How to enable Remote Desktop connections to your Windows 10 PC

James Walker

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When you’re working away from your desk, you can gain access to your PC using Windows’ Remote Desktop Connection. With incoming Remote Desktop connections accepted, you’ll be able to remotely use your PC from another device – whether Windows, Mac, iOS or Android. You’ll need Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise to enable this feature.

Begin by opening the Settings app (Win+I keyboard shortcut) and clicking the “System” category. At the bottom of the menu on the left, click the “Remote Desktop” page.

Remote Desktop settings in Windows 10

At the top of the screen, toggle the “Enable Remote Desktop” button to the “On” position. Your PC is now ready to accept incoming connections, although there are some other settings you may want to adjust first. We’ll look at the two checkboxes on the screen to start with.

“Keep my PC awake for connection when it is plugged in” is a convenience function you may want to use. When enabled, Windows will prevent your device from going to sleep while the power is connected. This is so you can always establish a remote connection to the device, even if it would ordinarily have turned itself off.

The second option controls how connections are made when using a private network. When enabled, your PC will make itself discoverable as a remote desktop target to other devices on private networks. If you work across multiple networks, you’ll need to use this with caution if you don’t want others to see your device’s availability.

Remote Desktop settings in Windows 10

The “Advanced settings” link contains guidance on how to adjust more technical aspects of the remote desktop server. Generally, you won’t need to change these when using Remote Desktop in a simple environment. You can refer to the help links for more information on the effects of each option and when it should be used. The settings include changing the server’s port and enforcing Network Level Authentication for enhanced session protection.

You should now be able to connect to your PC from another device on your network. We’ll assume you’re using Remote Desktop Connection on Windows, but you could also connect from Microsoft’s apps for mobile devices.

On your client device, open Remote Desktop Connection from the Start menu. In the connection box which appears, type your computer’s local IP address or hostname (the name displayed on the Remote Desktop settings page). Then, type your Windows username to connect as into the “Username” box (this will be your email address if you’re logged in with a Microsoft account).

Remote Desktop settings in Windows 10 - making a connection

Press the “Connect” button. You’ll be prompted for the password for the username you’re connecting as. This can be saved for future use, so you won’t need to supply credentials again. After a few moments, you should be greeted with the desktop from your remote PC. The quality of your experience will be determined by your network speed.

When connecting to your PC from outside your network (i.e. over the Internet), you’ll need to enable port forwarding in your router. The remote desktop connection port (3389 by default) must be forwarded to the PC you want to connect to. You’ll then be able to use your network’s public IP address in Remote Desktop Connection to connect from anywhere in the world. You should consult your router’s documentation for guidance on how to add port forwarding rules.