Use features of the Remote Desktop client for Windows when connecting to Azure Virtual Desktop

Once you've connected to Azure Virtual Desktop using the Remote Desktop client, it's important to know how to use the features. This article shows you how to use the features available in the Remote Desktop client for Windows. If you want to learn how to connect to Azure Virtual Desktop, see Connect to Azure Virtual Desktop with the Remote Desktop client for Windows.

You can find a list of all the Remote Desktop clients at Remote Desktop clients overview. For more information about the differences between the clients, see Compare the Remote Desktop clients.

Note

Your admin can choose to override some of these settings in Azure Virtual Desktop, such as being able to copy and paste between your local device and your remote session. If some of these settings are disabled, please contact your admin.

Refresh or unsubscribe from a workspace or see its details

To refresh or unsubscribe from a workspace or see its details:

  1. Open the Remote Desktop application on your device.

  2. Select the three dots to the right-hand side of the name of a workspace where you'll see a menu with options for Details, Refresh, and Unsubscribe.

    • Details shows you details about the workspace, such as:
      • The name of the workspace.
      • The URL and username used to subscribe.
      • The number of desktops and apps.
      • The date and time of the last refresh.
      • The status of the last refresh.
    • Refresh makes sure you have the latest desktops and apps and their settings provided by your admin.
    • Unsubscribe removes the workspace from the Remote Desktop client.

User accounts

Manage user accounts

You can save a user account and associate it with workspaces to simplify the connection sequence, as the sign-in credentials will be used automatically. You can also edit a saved account or remove accounts you no longer want to use.

User accounts are stored and managed in Credential Manager in Windows as a generic credential.

To save a user account:

  1. Open the Remote Desktop app on your device.

  2. Double-click one of the icons to launch a session to Azure Virtual Desktop. If you're prompted to enter the password for your user account again, enter the password and check the box Remember me, then select OK.

To edit or remove a saved user account:

  1. Open Credential Manager from the Control Panel. You can also open Credential Manager by searching the Start menu.

  2. Select Windows Credentials.

  3. Under Generic Credentials, find your saved user account and expand its details. It will begin with RDPClient.

  4. To edit the user account, select Edit. You can update the username and password. Once you're done, select Save.

  5. To remove the user account, select Remove and confirm that you want to delete it.

Display preferences

Display settings for each remote desktop

If you want to use different display settings to those specified by your admin, you can configure custom settings.

  1. Open the Remote Desktop application on your device.

  2. Right-click the name of a desktop or app, for example SessionDesktop, then select Settings.

  3. Toggle Use default settings to off.

  4. On the Display tab, you can select from the following options:

    Display configuration Description
    All displays Automatically use all displays for the desktop. If you have multiple displays, all of them will be used.

    For information on limits, see Compare the features of the Remote Desktop clients.
    Single display Only a single display will be used for the remote desktop.
    Select displays Only select displays will be used for the remote desktop.

    Each display configuration in the table above has its own settings. Use the following table to understand each setting:

    Setting Display configurations Description
    Single display when in windowed mode All displays
    Select displays
    Only use a single display when running in windows mode, rather than full screen.
    Start in full screen Single display The desktop will be displayed full screen.
    Fit session to window All displays
    Single display
    Select displays
    When you resize the window, the scaling of the desktop will automatically adjust to fit the new window size. The resolution will stay the same.
    Update the resolution on resize Single display When you resize the window, the resolution of the desktop will automatically change to match.

    If this is disabled, a new option for Resolution is displayed where you can select from a pre-defined list of resolutions.
    Choose which display to use for this session Select displays Select which displays you want to use. All selected displays must be next to each other.
    Maximize to current displays Select displays The remote desktop will show full screen on the current display(s) the window is on, even if this isn't the display selected in the settings. If this is off, the remote desktop will show full screen the same display(s) regardless of the current display the window is on. If your window overlaps multiple displays, those displays will be used when maximizing the remote desktop.

Input methods

You can use touch input, or a built-in or external PC keyboard, trackpad and mouse to control desktops or apps.

Use touch gestures and mouse modes in a remote session

You can use touch gestures to replicate mouse actions in your remote session. If you connect to Windows 10 or later with Azure Virtual Desktop, native Windows touch and multi-touch gestures are supported.

