How to Enable a Remote Desktop Connection in Windows 7

By Maxwell Gladstone

You can control your computer from a remote location with Windows 7's integrated Remote Desktop utility. When using Remote Desktop, you see and interact with the remote computer as if you were sitting in front of it. Music and sounds on the remote machine also play locally when connected. By default, Remote Desktop comes disabled. While any version of Windows 7 can connect to a Remote Desktop server, according to Microsoft, only Windows 7 Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise can act as Remote Desktop servers. If you are using Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic or Home Premium, you cannot host a Remote Desktop session; you may only connect to one.

Enable Remote Desktop

Step 1

Click the "Start Menu" button with your mouse or hit the Windows key on your keyboard.

Step 2

Right-click on the item labeled "Computer" and then click on "Properties" at the bottom of the list. This brings you to a page with basic information about your computer.

Step 3

Make a note of the "Computer name" under the right column of the basic information page listed under "Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings." You will need this if you want to connect over the local area network. If you want to connect over the Internet, refer to your router and its manual for your IP address and how to enable port forwarding to this computer for Remote Desktop's port 3389.

Step 4

Click "Remote settings" on the left column of the basic information page. A window appears with two sections: "Remote Assistance" on the top section and "Remote Desktop" on the bottom section.

Step 5

Choose either the second or the third option, titled "Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop (less secure)" or "Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication (more secure)," respectively. The decision for more or less security is up to you.

Test the Connection

Step 1

Switch to another Windows 7 computer connected to the network or the Internet.

Step 2

Click the "Start Menu" button with your mouse or hit the Windows key on your keyboard.

Step 3

Click "All Programs," then "Accessories" and then choose the program "Remote Desktop Connection." The Remote Desktop Connection client utility will then appear.

Step 4

Type the computer name or IP address from the previous section into the Remote Desktop Connection client.

Step 5

Hit the "Connect" button to connect to the remote computer.