How to Use Remote Desktop on Windows 10

Access your PC from anywhere

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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 back in 2001 and, since then, every version of Windows has included Microsoft's Remote Desktop. When used, you are presented with the remote computer's desktop on the physical machine you are currently using.

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 afar, displaying that computer's desktop as if you were sitting at the remote computer.

Computer connected to a network
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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 — for the purposes of this guide, we will show how to set up said software in Windows 10. Additionally, when connecting to a remote computer, the computer must be turned on, have an active network connection, and have the Remote Desktop feature enabled.

How to Use Remote Desktop on Windows 10

To utilize Remote Desktop on Windows 10, we must first 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, we will ensure that your user account has permission to access the computer.

Enable Remote Desktop on Windows 10

  1. Access the Windows Start Menu by clicking the Windows logo in the bottom left corner of your screen.

  2. On the left side of the Windows Start Menu select the Settings button (an outlined gear icon).

  3. In the Windows Settings window, select the System option.

    Windows Settings
  4. 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.

  5. 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
  6. 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, scroll down and click Select users that can remotely access this PC.

  2. The pop-up window will provide a list of the users on the current PC who can utilize Remote Desktop, additionally, 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 in your account to add it to the list —click OK when done.

    Add New User

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

  4. Your account is now able to utilize Remote Desktop on this PC.

Connecting to a Windows 10 Computer with Remote Desktop

Once you have enabled Remote Desktop on your computer, you can then attempt to connect to it from another Windows PC, Mac, Android, or iOS device. If you are connecting to the computer from within the same Wi-Fi network, you will need the computer's IP address — follow our guide on finding your IP address for more information.

If you wish to access the primary computer from outside your Wi-Fi network you will need to use port forwarding on your router to point all incoming Remote Desktop traffic to your computer. If you are unfamiliar with that, check out our comprehensive guide on port forwarding.

Connecting From Another Windows PC

Remote Desktop on PC
  1. Access the Windows Start Menu by clicking the Windows logo in the bottom left corner of your screen.

  2. In the provided search bar, type Remote Desktop Connection and hit Enter.

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

  4. Hit the Connect button.

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

  6. You are now connected to your PC.

Connecting From a Mac

Remote Desktop from Mac
  1. Begin by downloading the Microsoft Remote Desktop 10 application from the Mac App Store.

  2. Open Finder (blue square smiley face) 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 on 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.

  8. You are now connected to your PC.

Connecting From a Mobile Device (Android/iOS)

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

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

  3. Select the (+) 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. Click the Save button.

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

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

  9. You are now connected to your PC.

Troubleshooting Remote Desktop on Windows 10

Having problems connecting to your Windows 10 PC running Remote Desktop? Follow these suggestions to help ensure that your computer and network are properly set up for a connection.

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  • Ensure that Remote Desktop is enabled on your Windows 10 computer by following the steps given above under this guide's Enable Remote Desktop on Windows 10 section.
  • Ensure that your user account has been granted access to Remote Desktop under this guide's Allow Your Account to Use Remote Desktop on Windows 10 section.
  • Ensure that you are entering your computer's correct IP address when attempting to connect — learn more about your IP address here.
  • Ensure that you have port forwarding setup correctly if you are attempting to connect to your Windows PC from outside your WiFi network.
  • Ensure that Windows Firewall is allowing Remote Desktop to communicate properly — check this guide to learn how to allow applications through the Windows Firewall.
  • Ensure that your primary computer is left powered on and connected to a network for Remote Desktop to function.

If you're still having an issue connecting to your Windows 10 computer using Remote Desktop, we suggest either utilizing Microsoft's community forum at the Microsoft Support website or making an appointment with your local Microsoft store.