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How to use Remote Desktop app to connect to a PC on Windows 10

Windows 10 remote desktop
Windows 10 remote desktop (Image credit: Windows Central)

On Windows 10, the "Remote Desktop" app makes it easy to connect to other computers over the local network and internet. It's also the experience that replaces the built-in legacy "Remote Desktop Connection" feature, which is still available.

The app is user-friendly, but depending on the device you have to connect, the app is only one of the steps since you may have to configure additional settings, including forwarding the appropriate port in the router to connect to another Windows 10 computer. Also, there's a small problem. You can install the Remote Desktop app on any edition of Windows 10. However, the remote desktop protocol (RDP) that allows connections to a device is only available in the Pro edition and business variants of the OS. Windows 10 Home doesn't allow remote connections.

In this Windows 10 guide, we will walk you through the steps to allow remote connections from within the local network or internet and the steps to use the Remote Desktop app to start a remote session.

How to allow remote connections on Windows 10

Remote Desktop makes it easy to connect to other computers. However, the configuration will depend on whether you have to connect over the local network or through the internet.

Enable remote connections on Windows 10

In a local area network (LAN), you only need to enable the option to allow remote desktop connections on your computer. You can complete this task from the Settings app or Control Panel.

Settings app

To enable the Remote Desktop using the Settings app, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on System.
  3. Click on Remote Desktop.
  4. Turn on the Enable Remote Desktop toggle switch.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Confirm button.

Once you complete the steps, remote desktop connections will be allowed on the device. Windows 10 will also add the necessary rules in the built-in Microsoft Defender Firewall. However, you may need to configure the rules manually if you have a third-party firewall.

Control Panel

To enable remote connections on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click on System and Security.
  3. Under the "System" section, click the Allow remote access option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Remote tab.
  2. Under the "Remote Desktop" section, check the Allow remote connections to this computer option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Check the Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication option.
  2. Click the OK button.
  3. Click the Apply button.
  4. Click the OK button.

If you need to configure a remote desktop using an internet connection, continue with the steps below. If you have to connect to another device within the local network, skip to the steps below, and continue with the start a remote desktop connection instructions.

Enable remote connections on router

If the remote connection has to happen over an internet connection, you will also have to configure the router to allow the remote connection. In addition, you will need to know the public address to contact the remote computer.

Configure static IP address on Windows 10

A computer usually receives a dynamic IP address from the DHCP server (router), which means it can change. If you plan to use a remote desktop for a long time, you may want to configure a static IP address to avoid reconfiguring port forwarding on the router when the device changes the network configuration.

Control Panel

To configure a permanent network configuration, use these steps:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click on Network and Internet.
  3. Click on Network and Sharing Center.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Change adapter settings option from the left navigation pane.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Right-click the active network adapter and select the Properties option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Select the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) option.
  2. Click the Properties button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the General tab.
  2. Select the Use the following IP address option.
  3. Specify a local IP address outside the local DHCP scope to prevent address conflicts – for example, 10.1.4.201.Quick tip: Usually, you'll find this information inside the DHCP settings section on the router. Since not every router is created equal, you may need to consult your manufacturer support website for more specific details to find this information. If you're unsure of the configuration you have to use, use your current TCP/IP configuration as a reference, which you can review with the ipconfig /all command in Command Prompt.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Specify a subnet mask for the network (for example, 255.255.255.0), but the system usually fills this information from you based on the "IP address."
  2. Specify the default gateway address, which should be the router's address — for example, 10.1.4.1.
  3. Under the "Use the following DNS server addresses" section, in the "Preferred DNS server" field, specify the IP address of your DNS server, which in most cases is also the address of the router — for example, 10.1.4.1.Quick tip: If you can't connect to the internet, try using one of the Google Public DNS addresses (such as 8.8.8.8) for the "Alternate DNS server" option.
  4. Click the OK button.
  5. Click the Close button.

After you complete the steps, the network configuration will apply, and the IP settings will never change.

Some routers include a feature to make the current TCP/IP configuration static. If you want to use this option, consult your manufacturer support website for specific steps to complete this task.

Identify network public IP address

You will also need the remote network's public IP address to contact the device over the internet.

To determine the IP address assigned by the Internet Service Provider (ISP), use these steps:

  1. Open the web browser.
  2. Visit Bing.com or Google.com.
  3. Search for "What's my IP."
  4. Confirm the public IP address in the first result.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Typically, internet providers also offer dynamic public IP addresses for residential customers, which means that your public IP address may change from time to time.

