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Is there a way, using the keyboard, to switch from a maximized (full screen) Remote Desktop Connection back to the main computer?

I have about 4 Remote Desktop connections that I am switching between and it would be nice to not have to go to the mouse each time I want to switch.

I know I can press Ctrl+Alt+Break and that normalizes the remote desktop screen. That is close, but I would like a way to just minimize it (so I don't have to normalize->switch->maximize each time I want to switch screens)

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11 Answers

up vote 29 down vote accepted

CTRL + ALT + BREAK will minimize the maximized window to the host PC.

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3  
For me that just "Normalizes" it. But that is good enough. (Alt + Tab can then be used.) –  Vaccano May 4 '12 at 15:52
5  
For me, a second ctrl-alt-break will re-maximize the window. –  Ben Mosher Nov 13 '12 at 19:05
1  
CTRL + ALT + PAUSE also works if you don't have the BREAK key or if have to type FN to reach BREAK. –  hobbes3 Feb 4 at 16:00
    
ctrl + alt + pause doesn't work with MS sculpt keyboard (Windows 8). –  Sridhar Ratnakumar Jun 18 at 2:15
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This bugged me for the longest time as well.

Initial attempts to solve it with AutoHotkey failed, because the Remote Desktop client installs a keyboard hook and swallows all input.

I finally discovered that the Caps Lock key gets passed through to the local system.

So, this AutoHotkey script will do the trick, making Ctrl+Shift+CapsLock minimize Remote Desktop:

#IfWinActive ahk_class TscShellContainerClass
  ^+CapsLock::
    ; Need a short sleep here for focus to restore properly.
    Sleep 50
    WinMinimize
  return
#IfWinActive

Corrected version that works for me:

#IfWinActive ahk_class TSSHELLWND
  ^Capslock::           ; Ctrl+Caps Lock (couldn't make Ctrl+Shift+Caps Lock work for some reason
    ; Need a short sleep here for focus to restore properly.
    Sleep 50
    WinMinimize A    ; need A to specify Active window
    ;MsgBox, Received Remote Desktop minimize hotkey    ; uncomment for debugging
  return
#IfWinActive
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Same issue as dnk.nitro on Win7 64-Bit. Upon changing the ahk_class Ctrl+Shift+CapsLock works for me. –  koushik Jun 4 at 9:59
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Alt+Tab

It is possible to use that normal, comfortable keyboard shortcut to get out of a full screen Remote Desktop, but requires a slightly different setup before connecting. Instead of minimizing the remote system, I just switch to another local program and leave the remote system in the background with the following:

  1. Before connecting to the remote machine with Remote Desktop Connection, on the "Local Resources" tab, I set "Keyboard" to "On this computer". This allows using Alt+Tab to get you back to any other program on the local system.
  2. When I want to switch between programs on the remote system, I use Alt+Page Up, which works just like Alt+Tab would, but only on the remote system.

In addition, you can use Alt+Page Down (or Alt+Shift+Page Up) to cycle through the active programs on the remote system in reverse.

One caveat Luc mentioned should be pointed out: using this setup, all keyboard shortcuts using the Windows Key are sent to the local system. An example would be Windows Key+E to open Windows Explorer, which will get you to the local file system, not the remote one.

It took a short amount of time to get used to, but this setup has worked well for me without the need for additional software or more than one shortcut.

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Very good to know this, though it doesn't direct all other input to the remote machine. Using windowskey+E for example is performed locally. +1 anyway. –  Luc Mar 27 '13 at 8:29
    
@Luc - That is a side effect I should have mentioned - I'll add that to the answer. It can be helpful or frustrating always having the Windows Key local depending on what you want at the moment. Thanks. –  kevinmicke Mar 27 '13 at 15:35
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For me in Windows 7 64 bit to make scrip work I had to change 1st line from #IfWinActive ahk_class TSSHELLWND to "IfWinActive ahk_class TscShellContainerClass so the full script now looks like:

#IfWinActive ahk_class TscShellContainerClass
  ^Capslock::           ; Ctrl+Caps Lock (couldn't make Ctrl+Shift+Caps Lock work for some reason
    ; Need a short sleep here for focus to restore properly.
    Sleep 50
    WinMinimize A    ; need A to specify Active window
    ;MsgBox, Received Remote Desktop minimize hotkey    ; uncomment for debugging
  return
#IfWinActive
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Not quite what you asked for, but might be helpful enough:

CTRL + ALT + - switches you to the host computer

CTRL + ALT + - switches you back to the remote computer

Source

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Yes, but this does not work if you chose to not propagate all keys to the remote machine. I need that to have some keyboard shortcuts in the remote machine. The combinations mentioned by the OP do work even in this case, with the flaws mentioned. –  Marcel Jan 5 '11 at 15:32
    
Not working for me. –  Luc Mar 27 '13 at 8:49
    
Doesn't work here, either. –  Iszi Aug 5 '13 at 4:34
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Ctrl + Alt + Home will bring focus to your local machine (at least in Win 8). Ctrl + Alt + Home then Win will open the windows menu on your local machine.

With virtual machine use, I often have multiple RDP sessions open, and switch by Ctrl + Alt + Home then Win + T then arrow keys to pick the RDP session I want to be in.

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Brilliant! This fits exactly what I was looking for. –  AviD Jun 25 '13 at 11:17
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Bring up the host's Task Manager, then task-switch:

  • Ctrl+Alt+Delete (Windows Security)
  • T (Task Manager)
  • Alt+Tab (task-switch on host computer)
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I found that you need two combinations of shorcuts. It works in Windows 7.

  1. CTRL + ALT + BREAK will minimize the maximized window to the host PC.
  2. Win + M Minimize your remote Desktop window

or in the first step you can change of window with ALT + TAB

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I do the same thing. The best solution I found in XP was virtual dimension with the virtual desktops always on top. Then I can switch among 4 remote desktops in full screen with one mouse click each. However, Virtual Dimension doesn't work quite right in Windows 7 (at least in 64 bit). It seems to work but it loses the "always on top" though the checkbox stays on, the virtual desktop switcher does not. It is so close to what we both want, but so far.

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I found this workaround using a mutli-desktop manager:

  1. Install Dexpot
  2. Configure Hotkey for "Next Desktop" to ALT+ScrollLock
  3. Configure Remote Desktop to Capture all Keys in Fullscreen Mode

Then you can switch between Fullscreen Desktops mit ALT+ScrollLock.

I set the number of Desktops to 2, as I only have 1 remote desktop.

Additionally, I have installed Clavier, which allows me use just ScrollLock to switch between desktops. (Clavier config: Add-> Write Text... -> Shortcut: ScrollLock -> OK -> Write-Text: [ALT+ScrollLock] )

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CTRL+ALT+Home brings focus to the Remote Desktop Connection bar. The connection bar includes the minimize button.

In Windows 7, if I un-check "Display the connection bar when I use the full screen" option when making the connection, then the keys to minimize the RPD session are CTRL+ALT+Home Spacebar.

If the connection bar is set to show (which is the default) then it requires hitting Tab a couple of times to minimize the RDP session: CTRL+ALT+Home Tab Tab Spacebar.

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