Show Options. If needed, type the username of the account on the remote Windows 11 PC that you wish to use. Check the box for Always ask for credentials if you want to enter your password each time you connect to this PC as a security measure. When ready, click Connect.
Type the password for the account. The first time you connect to a computer, a notification pops up telling you that the identity of the remote computer could not be identified. You're asked if you want to connect anyway. Check the box for Don't ask me again for connections to this computer. Click Yes.
You should then be connected to the remote Windows 11 computer. At the top of the screen will be a blue connection bar with different options. You can pin the bar in place and check the connection speed with the icons on the left side. The options on the right let you minimize the remote window to the taskbar, change the window size, and terminate the remote session.
Use Windows 11 as a guest
To connect to another computer using your Windows 11 PC as the guest, make sure the remote PC is set up to accept a Remote Desktop connection. On your Windows 11 computer, launch the Remote Desktop tool from the Windows Tools folder at the All Apps screen.
Before you connect, you can tweak certain settings for your remote session. At the Remote Desktop Connection window, click the button for Show Options. At the General tab, add the username if needed and check or uncheck the option for Always ask for credentials.
Next, click the Display tab. Here, you're able to adjust the size of the remote desktop window and use all of your monitors for the remote session if you have a multi-monitor setup. You can also choose the color depth of the remote session and opt to display the connection bar when you connect to the remote PC using the full screen (normally the connection bar disappears when you're in full screen mode).
Click the Local Resources tab to determine whether certain resources are available on the host or on the guest. In the Remote audio section, click the Settings button and then set whether audio playback and recording will be accessible on this computer or on the remote one. Click OK. In the Keyboard section, set which computer will accept Windows shortcut combinations. And in the Local device and resources section, choose which resources you want to have available on the remote PC.
Click the Experience tab. Select the dropdown menu under Performance and you can set the speed of your connection to determine the overall performance; otherwise, leave the setting as is to detect the connection automatically.
Next, click the Advanced tab. The settings here apply if you're connecting through a secure gateway. The information you add here would typically be provided to you by your employer or business.
Click the Connect button to connect to the remote PC. The connection bar appears at the top with options to pin the bar in place, check the connection speed, minimize the remote window to the taskbar, change the window size, and terminate the remote session.
Finally, any connection settings you create in Remote Desktop are saved in an RDP file in your Documents folder.