If you need a more reliable solution, you may want to look into "Dynamic Domain Name System" (DDNS) services (such as DynDNS, OpenDNS, No-IP, or Asus.com for Asus routers), which can track the public IP changes. Alternatively, you can also contact your ISP to request a static IP address, but it might cost you extra since this is typically a feature reserved for businesses.

Configure port forwarding

You must also forward the TCP port 3389 on the router to allow remote connections over the internet to the computer in the local network.

Quick note: The router interface experience can vary depending on the manufacturer. However, you can use these instructions as a reference to configure your router. You can always check the manufacturer support website for more specific details.

To forward a port on your router, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Command Prompt and click the top result to open the app.
  3. Type the following command to check the current TCP/IP configuration and press Enter:ipconfig
  4. Under the "IPv4 Address" field, confirm the device address — for example, 10.1.4.201.
  5. Under the "Default Gateway" field, confirm the device gateway address (the router address) — for example, 10.1.4.1.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Open your preferred browser.
  2. Type the IP address of the router (default gateway) in the address bar and press Enter.
  3. Sign into the router using the correct username and password.Quick tip: If you have never done this, and you are using the router provided by the ISP, you may be able to find the information on a sticker attached to the device.
  4. Open the Port Forwarding settings page.
  5. Confirm that the Port Forwarding service is enabled (if applicable).
  6. Under the port forwarding list, click (in this case) the Add profile button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Create a new port forward with the required information — for example:
    • Service name: (optional) Specify the reference name for the service — for instance, OfficePC Remote.
    • Protocol: TCP.
    • External Port: 3389.
    • Internal Port: 3389.
    • Internal IP Address: Specify the IP address of the computer you're trying to connect — for instance, 10.1.4.100

Open port 3389 on router

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the OK button.

Once you complete the steps, the port will open on the router, allowing remote desktop connections through the internet to that specific device.

How to establish remote desktop connection on Windows 10

After setting up the computer and router, you can initiate a remote connection using the Remote Desktop app on Windows 10.

Install Remote Desktop app

The Remote Desktop app should already be available on Windows 10, but you can always install it from the Microsoft Store.

To install the Remote Desktop app on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Microsoft Remote Desktop app page (opens in new tab).
  2. Click the Get (or Install) button.
  3. Click the Open Microsoft Store button.
  4. Click the Get (or Install) button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Once you complete the steps, open the app from within the Microsoft Store or Start menu.

Start remote desktop connection

To connect to a computer remotely on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open the Remote Desktop app.
  2. Click the + Add button in the top right.
  3. Click the PCs option.

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  1. Under the "PC name" section, specify the TCP/IP address of the remote computer:
    • If the device is inside a private network, enter the local IP address.
    • If the device is in a remote network (via the internet), enter the public IP address.

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  1. Under the "User account" section, click the + (plus) button in the top right.
  2. Confirm the account information to sign into the remote computer:
    • If the remote device is using a Microsoft account, enter that Microsoft account sign-in information.
    • If the remote device uses a local account, enter the local username and password to sign in.

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  1. (Optional) Under the "Display name" section, specify the account settings' name.
  2. Click the Save button.
  3. (Optional) Under the "Display name" section, specify the connection's name — for example, Office PC Remote.
  4. Click the Show more option.
  5. (Optional) Select additional settings as necessary.Quick tip: The additional settings include the option to connect using an admin session, set the remote session resolution, and clipboard, among others. Typically, you don't need to configure these options, and you should only use them depending on the scenario.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Save button.
  2. Under the "Saved Desktops" section, click the connection to start a remote session.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Check the Don't ask about this certificate again option (if applicable).
  2. Click the Connect button.

After you complete the steps, the remote connection should establish without problems if everything has been configured correctly.

If you want to terminate the session, you can close the window, or you can click the three-dotted menu button from the top-middle and then click the Disconnect button.

Change app and connection settings

On Windows 10, the Remote Desktop app allows you to customize various settings, including additional configuration options, and modify existing settings.

Change general settings

To change general settings in the Remote Desktop app, use these steps:

  1. Open the Remote Desktop app.
  2. Click the Settings button in the top right.
  3. Select the user account from the list.
  4. Click the Edit (pen) button to adjust the settings.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Save button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

You can also pre-add additional user accounts (with the plus + button) that you can use later to connect to other devices or as a different user.

The Gateway option allows you to set a gateway server, but you'll rarely need to use this option. Also, the Group option enables you to organize connections into different and more manageable groups.

