Thursday, November 08, 2007

Fixing a broken Windows XP Remote Desktop Connection install

This was so much harder than it should have been.

My home copy of XP Pro no longer had a Program shortcut to Remote Desktop Connection. It wasn't in Programs\Accessories\Communications or anywhere else I could find.

On the other hand RDC was installed. I tried reinstalling from the XP CD (see help for XP) but it said a newer version was already in place.

I tried looking for a way to uninstall RDC thinking I could then reinstall and retrieve my shortcut - I couldn't find any way to do that.

I tried searching my hard drive for the file and navigating windows folders, but I couldn't find it.

Eventually I found Remote Desktop Connection (Terminal Services Client 6.0) for Windows XP (KB925876) and installed that. It went well, but it didn't create a favorite/shorcut!

Well, it turns out that c:\windows\system32\mstsc.exe is the remote desktop client (tsc probably stands for terminal server client).

Isn't that pretty bloody obscure.

So I created a shortcut to that and now everything is fine. Presumably I accidentally deleted the original when cleaning up my start folders (specifically, I moved a lot of stuff out of the "all users" folder to protect it from the children).

How did I figure this one out? I had to find another XP machine and identify where the shortcut went on that machine. There was no other way.

Incidentally, mstc.exe has some very obscure command line options:

ConnectionFile : Specifies the name of an .rdp file for the connection.

/v:server : Specifies the remote computer to which you want to connect.

/console : Connects to the console session of the specified Windows 2000 Server.

/f : Starts Remote Desktop connection in full-screen mode.

/w:width /h:height : Specifies the dimensions of the Remote Desktop screen.

/edit : Opens the specified .rdp file for editing.

Remarks ...

.rdp files are stored for each user as hidden files in My Documents.
When I use RDC on a dual monitor setup, full screen mode is limited to the size of my primary monitor. I wonder if I could use the /w and /h options to set it to the size of my larger secondary monitor ...


Anonymous said...

You are a god... thank you sooo much for your unintentional help... im crying with joy at not having to go to work to.....well... work.. lol... again thanks.


Anonymous said...

If you'd like to use the Remote Desktop Client with a dual monitor setup, the latest version (RDC6.0) supports another command line switch "/span" which will span your dual monitor setup. Simply execute the client from the Run dialogue box (Start --> Run) and type "mstsc.exe /span" (or "mstsc /span") without "s of course. This will allow the client to span both of your monitors. Personally I find this to be a little annoying, I prefer to use the client on the 2nd monitor only so I can retain my desktop on monitor 1 and use the programs bar to navigate between multiple RDC windows and other things like web pages etc.

JGF said...

Great comment on the "span" option. I'll give it a try!

Eunice said...

Thank you so much! u save me! I desperately need REmote desktop to do my project. U are wonderful!