Remote Desktop on macOS

So you’ve got a Mac, but you still need to access Windows machines or apps. Not to worry, Remote Desktop on macOS is here to help!

While the long history between Apple and Microsoft is inconsistent at best, they’re very compatible in 2018. It’s very easy to access Windows PCs and Servers from remotely from your mac – and have them operate just like they would as if you were accessing them physically.

It all begins with a quick pop over to the App Store on your where you will want to search for “Microsoft remote”.

You’ll probably be surprised to find that there’s actually two applications.

Good news is – not only are they both free – they both work, and there’s little difference between them. In fact, for basic users only difference they’ll notice is how they look once configured; Version 8 is a basic, easy-to-read list, and in Version 10 you can get a more touch friendly experience with big buttons.

Both apps work well, choose whichever you prefer.
(Version 8 on the left, Version 10 on the right)

 

For users that have already received a pre-configured .RDP file from I.T. – you should be able to double-click it to open it with the app

Now that you’ve acquired the app – there’s some things your I.T. team will need to pre-configure for you, if they haven’t already. After that, we can use all of the details to create the connection ourselves.

To be done by your I.T. team:

  1. Configure the remote connection address (we’ll need that later)
  2. Configure access on the target PC (create or allow access to an account)

After you’ve had the #NerdHerd do their part – we can configure the connection ourselves
(alternately, if you ask your own nerd herd nicely, they might even send you a shortcut and you can exit this guide!)

If you didn’t get a shortcut, and we’re doing it ourselves:

  1. Gather the following information;
    • Remote Connection Address
    • Remote Target Name (PC Name)
    • Username and Password
  2. Open the App
  3. Click ‘+’ symbol in the top left to create a new Desktop connection
  4. In version 10, click “Show More” in the bottom left
  5. Now we can fill in the below information!

 

Connection Name / Friendly Name

This is simply how the name will appear in the list. You can ultimately call it whatever you want to help you remember where it connects you

Gateway

If your I.T. team has confirmed you’ll be going via a Remote Gateway, then choose “Add Gateway” from the list. Here you’ll enter the Server address (often something like remote.companyname.com.au) and a friendly name.

PC Name

If your #NerdHerd have told you this connection is not using a remote gateway – then this is often a a simple IP address (123.456.789.012:3389).

If you’ve already configured a Gateway as above, then you will need to know your server or target PC’s name such as ORG-LAP-001 or ORG-SRV-001. This could also be a plain word such as “remote”.

Username and Password

For a simple setup – this is often an explicit username for the device you’re connecting – but in a larger business environment is likely to be your regular “domain” logon i.e. DOMAIN\Username. Your I.T. team or #NerdHerd should be able to tell you which to use in either case.

Other settings

There are some other unnecessary, but often handy features you can also configure;

  • Resolution – You can choose fullscreen or windowed mode
  • Use all monitors – Without this ticked, you will get a one-monitor experience
  • Printers – You can choose to print from your mac’s printers instead of the remote computer’s remote printers. This is found in the Session tab in v8, or the Local Resources tab in v10.
  • Folders – You can also choose to “share” a folder from your Mac to the windows machine. You may want to share documents or downloads for ease-of use. This is found in the Redirection tab in v8, or the Local Resources tab in v10.