How to Use Remote Desktop on Windows 10

Access your Windows computer from anywhere

Windows 10's Remote Desktop feature allows you to connect to your computer from afar using another Windows PC, Mac, iOS, or Android device. You no longer need to physically be in front of your home or office PC to access it thanks to the power and convenience of Remote Desktop.

The information in this article applies to computers running Windows 10.

What Is Remote Desktop on Windows 10?

Remote Desktop was included by Microsoft with the release of Windows XP in 2001 and, since then, every version of Windows has included Microsoft's Remote Desktop. When you activate this program, you'll see and interact with your actual Windows computer remotely.

For example, you may have a Windows 10 computer at your home or office. You can use the Remote Desktop application on another Windows PC, Mac, iOS, or Android device, to connect to your PC from a different location, displaying that computer's desktop as if you were sitting at the remote computer.

Computer connected to a network
Busakorn Pongparnit / Getty Images

What Is Required for Remote Desktop on Windows 10?

To connect to a remote computer, it must be running a version of Windows that includes the Remote Desktop software. Additionally, when connecting to a remote computer, the computer must be turned on, enjoy an active network connection, and have the Remote Desktop feature enabled.

How to Use Remote Desktop on Windows 10

To use Remote Desktop on Windows 10, enable it within the computer's settings; this action will then allow other computers to remotely connect to your computer to gain access. After Remote Desktop is enabled, verify that your user account has permission to access the computer.

Enable Remote Desktop on Windows 10

  1. Press Win+X then select Settings to open Windows Settings.

  2. Select the System option.

    Windows Settings
  3. In the list on the left side of the Windows Settings window, select the Remote Desktop option.

    You may need to scroll down the list to find the Remote Desktop option.

  4. On the right side of the Windows Settings window, ensure that the Enable Remote Desktop toggle is set to On by clicking on it.

    Enable Remote Desktop
  5. When asked to Enable Remote Desktop, select Confirm.

Allow Your Account to Use Remote Desktop on Windows 10

  1. Within the Windows Settings window, under the User accounts section, activate Select users that can remotely access this PC.

  2. The pop-up window provides a list of the users on the current PC who authorized to use Remote Desktop. Directly above the Add and Remove buttons, it will note any allowed Microsoft account that also has access.

    User Access for Remote Desktop
  3. If your Windows or Microsoft account is not listed, click the Add button then type your account to add it to the list — click OK when you're done. Your account is now authorized to use Remote Desktop on this computer.

    Add New User

    Otherwise, you may close the window with the Cancel button.

Connecting to a Windows 10 Computer With Remote Desktop

After you have enabled Remote Desktop on your computer, connect to it from another Windows PC, Mac, Android, or iOS device.

If you connect to the computer from within the same Wi-Fi network, you need the computer's IP address — follow our guide on finding your IP address for more information.

To access the primary computer from outside your Wi-Fi network, use port forwarding on your router to point all incoming Remote Desktop traffic to your computer.

Connecting From Another Windows PC

Remote Desktop on PC
  1. Press Win then type Remote Desktop Connection.

  2. In the Remote Desktop Connection window, type your computer's IP address into the Computer field.

  3. Press the Connect button.

  4. If prompted for your username and password, enter it in the dialog box.

Connecting From a Mac

Remote Desktop from Mac
  1. Download the Microsoft Remote Desktop 10 application from the Mac App Store.

  2. Open Finder from your dock, select the Applications option on the left side of the window, then select and open Microsoft Remote Desktop.

  3. Select the Add Desktop button.

  4. In the Add Desktop window, type your computer's IP address into the PC name field.

  5. Click the Add button.

  6. Double click your newly created remote computer in the Microsoft Remote Desktop window.

  7. If prompted for your username and password, enter it in the dialog box.

Connecting From a Mobile Device (Android/iOS)

Connecting From a Mobile Device (Android/iOS)
  1. Download the Microsoft Remote Desktop application from your respective app store for either iOS or Android.

    Download for:

  2. Open the Microsoft Remote Desktop application on your device.

  3. Select the plus button in the upper right corner.

  4. Select the Desktop option in the Add New menu.

  5. Type your computer's IP address into the PC name field.

  6. Tap the Save button.

  7. Tap your newly created remote computer in the Microsoft Remote Desktop application.

  8. If prompted for your username and password, enter it in the dialog.

Troubleshooting Remote Desktop on Windows 10

Follow these suggestions to help ensure that your computer and network are properly set up for a connection.

  • Verify that Remote Desktop is enabled on your Windows 10 computer.
  • Ensure that your user account has been granted access to Remote Desktop.
  • Double-check your computer's correct IP address.
  • Correctly configure port forwarding for connecting to your Windows computer from outside your local network.
  • Verify that Windows Firewall allows Remote Desktop to communicate properly.
  • Leave your primary computer powered on and connected to a network for Remote Desktop to function.