Remote Desktop Connection lets you log into and work on another computer over the network, in a way that’s similar to sitting directly in front of it. The major difference is that the remote computer’s “display” is inside a window of your local computer. It’s also possible to make this window full screen to more closely simulate direct access.
Once you’ve established a connection, you can launch programs, explore files on your hard disk or network drives, or use printers available to the remote computer.
Installation and Setup
On Windows computers, Remote Desktop Connection comes standard; look in the Start Menu, then All Programs, then in Network and Internet (on public computers) or in Accessories.
On Macintosh, Remote Desktop Connection is installed with Microsoft Office in the Applications folder, or you can get it online here.
Connecting to a Remote Computer
On either Windows or Macintosh, if you are off-campus you must first establish a VPN connection before you can connect to a remote computer.
In a Windows-to-Windows connection, the remote computer can be referenced by the name assigned to the computer if it’s part of the amherst.edu domain. If the remote computer has an Internet domain name assigned to it, that can be used to reference it, e.g. romulus.amherst.edu. Any remote computer can be referenced by its IP address, e.g. 22.214.171.124.
Working with a Remote Computer
When Remote Desktop is active, almost every mouse movement, mouse click, and keystroke you perform is transmitted to the remote computer. The one exception is keyboard sequences such as CTRL+ALT+ DEL. Those sequences effect only the local computer. With Remote Desktop, you need to use alternate ways to get to the functions accessed via CTRL+ALT+DEL. For example, to log off or restart a remote Windows computer you can go through the Start menu; to get to the Task Manager, right-click on the Taskbar and select Task Manager. If the remote computer is a Mac, use the Apple menu to Force Quit and Shut Down as needed.
Important: To end a Remote Desktop Connection session, log out as you normally would from a local computer; if you don’t, your remote session will remain active until the next time you log in, when you will reconnect to it!
Extra Important: If you are using any license-manager controlled software on the remote computer, e.g. Mathematica or Matlab, they will also remain active and using up a license if you don’t quit them or log out before shutting down Remote Desktop Connection!
When using Remote Desktop Connection in full-screen mode, almost every aspect of the interface you see are those of the Windows or Mac computer to which you've connected. You can easily switch back and forth between the remote computer and your local computer or device.
On Windows, there will be a gray trapezoid at the top of the screen that provides local control of Remote Desktop Connection. Simply click on the Minimize button to reveal your local computer. To show the remote computer in a movable window, click the resize button.
On Macintosh, you can hide the Remote Desktop Connection window with Command-H, and click on its icon in the dock to bring it to the foreground again. To show the remote computer in a movable window, press Command-2.
Most peripherals connected to your local computer or if applicable mobile device are not available through Remote Desktop Connection. The exception is local printers. When using Remote Desktop Connection, you can print files located on the remote computer to a printer attached to your local computer or mobile device.
If using a Remote Desktop Connection app, use the Help feature provided with the app to answer specific questions about that app's menu and functions.