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Posted 8 Jul 2013

Expanding the Limits of Remote Desktop

, 11 Jul 2013 CPOL
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How to push Remote Desktop to its limits.


Whether you're a developer, system administrator, IT consultant, or pretty much anyone whose work involves moving between remote sessions during the day, you know how much of a pain that can be.

This article addresses some of these pains.


Like many others, I use Microsoft Remote Desktop quite a lot daily and while I think it's great in terms of speed (you can even pump video kinda sorta), it's awful in terms of usability.

Any half decent remote control solution these days has the ability to do one simple thing, scaling. You'd be hard pressed to both have a decent resolution for your remote session and not have scroll bars, especially on a laptop. And talking about resolutions, you probably noticed that you can't set custom resolutions either.

What you might not know is that Microsoft Remote Desktop supports both but won't let you use any of these options in the UI (because you know, that would be too easy).

Let's see how to do it.

Using the Code

Setting a custom resolution isn't that hard, but you would have to leave the comfort of the UI for the cold dark command line; once there, a simple switch of /w: and /h: will give you your heart's desire. So, if I want to connect to the BatComputer with a resolution of 666x999, you would do as follows:

mstsc /v:BatComputer /w:666 /h:999  

But that's getting there half way, what if you're on your laptop and you want enough real estate to work comfortably without going full screen and without scroll bars (God, I hate scroll bars)? You need scaling.

To do that, you'll have to use the Remote Desktop UI, create and save a .rdp file with whatever settings you want, then open it and add this line:

smart sizing:i:1

Points of Interest

If you would like to further research this topic, the Columbus Remote Desktop open source project ( provides quite a lot of insight and code for that.


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Product Manager Columbus
Russian Federation Russian Federation
My name's Ilya, I currently work as a Project Manager for Microsoft Dynamics implementations but I remain a developer at heart, so I don't miss out on new technologies and opportunities to write some code, or more recently, get involved with robotics.

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