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I have two monitors, will a full-screen remote desktop session running on one of them, and regular windows programs running on the other.

When one of the other programs have focus, I can Alt+Tab between the windows normally, and one of the choices that I can Alt+Tab to is the remote desktop.

Once I switch to the remote desktop, the keyboard is "trapped" by the remote desktop, so that further Alt+Tab's switch between the programs open in the remote desktop.

Is there a keyboard shortcut that "un-traps" the keyboard while the remote desktop has the focus, so that a subsequent Alt+Tab will switch to one of the programs on my other monitor?

(I am used to VirtualBox virtual machines where there is a key (usually Right Ctrl) which does precisely that, i.e. un-traps the keyboard from the VM.)

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I don't know about un-trapping via hot-key, but there's a setting in MSTSC that will disable command key usage entirely within the VM. – Iszi Jun 13 '11 at 20:25
up vote 6 down vote accepted

When full screen and set active, there is no way to "untrap" keys.

However, based on your comments on the other answer, if you just want a plain keyboard only method of getting out of Remote Desktop, try the following:

Press Ctrl+Alt+Pause/Break.

This will take you out of full screen mode and "untrap" the keys, meaning you can do Alt+Tab. To get back to full screen mode, simply do the same shortcut.

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This is slightly inconvenient as you have to re-maximize the window when you return to it, but I guess it'll do. – HighCommander4 Jun 13 '11 at 21:31

Since I had the same problem and read these answers I must add my solution - maybe it helps someone else.

I wanted to press Ctrl+Alt+Pause/Break but accidently hit Press Ctrl+Alt+Home.

I found that this moves the focus out of the maximized window to the title bar and after that Alt+Tab is working.

Think this is slightly more handy ..

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BAM! this is the answer. it should be noted, though, that you have to be quick. one is not able to hold control and tab through the list of applications and think about where one wants to land. focus returns to the remote desktop window quickly if you don't make a selection. as such, it's best to just hit the ctrl+alt+home and then alt+tab back to the prior window and then move more carefully from there. – Dave Rael May 27 '14 at 21:22
@DaveRael When I hit Ctrl+Alt+Home I don't have to be quick - it seems to be permanent until I click back into the RDC window (this is on Win10). Actually, I've now got the oppose problem of untrapping the keyboard: I now can't get the RDC window back in focus without clicking on it with the mouse! – Charles Roper May 25 at 10:20

Remote desktop generally doesn't have an "untrap" key, but the mouse is never trapped. Simply move it anywhere on the other monitor, click so that the RDP client loses focus, and then your keys will work fine with the rest of your system until you give the RDP client focus again.

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The whole point of using keyboard shortcuts is that you don't have to touch the mouse... – HighCommander4 Jun 13 '11 at 21:03
@HighCommander4: You would need to look into 3rd-party RDP clients, then. The Microsoft one is all or nothing. – Darth Android Jun 13 '11 at 21:09

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