Access your computer remotely, using remote desktop in Windows
Imagine that you are at work and want to check something on your
home computer, or that you are on a business trip and forgot and
important document on your office PC, or that you are actually at
work (or home) and want to be able to see or control another
computer that is located on another floor (or room).
There are several software products and services that let you do
just that but why pay expensively and/or install bloated software
with unpredictable side effects when there already is such tool
on your Windows XP Pro PC?
Remote Desktop, included with Windows XP Professional, allows you
to connect to your computer across the Internet from almost any
computer, Netbook or Pocket PC. Once connected, you get mouse
and keyboard control over your computer while displaying to you
what's on the remote screen. You can then access all of your
programs, files, and network resources as though you were actually
sitting in front of the remote computer.
To simplify the instructions, this article will focus on connecting
to a remote computer within your local network (LAN). Usually this
means that both the controlling computer and the remote computer
are located in the same building.
In a later article, we will provide instructions for connecting to
a remote computer across the Internet. This will be a bit more
complicated because firewalls, routers and dynamic IP addresses may
For now, let us focus on the local network scenario (simpler and
Preparing The Remote Computer
Before connecting to the remote computer, we need to set it up to
enable remote connection (by default, this feature is disabled for
security reasons,). To accomplish that, follow the following
- Make sure that you are logged in as a user of type Computer
- Right-click My Computer (on the Start Menu) and select
- Click the Remote tab, select the Allow users to
connect remotely to this computer check box, and then click
- Click the Select Remote Users button. This will open
the Remote Desktop Users dialog box in which you can
select which users will be allowed into this computer. You can
allow access for users already defined in the computer
or allow access for yourself only. Note that any member
of the Administrators group can connect (even if it is not listed)
- as long as it is protected by a password.
- If you need to add users other than those on
the Administrators group, Click the Add button.
This will open the Select Users dialog. Once you type a name, click
the Check Names button to verify correct spelling and to
convert it to a fully qualified user name.
- Close all dialogs by clicking on their OK button.
- The computer is essentially ready now to be controlled remotely
(assuming no firewall is blocking access).
- We now need to retrieve the IP address of this remote computer,
so that we can tell the Remote Desktop Connection application where
to connect. Using Control Panel, open Network
- Then, right-click your network connection (Local
Area Connection in this example), select Status menu item,
then click the Support tab
- Write down the address labeled IP Address (typically, on
a local network, it will be of the form 192.168.1.x, but your case
Working from the Controlling Computer (connecting with the
You are now ready to start working from your controlling computer.
To connect your remote computer, follow these steps:
- Click Start, then select All Programs,
Accessories, Communications, and then select
Remote Desktop Connection.
- In the Computer box, type the IP address of your remote
computer (which you wrote down earlier), then click the
- When the Log On to Windows dialog box appears, type your
user name, password (and domain, if required), and then click
- The Remote Desktop window will now open, and you will see your
remote computer's desktop - as if you were sitting in front of
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