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How to use Microsoft Remote Desktop on a Windows 11 PC

Here's how to remotely connect to or from a Windows 11 computer.
Written by Lance Whitney, Contributor
Reviewed by Min Shin
Woman working on her laptop at a standing desk with city view in background
Klaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

I have an array of computers scattered around my home and home office that I use for testing and other tasks. 

And when I want to connect to and control one, I typically turn to Microsoft's Remote Desktop.

Now with Windows 11 nestled on a few of my PCs, I need to be able to use the new version of Windows both as a host and as a guest for my remote sessions. 

If you want to connect to or from a Windows 11 computer as well, here are the steps.

Also: Windows 11: Widget updates and more

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. 

Also: The best VPN for Windows PCs

For that, you may or may not be able to use Microsoft Remote Desktop, depending on the rules and requirements of your employer.

1. Enable Remote Desktop

To use your Windows 11 PC as a host so that you're able to connect to it from another computer, you first need to set up remote access. In Windows 11, head to Settings > System > Remote Desktop

Also: How to change your account password in Windows 11

Turn on the switch for Remote Desktop. Note the name of the PC, as you'll need that when you attempt the connection.

Remote Desktop section of Settings

Enable Remote Desktop.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

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.

Adding another user in Remote Desktop section

Add another user.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

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.

Also: Have you upgraded yet? Windows 11 is creeping up

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.

Remote Desktop Connection window

Click the Connect button.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

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.

Option to not be asked for remote connections to this computer

Check the option to not be asked for remote connections to this computer.

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.

3 windows open on desktop

Connect to and control the remote computer.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney

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.

Also: How to downgrade from Windows 11 to Windows 10

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.

General settings for Remote Desktop Connection

Review the general settings.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

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).

Display settings window

Review the display settings.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

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.

Settings for Local Resources window

Review the settings for Local Resources.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

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. 

Also: How to change your username on Windows 11

Leave the two options at the bottom checked.

Settings for Experience window

Review the settings for Experience.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

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.

Advanced settings window

Review the advanced settings.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

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.

Desktop open on Windows 11

Connect to the remote PC.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/ZDNET

Finally, any connection settings you create in Remote Desktop are saved in an RDP file in your Documents folder. 

Also: The 5 best remote desktop software and apps

From the Remote Desktop panel, you can save your latest changes to this file, open the file, or save your changes under a different filename.

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