The following table shows which mouse operations map to which gestures:

Mouse operation Gesture
Left-click Tap with one finger
Right-click Tap and hold with one finger
Left-click and drag Double-tap and hold with one finger, then drag
Right-click Tap with two fingers
Right-click and drag Double-tap and hold with two fingers, then drag
Mouse wheel Tap and hold with two fingers, then drag up or down
Zoom With two fingers, pinch to zoom out and move fingers apart to zoom in

Keyboard

There are several keyboard shortcuts you can use to help use some of the features. Some of these are for controlling how the Remote Desktop client displays the session. These are:

Key combination Description
CTRL+ALT+HOME Activates the connection bar when in full-screen mode and the connection bar isn't pinned.
CTRL+ALT+PAUSE Switches the client between full-screen mode and window mode.

Most common Windows keyboard shortcuts, such as CTRL+C for copy and CTRL+Z for undo, are the same when using Azure Virtual Desktop. There are some keyboard shortcuts that are different so Windows knows when to use them in Azure Virtual Desktop or on your local device. These are:

Windows shortcut Azure Virtual Desktop shortcut Description
CTRL+ALT+DELETE CTRL+ALT+END Shows the Windows Security dialog box.
ALT+TAB ALT+PAGE UP Switches between programs from left to right.
ALT+SHIFT+TAB ALT+PAGE DOWN Switches between programs from right to left.
WINDOWS key, or
CTRL+ESC
ALT+HOME Shows the Start menu.
ALT+SPACE BAR ALT+DELETE Shows the system menu.
PRINT SCREEN CTRL+ALT++ (plus sign) Takes a snapshot of the entire remote session, and places it in the clipboard.
ALT+PRINT SCREEN CTRL+ALT+- (minus sign) Takes a snapshot of the active window in the remote session, and places it in the clipboard.

Note

Keyboard shortcuts will not work when using Remote Desktop or RemoteApp sessions that are nested.

Keyboard language

By default, remote desktops and apps will use the same keyboard language, also known as locale, as your Windows PC. For example, if your Windows PC uses en-GB for English (United Kingdom), that will also be used by Windows in the remote session.

You can manually set which keyboard language to use in the remote session by following the steps at Managing display language settings in Windows. You might need to close and restart the application you're currently using for the keyboard changes to take effect.

Redirections

Folder redirection

The Remote Desktop client can make local folders available in your remote session. This is known as folder redirection. This means you can open files from and save files to your Windows PC with your remote session. Redirected folders appear as a network drive in Windows Explorer.

Folder redirection can't be configured using the Remote Desktop client for Windows. This behavior is configured by your admin in Azure Virtual Desktop. By default, all local drives are redirected to a remote session.

Redirect devices, audio, and clipboard

The Remote Desktop client can make your local clipboard and local devices available in your remote session where you can copy and paste text, images, and files. The audio from the remote session can also be redirected to your local device. However, redirection can't be configured using the Remote Desktop client for Windows. This behavior is configured by your admin in Azure Virtual Desktop. Here's a list of some of the devices and resources that can be redirected. For the full list, see Compare the features of the Remote Desktop clients when connecting to Azure Virtual Desktop.

  • Printers
  • USB devices
  • Audio output
  • Smart cards
  • Clipboard
  • Microphones
  • Cameras

Update the client

By default, you'll be notified whenever a new version of the client is available as long as your admin hasn't disabled notifications. The notification will appear in the client and the Windows Action Center. To update your client, just select the notification.

You can also manually search for new updates for the client:

  1. Open the Remote Desktop application on your device.

  2. Select the three dots at the top right-hand corner to show the menu, then select About. The client will automatically search for updates.

  3. If there's an update available, tap Install update to update the client. If the client is already up to date, you'll see a green check box, and the message You're up to date.

App display modes

You can configure the Remote Desktop client to be displayed in light or dark mode, or match the mode of your system:

  1. Open the Remote Desktop application on your device.

  2. Select Settings.

  3. Under App mode, select Light, Dark, or Use System Mode. The change is applied instantly.

Views

You can view your remote desktops and apps as either a tile view (default) or list view:

  1. Open the Remote Desktop application on your device.

  2. If you want to switch to List view, select Tile, then select List view.

  3. If you want to switch to Tile view, select List, then select Tile view.

Enable Windows Insider releases

If you want to help us test new builds before they're released, you should download our Insider releases. Organizations can use the Insider releases to validate new versions for their users before they're generally available.

Note

Insider releases shouldn't be used in production.