Change session settings

To change the session settings for Remote Desktop on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open the Remote Desktop app.
  2. Click the Settings button in the top right.

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  1. Turn on or off the Start connections in full screen toggle switch.
  2. Turn on or off the Start each connection in a new window toggle switch.
  3. Use the When resizing the app drop-down menu to choose how the remote desktop session will look as you resize the app. Options available include:
    • Stretch the content, preserving aspect ratio (recommended).
    • Stretch the content.
    • Show scroll bars.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Use the "Use keyboard command with a" drop-down menu to choose whether shortcuts (such as Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V) work only locally or on the remote desktop. Options available include:
    • My local PC only.
    • My remote session when it's in full screen (recommended).
    • My remote session when it's in use.
  2. (Optional) Turn on the Prevent the screen from timing out toggle switch.

Alongside editing the account and session settings, you can also enable the option to show a preview of the remote desktop in the connection, which adds a visual queue to make it easier to find the connection in the app.

Change connection settings

To edit the settings of a remote connection, use these steps:

  1. Open the Remote Desktop app.
  2. Click the menu (three-dotted) button in the connection and select the Edit option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Change the device name, account, and settings as needed.

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  1. Click the menu (three-dotted) button in the connection and choose the Remove option to delete it.
  2. Click the menu (three-dotted) button in the connection, and choose the Pin to Start option to quickly access the remote computer from the Start menu.

Once you complete the steps, the settings will save and apply automatically in the connection.

How to troubleshoot remote desktop connection on Windows 10

Typically, you won't find issues using the Remote Desktop app, but if you cannot connect to a device, you will need to troubleshoot the problem.

Confirm firewall settings

Windows 10 opens the required firewall ports automatically when you configure Remote Desktop, but it might not always be the case. If the connection fails, check the firewall to make sure it's allowing the Remote Desktop service.

To enable remote connections through the firewall on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open the Windows Security app.
  2. Click on Firewall & network protection.
  3. Click the Allow an app through firewall option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Change settings button.
  2. Check the Remote Desktop option and check the options for Private and Public.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the OK button.

If you have a third-party firewall or antivirus, you may want to disable these security applications to check if you can connect. You may need to check the software support website for more specific details to complete this task.

Unblock remote connection port

If the settings are correct, and you still can't connect, there's a chance the internet provider is blocking the remote desktop port for security reasons. In this case, you may want to contact the ISP directly to resolve the issue.

Use IP address, not the PC name

When using the Remote Desktop app, it's better to use the device's IP address instead of the computer name. Otherwise, you may stumble upon some resolution issues.

Also, when adding a new computer, make sure to enter the appropriate IP address. For example, use the local IP address to connect remotely from within the private network and use the correct public IP address to connect over the internet.

Confirm remote desktop service

You may also not be able to connect because the required remote desktop services are not running on Windows 10.

To determine whether the remote desktop service is running on your device, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Services and click the top result to open the app.
  3. Select the Remote Desktop Service and check that the "Status" column reads Running.
  4. If it's not running, right-click the service and select the Start option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

After you complete the steps, you should be able to establish a remote session on Windows 10.

Switch to Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)

Windows 10 can use both networking stacks, IP version 4 (IPv4) and version 6 (IPv6) — also known as dual-stack — but sometimes, it'll choose version 6 for the connection, which may cause problems with the remote desktop protocol (RDP).

To set the IPv4 as the default networking stack on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click on Network and Internet.
  3. Click on Network and Sharing Center.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Change adapter settings option from the left navigation pane.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Right-click the active adapter and select the Properties option.

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  1. Clear the Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6) option.

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  1. Click the OK button.
  2. Restart the computer.

Once you complete the steps, you should now be able to connect using a remote connection.

Use local account instead of Microsoft account

If you try to connect, but the authentication fails, and you are using a Microsoft account, it's probably a problem with the authentication method. For instance, you may encounter issues if the Microsoft account has the two-step verification or passwordless security feature enabled. If this is the case, you may want to consider creating and using a local account for remote access.

To create a local administrator account on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Accounts.
  3. Click on Family & other users.
  4. Under the "Other users" section, click the Add someone else to this PC option.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the I don't have this person's sign-in information option.

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  1. Click the Add a user without a Microsoft account option.

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  1. Confirm the username.
  2. Create a strong password.

