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If you have tried using keyboard shortcuts in RDP, you would have noticed that they do not work. Find out how to change that in today's article.


Oct, 20

How to use keyboard shortcuts in RDP

The Remote Desktop Protocol is one of the most useful tools built-in into Microsoft Windows operating systems. It allows you to control a remote Windows machine as if it were straight in front of you. There are, however, some caveats you need to keep in mind.  One such thing is the inability to use keyboard shortcuts by default. Although seemingly unimportant, Windows power users will notice the difference immediately.

Luckily, this setting can be changed when establishing a connection. If you wish to keep this setting unchanged, there are also several other methods that can be used to replace the famous CTRL+ALT+DELETE key combo.


Why use the CTRL+ALT+DELETE keyboard shortcut?

Along with CTLR+C and CTRL+V for copy and paste, CTRL+ALT+DELETE is one of the first keyboard shortcuts a new Windows user learns. The main use for it is to open the Task Manager, from which you can terminate and restart tasks & services that are not responding, as well as see the resource usage of your machine and edit what applications are run on startup.

There are, however, other important uses for this shortcut. The menu that it opens also contains options for you to lock the computer (i.e. if you have a password set), switch the user account and sign out of the current user. At the bottom right, you could also change the network you are connected to, access the Accessibility options, and put your computer to sleep, shut it down, or restart it. With all these features available at a click of a few keys, it can be seen how this is one of the most useful keyboard shortcuts.


What is an RDP?

RDP (i.e. Remote Desktop Protocol) is a protocol developed by Microsoft that allows you to remotely access and control a Windows OS machine over the internet. The feature is built-in to Windows operating system, thus it does not require you to install any additional applications and is easy to use. If you want to establish the connection from a non-Windows machine (like Apple’s Mac), however, you will need to install the Microsoft Remote Desktop App.


How to use CTRL+ALT+DELETE in RDP?

Now that you know why use this keyboard shortcut, let us show you how you can use it within an RDP session.

The first method is to enable keyboard shortcuts for RDP connections. To do so, when establishing a connection (Windows key + R, then type mstsc into the Run box and press Enter), click on the Show Options button.

Then navigate to the Local Resources tab.

Under Keyboard you will see “Apply Windows key combinations”. Click on the drop-down menu and select On the remote computer.


Another way to use this shortcut is to use the on-screen keyboard feature within the RDP host.      

Type into the Windows search bar osk and select On-Screen Keyboard. From there you can use all the Windows keyboard shortcuts.


If you are using CTRL+ALT+DELETE to access the Task Manager but want to keep using windows keyboard shortcuts on your computer instead of sending them through to the RDP, there are other ways to do it.


Right Click on Taskbar

When you right-click on the taskbar in windows, one of the options in the newly-opened menu is to open the Task Manager. It can be seen here:


Windows Search

If the RDP host is running Windows 10, you can open the Task Manager by simply typing in Task Manager into the Windows search bar.



Susith Nonis

I'm fascinated by the IT world and how the 1's and 0's work. While I veture into the world of Technology I try to share what I know in the simplest way possible. Not a fan of coffee, a sweet addict and a self accredited 'master chef'.