Insider releases are made available in the Remote Desktop client once you've configured the client to use Insider releases. To configure the client to use Insider releases:

  1. Add the following registry key and value:

    • Key: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\MSRDC\Policies
    • Type: REG_SZ
    • Name: ReleaseRing
    • Data: insider

    You can do this with PowerShell. On your local device, open PowerShell as an administrator and run the following commands:

    New-Item -Path "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSRDC\Policies" -Force
    New-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MSRDC\Policies" -Name ReleaseRing -PropertyType String -Value insider -Force
    
  2. Restart your local device.

  3. Open the Remote Desktop client. The title in the top left-hand corner should be Remote Desktop (Insider):

    A screenshot of the Remote Desktop client with Insider features enabled. The title is highlighted in a red box.

If you already have configured the Remote Desktop client to use Insider releases, you can check for updates to ensure you have the latest Insider release by checking for updates in the normal way. For more information, see Update the client.

Admin management

Enterprise deployment

To deploy the Remote Desktop client in an enterprise, you can use msiexec to install the MSI file. You can install the client per-device or per-user by running the relevant command from Command Prompt as an administrator:

  • Per-device installation:

    msiexec /i <path to the MSI> /qn ALLUSERS=1
    
  • Per-user installation:

    msiexec /i <path to the MSI> /qn ALLUSERS=2 MSIINSTALLPERUSER=1
    

Update behavior

You can control notifications about updates and when updates are installed. The update behavior of the client depends on two factors:

  • Whether the app is installed for only the current user or for all users on the machine

  • The value of the following registry key:

    • Key: HKLM\Software\Microsoft\MSRDC\Policies
    • Type: REG_DWORD
    • Name: AutomaticUpdates

The Remote Desktop client offers three ways to update:

  • Notification-based updates, where the client shows the user a notification in the client UI or a pop-up message in the taskbar. The user can choose to update the client by selecting the notification.
  • Silent on-close updates, where the client automatically updates after the user has closed the Remote Desktop client.
  • Silent background updates, where a background process checks for updates a few times a day and will update the client if a new update is available.

To avoid interrupting users, silent updates won't happen while users have the client open, have a remote connection active, or if you've disabled automatic updates. If the client is running while a silent background update occurs, the client will show a notification to let users know an update is available.

You can set the AutomaticUpdates registry key to one of the following values:

Value Update behavior (per user installation) Update behavior (per machine installation)
0 Disable notifications and turn off auto-update. Disable notifications and turn off auto-update.
1 Notification-based updates. Notification-based updates.
2 (default) Notification-based updates when the app is running. Otherwise, silent on-close and background updates. Notification-based updates. No support for silent update mechanisms, as users may not have administrator access rights on the client device.

URI to subscribe to a workspace

The Remote Desktop client for Windows supports the ms-rd Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) scheme. This enables you to use a link that users can help to automatically subscribe to a workspace, rather than them having to manually add the workspace in the Remote Desktop client.

To subscribe to a workspace with a link:

  1. Open the following link in a web browser: ms-rd:subscribe?url=https://rdweb.wvd.microsoft.com.

  2. If you see the prompt This site is trying to open Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection Center, select Open. The Remote Desktop application should open and automatically show a sign-in prompt.

  3. Enter your user account, then select Sign in. After a few seconds, your workspaces should show the desktops and applications that have been made available to you by your admin.

Azure Virtual Desktop (HostApp)

The Azure Virtual Desktop (HostApp) is a platform component containing a set of predefined user interfaces and APIs that Azure Virtual Desktop developers can use to deploy and manage Remote Desktop connections to their Azure Virtual Desktop resources. If this application is required on a device for another application to work correctly, it will automatically be downloaded by the other application. There should be no need for user interaction.

The purpose of the Azure Virtual Desktop (HostApp) is to provide core functionality to other client apps in the Microsoft Store. This is known as the Hosted App Model. For more information, see Hosted App Model.

Provide feedback

If you want to provide feedback to us on the Remote Desktop client for Windows, you can do so by selecting the button that looks like a smiley face emoji in the client app, as shown in the following image. This will open the Feedback Hub.

A screenshot highlighting the feedback button in a red box

To best help you, we need you to give us as detailed information as possible. Along with a detailed description, you can include screenshots, attach a file, or make a recording. For more tips about how to provide helpful feedback, see Feedback.

Next steps

If you're having trouble with the Remote Desktop client, see Troubleshoot the Remote Desktop client.