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  1. Complete the security questions to allow password reset from the Sign-in screen.
  2. Click the Next button.
  3. Select the newly created account and click the Change account type button.
  4. Choose the Administrator option.
  5. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, you can use the local account information instead of the Microsoft account to connect to a remote desktop session.

We outlined the steps to connect to a device inside a private network and through the internet, but allowing remote desktop connections (mainly through the internet) could be a security risk.

Remember that having the remote desktop protocol enabled and opening ports could allow malicious individuals to gain unauthorized access to the computer. If you need to use this feature, use strong a password, disable the remote desktop service and remove the port forwarding settings from the router when they are no longer needed.

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.

27 Comments
  • Nice explanation. Thanks. Just use teamviewer though.
  • Agree.
  • I guess there's advantage to use an OS-native solution.
  • uninstall windows 10 install windows7 problem solved
  • But teamviewer is not free...?
  • It is free for personal use, although I do think it probably won't be free for much longer.
  • What makes you think so?
  • While I definitely understand the sentiment, living through the LogMeIn transitioning from free to non-free to obnoxiously expensive for more than 2 computers, I would like to give TeamViewer the benefit of the doubt. I support two seniors and two college age kids using TeamViewer and every now and again they would block my account for suspected commercial activity. Every time I reach out to them and explain the situation the account is unlocked. Every time I ask if they would be willing to come up with the reasonable price for the personal use, they keep saying that the personal use is free. <disclaimer>I am the happy user of the free tier of TeamViewer and find it hard to imagine what I would have done with two barely-computer-literate seniors otherwise</disclaimer>
  • Remote Utilities is another option I started using a while back. You can use it for personal or commercial purposes for up to 10 computers at no cost.
  • Thanks for the explanation!
    I've spent countless hours with Microsoft Support trying to get this to work and nobody seemed to know how to do it.
    Can't wait to try this to connect my 950XL on cellular data to my Surface Book on my home network.
    With Continuum, on a big screen, with a keyboard and mouse, this could be the bridge to hold us W10M enthusiasts until Win32 emulation arrives : ]
  • I actually did this back in 2015 with my Lumia 950. I used it to play Civilization 5 on the go since even the touch controls worked through Remote Desktop. (The lag was pretty bad, but it was playable since it's a turn based game.) 4 years later we got xCloud.
  • This is bad advice. You have to be nuts to expose RDP to the internet.
  • VPN then RDP is a better option.
  • Also note that you need Windows 10 Pro to enable remote desktop connections. The normal Windows 10 version doesn't have the option to enable it.
  • Would be worth pointing out that some Windows 10 installations only use the Windows 8.x version of Remote Desktop. I found installing the preview (if it's still up) doesn't have this issue.
  • Two things. First, use your router to set a DHCP reservation instead of manually changing the IP address. Second, don't forward 3389. Use a different port. Then use your router to translate whatever port you use to 3389. Pretty easy to do. To connect, just add a colon and the port number to the IP address or hostname. Example: rdp.mydesktop.com:44503 or X.X.X.X:44503
  • Yes, definitely use a reservation. Even if you do manually put the numbers in you should still note the reservation in your router so that you know it's taken. Using an alternate port still leaves an opening, but at least using one move your port outside of the normally scanned range.
  • Good advice. I prefer to connect with a VPN first, then RDP to my PC.
  • Great article.
    Thanks!
  • Thanks 🙂
  • What if it's a PC which connects through wifi?
  • Still works.
  • Pro tip: If you are remoting from a computer with multiple displays, press the Windows key, type "mstsc /span" (without quotes) and press enter. This runs the desktop version of Remote Desktop and allows you to use all your monitors for display of the remote system.
  • It might be worth mentioning that the Microsoft Store version of the RDP client is unusable on the high-latency/high-packet-drop-rate networks -- use WIN32 version if you find yourself in such environment. It is not that the latter is without its own flaws -- one really wishes that Microsoft makes one client that works well all the time. And yes, the issues with the Store version were reported to Microsoft many times over the years.
  • Or use Google remote desktop in Chrome or new edge browser and you will be setup in 2 min or less.
  • "Makes it easy... user-friendly".. Is Mauro OD on hand sanitizer
  • This is just the most horrible idea I have seen in a while. With the rampant nature of ransomware attacks it is irresponsible to tell people how to open up their PC's to the internet. Rdp is a massive attack vector and should not ever be available to the internet. On a local network it's fine for convenience, but it should not be used as a remote connection solution. Look into teamviewer or anydesk as they have additional layers of security like Google auth, etc. Do not do this.