4 Ways to enable Windows Remote Desktop (+ Remotely Enable RDC)

Enable Windows Remote DesktopEnable Windows Remote Desktop

Remote Desktop is a great way to access a computer remotely without physically being there, but it is only possible if you had configured it earlier and anticipated that you would need to access the systems later on. By using Windows Remote Desktop, you will not need to go down to your client’s site each time you need to configure something. Instead, you will be able to access their systems from the comfort of your work environment instead.

This article not only gives you different ways to configure Remote Desktop locally to allow access to the computer but lets you configure it on remote computers even when it is not physically accessible. This will save you the trouble of making unnecessary trips the first time you want to enable the service while physically present on site.

Let us continue to see how you can remotely enable Remote Desktop on another device.

How to remotely enable Windows Remote Desktop

The Windows Remote Desktop feature is disabled by default. If you have not enabled it on your computer and want to enable it remotely, please follow the instructions below.

This can be achieved by using PSExec. PSExec is a utility that runs operations on a remote computer using the command-line. Follow the steps below to enable Remote Desktop on another computer to access it remotely. Note that this may only be accomplished if both the devices are on the same network, which may be through the same domain, or via a VPN.

  1. Download the PsExec package and extract it on your computer.
  2. Launch the Command Prompt with Administrative privileges. Here is a guide on how you can get Command Prompt to always run as an Administrator.
  3. Navigate to the extracted PsExec folder from within Command Prompt and then type in the following command to access the remote computer’s Command Prompt:
    psexec \\computerName cmd
    Replace computerName with the name of the remote computer.
    You will now notice that the directory in the Command Prompt has been changed. This is because the Command Prompt of the remote computer has now been accessed successfully.
    1. Note: If you are prompted with “Access denied,” it is probably because UAC is running on the remote machine. This will need to be deactivated physically from the machine. To deactivate it, navigate to the following location in the Registry Editor from the left pane:
      HKEY_Local_Machine -> Software -> Microsoft -> Windows -> CurrentVersion -> Policies -> System
    2. Now right-click on System, expand New, and then select DWORD (32-Bit) Value.
      new dword 1
    3. Name the new DWORD as LocalAccountTokenFilterPolicy, then double-click it and set its Value Data to 1.
      value data
    4. Now restart the computer.
      Once the computer restarts, try running the above-given command again from the remote computer.
  4. Now, we shall configure the firewall of the remote computer to allow Remote Desktop through it, while keeping it up to protect the computer. Enter the following command:
    netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group=”remote desktop” new enable=Yes
  5. Since you can now access the computer remotely via the command line, we shall make the necessary changes to the System Registries through it as well. Run the following command to enable Windows Remote Desktop by editing the registry:
    reg add “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server” /v fDenyTSConnections /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
  6. Now reboot the remote computer by entering the following command:
    shutdown /r

Wait for the computer to reboot. Once it does, you may connect to it using any one of the following methods:

  • Method 1:
    Download the Microsoft Remote Desktop manager from the Microsoft Store and use it.
  • Method 2:
    Use the built-in Remote Desktop Connection app by entering the following command in Run:
    mstsc -v
    Replace the IP address with the IP address of the computer you are trying to access. When prompted, enter the credentials of your local account.

How to enable Windows Remote Desktop locally

Although enabling the Remote Desktop feature in Windows 10 remotely can save trips to the site, as well as your time, it is not easy for the layman to understand the process entirely. Hence, here are three more ways to enable the feature for those who have physical access to the computer they wish to connect to later, remotely.

Enable Windows Remote Desktop through Settings

The steps are the same that need to be followed; enable the feature and allow the connection through the Windows firewall.

  1. Navigate to the following:
    Start Menu –> Settings –> System –> Remote Desktop
  2. On the right side, Toggle on the slider below Enable remote desktop then click confirm on the confirmation dialog box.
    settings enable
  3. You can now click on Show settings or Advanced Settings to make changes to the settings according to your needs. Here is how you can enable network discovery if turned off.
  4. Now head on to the firewall settings by typing in firewall.cpl in Run.
  5. Click on Allow an app or feature through Windows Defender Firewall on the left.
  6. Now click on Change settings and check the boxes next to the following to allow them through the firewall:
    • Remote Desktop
    • Remote Desktop (WebSocket)
    • Remote Service Management
    • Remote Shutdown
  7. Click on Ok when selected.

You should now be able to access the computer from any remote computer on the network using the local account credentials.

If at any point you wish to turn the feature off, simply navigate back to the Remote Desktop window within Settings and toggle off the slider to disable it.

Enable Windows Remote Desktop through Control Panel

Although Microsoft is planning to kill off the Control Panel altogether, it can still be used to activate remote access to the computer for the time being.

  1. Launch the Control Panel by typing in control in Run.
  2. Click on System & Security, and then click on Allow remote access under System.
    allow remote access CP
  3. In the popup System Properties window, check the box next to Allow remote assistance connections to this computer.
  4. Now select Allow remote connections to this computer. You may check the box below it to have Network Level Authentication.
    check boxes
    Click on Apply and Ok when done.
  5. When done, you must allow Remote Desktop through the firewall, the same as done previously in the firewall settings.

If at any point you wish to disable permissions to connect to this PC remotely, simply navigate back to the Control Panel, click on Allow remote access and uncheck the boxes previously checked.

Enable Windows Remote Desktop through the Command Prompt

You may also enable the Remote Desktop on the local host machine via the Command Prompt. The commands are very similar to the ones used in enabling the Remote Desktop remotely on another computer.

  1. Launch the Command Prompt by typing in cmd in Run.
  2. Enter the following command to edit the System Registry to enable the Remote Desktop:
    reg add "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server" /v fDenyTSConnections /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f
  3. Now allow the Remote Desktop through the firewall the same as done before. You may use the following command to achieve the same task:
    netsh advfirewall firewall set rule group="remote desktop" new enable=Yes
  4. Restart your computer for the changes to take effect.

You have now enabled Windows Remote Desktop on the computer and can access it remotely through any of the two methods discussed earlier.

If you wish to turn the feature off using the Command Prompt, enter the following command, and then reboot the computer:
reg add "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server" /v fDenyTSConnections /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f

Closing words

The mentioned methods can be used to enable Remote Desktop on computers to connect to them whenever required and make the relevant configurations remotely. The most useful feature of all is enabling the Remote Desktop feature on the remote computer if it is not already configured.

This method comes in handy when connecting to computers you did not anticipate connecting to in the future.

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