Weren’t you ever in the situation where you had to spend countless hours on the phone because you just couldn’t understand how a particular computer function works, or to explain to someone how to activate a certain thing? Then you probably weren’t aware of the possibility to control a PC from a distance.
Setting up a remote desktop connection nowadays is a pretty common thing, and comes in handy for presentations, helping someone out, or even performing a different operation on your home PC from your office.
Microsoft has a built-in feature in this regard, which is automatically deployed with Windows, so you don’t spend any more time to add any extra options after installation. However, not everyone is at terms with the tools Microsoft provides by default, and you might want to look for alternatives. Luckily, there are tons of third-party applications aiming to make it easier to connect, but also provide more features than the Windows built-in tool.
The Windows default method
Needless to say that two computers are required for this operation. In addition, the target computer can’t be used while under control, and isn’t even able to display the desktop, because the current user is temporarily logged off. Here’s what needs to be done.
|Enabling remote desktop connection|
Step 1: Move to the target PC (the one you want to connect to), and right-click This PC icon to access Properties.
Note: In case This PC icon is not visible, use Win + S to look for the panel to Show or Hide Common Icons on the Desktop. Access it, and simply tick the Computer box.
Step 2: From the left navigation pane, choose to access Remote Settings.
Alternative access method: Press Win + S and search for the option to Allow Remote Access to Your Computer.
Step 3: Check the option to Allow Remote Assistance Connections to This Computer. Press the Advanced button, and make sure you Allow This Computer to be Controlled Remotely, and press OK to confirm.
Step 4: Now, make sure to Allow Remote Connections to This Computer from the Remote Desktop section of the System Properties panel.
Step 5 (optional): If the current user is not the one you want to use, then press the Select Users button. There, choose to Add, and write down the target user name in the empty text field. You can also Check Names just to be sure it’s the right one, or spelled correctly.
You’re free to have any kind of user controlled from a distance, regardless whether it’s a Microsoft account or a regular one.
|Important Note: In case you don’t have a password set for the user you want to use, an error occurs when trying to connect. An option needs to be disabled, and there are two methods to do this:|
→ use the search utility to Edit Group Policy, or type gpedit.msc in the Run utility.
→ navigate to this location
|Computer Configuration > Windows Settings > Security Settings > Local Policies > Security Options|
→ click on Security Options, and look for the Accounts: Limit local account use of blank passwords to console logon only entry.
→ double-click it and press Disable. Now, hit Apply and OK to confirm.
Not all Windows editions are fitted with the Group Policy editor, but this option can also be disabled through the Registry Editor.
→ launch the Registry Editor by pressing Win + R for the Run utility to come up, searching for regedit.
→ navigate to this location using the left pane
→ click the Lsa key and look for the LimitBlankPasswordUse item in the right pane, and double-click it.
→ change the Value Data field from 1 to 0 (zero). Press OK and close the Registry Editor.
Note: There’s a chance you still get an error message, even if the password limitation feature is turned off. This is because the user is logged off of the target PC, but since there’s no password, it might attempt to automatically log back in. If this happens, simply sign off, and leave the target PC in the login screen.
|Connecting to the target PC|
With everything fully configured, switch your attention to the computer from which you want to connect. It only takes a few, easy steps to get inside the target PC.
Step 1: Press Win + S to look for Remote Desktop Connection, and launch it.
Step 2: Press the Show Options button to expand the main window.
Step 3: In the Log-on Settings section, write down the target PC’s name in the Computer field.
Step 4: Now, write the computer name again in the Username field, add a backslash ( ), and type in the user you want to connect to. In this example, it looks something like this:
|Computer: DESKTOP-N12V7FQ |
Username: DESKTOP-N12V7FQTest subject
Step 5: Press Connect, write down the password if needed, and hit OK. In a couple of seconds, the screen shows the target PC desktop, with the possibility to fully manage it.
Note: Before the connection is established, you’re free to configure additional settings for Display, Local Resources, Programs, Experience, and Advanced.
|Important note: Logging in on the target PC to any user attempts to interrupt the connection. However, the source computer is alerted, with the possibility to completely deny the login request on the target PC, thus keeping the connection active.|
|Connecting with TeamViewer|
|One alternative is the popular application called TeamViewer. It’s even easier to configure than the method found in Windows, doesn’t require the target PC to stand idly by, with the possibility of both computers and users to interact in one common space. All you have to do is grab the application, install the host and the main component on PCs correspondingly, and simply punch in the connection code and password.|
A few last words
All in all, controlling a PC from a distance has its benefits, especially when the individual at the other end is capable of watching you perform a specific operation that he might not be completely aware how. There are even some browser extensions you can try your luck with, as well as tons of other remote utilities.