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I'm running Windows Home Server. It's in my entertainment center, hooked to my TV, and I use it to listen to music and watch movies. Right now I have a keyboard and mouse stuck beside my TV so that I'm able to load a movie. It would be nice, though, to be able to remotely control the screen.

Remote Desktop Connection seems to open its own session in the background, separate from the session shown on the monitor. This doesn't do any good because things started via remote desktop must be closed or changed via remote desktop, and I can't start a movie with remote desktop and then see it from the screen.

Is there a way to get Remote Desktop Connection to connect to the visible screen?

(I am currently using UltraVNC; it was doing the job, but it has its quirks, e.g. upon trying to connect, it says "Server closed connection - The server running as application". There are many other quirks and I want something that is as reliable and low-maintenance as the built-in Remote Desktop Connection. And hopefully free.)

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Your answer is:

mstsc /console

This connects to the console session (which is what's being displayed at the local console, aka the local monitor).

Quit Remote Desktop client first, then run the command above from the commandline. There will probably be no visible indication you're running MSTSC any differently, but it will work.

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Depending on the version of windows (on the client and server) "mstsc /console" may no longer work. – Craig Mar 13 '10 at 21:25
It does not work with Windows Home Server. mstsc /admin, however, does allow me to remotely control the screen session - but, the actual screen (on my TV) goes to the lock window. They can't be operated at the same time. Looks like this is the closest it's going to get - I'll keep trying UltraVNC. – Ricket Mar 13 '10 at 21:47
@Ricket: If this solves your answer (or comes closest), mark it as accepted. :) – Alexander Burke Mar 13 '10 at 21:53

Unfortunately, Remote Desktop doesn't allow you to control the session shown on the screen. VNC is the best solution. You may want to see if different VNC programs work better for you.

Another solution might just be a wireless keyboard and mouse.

Another idea which just came to mind would be using something like PSEXEC to remotely run the program if you know the path to the executable and the file. That would be kind of a silly way to do it, but it might work.

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Incorrect. See my answer. – Alexander Burke Mar 13 '10 at 21:06
Hm, interesting. I haven't seen that before; thanks for sharing! Unfortunately, it sounds like that won't work with some newer versions of RDP. I guess we'll find out if it works for home server. – nhinkle Mar 13 '10 at 21:35

You could give Radmin Remote Control a try.

It's not free, but there is a 30 day trial period.

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There is LogmeIn only downside is you need to be online at the time of use.

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I don't recommend RDP for this use case, nor VNC unless you pair it with a remote app for a smartphone. What you'd want in the case of using a laptop (i.e. touchpad and keyboard) to remote control a system which has a visible monitor: Share Mouse or Synergy.

The former works on OSX and Windows, is well designed and works flawlessly in my opinion, and is free for home use. The latter is open source and also works for e.g. Ubuntu/Debian.

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I wanted to see the screen on the controlling device. These solutions are a bit different, if I wanted to control the mouse and keyboard but view its original screen. Nowadays I use a wireless keyboard with touchpad, the Logitech K400,from my couch. – Ricket Feb 7 '15 at 15:30

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