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Using Remote Desktop from a device with a hi-res screen (say, a Surface Pro) is decidedly tricky - as everything displays 1:1 scale and so looks tiny.

If the machine you are remoting into runs Server 2008 R2 or later, you can change the dpi zooming setting (see here).

But for older hosts, that doesn't work.

Using normal Remote Desktop, you can connect with a lower resolution, say 1280x768, and turn on smart-sizing. However smart-sizing can scale down (to display a huge desktop in a small area) but does not seem to scale up (to display a small desktop in a big area).

Using the Windows 8 Remote Desktop App, you can zoom - but you cannot set the default resolution of the host.

What I want is a lower resolution in the host, scaled up to fit my screen.

So both of those are close to what I want, but dont quite work. So question is:

Does the Remote Desktop App allow screen resolution to be set somehow? Is there some other Remote Desktop client that can handle zooming better?

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@techie007 They gave Surface Pro as an example of a high-res screen device. Not really a duplicate. –  ʎǝʞuoɯɹǝqʎɔ May 29 '14 at 15:32
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I want to see the person who coded the maximum RDP window size limit for the smart-sizing feature. It's just a window with an image stretched to fill! Just leave the max size limits out of it and it would have done exactly what we wanted! –  romkyns Aug 6 '14 at 1:45

2 Answers 2

I eventually found a solution to this via this blog post by Falafel Softare.

Basically:

  • Download Microsoft's souped-up RDP client called Remote Desktop Connection Manager 2.2
  • When you add a new server, go to the 'Remote Desktop Settings' tab of the Properties and select 'Same as client area'

I've written this up in a bit more detail with screenshots on my blog.

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Perfect! Just to clarify, this does not require any configuration at all; what happens is that RDPMan is not high-DPI compatible and so Windows simply bitmap-scales the whole lot. Which is all I needed to begin with. –  romkyns Aug 7 '14 at 2:13

In Windows 8.1 and the corresponding Windows Server 2012 R2, there is a new feature (though not mentioned in the docs http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn283323.aspx ): there is an integration with the window manager (DWM) of Windows such that the remote machine (server) will try to match the client's DPI, thus making things look natural size (bigger).

It looks a bit weird on my Surface 2 with some older programs that are not designed with scaling up in mind (basically, DWM just zooms the window, resulting in pixelated apps), but it works.

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this is a frustratingly poor attempt by Microsoft to fix this issue. sure - it might work if you ALWAYS use your Surface to access a remote desktop and if you ALWAYS log out, but if you routinely switch between two different client machines without logging out like I do then this is far from being a solution. plus an awful lot of software doesn't work well with DWM zooming anyway –  Simon Sep 25 '14 at 18:58
    
I can scale DOWN on the Surface by resizing the window and it bitmap scales, but it won't let me scale beyond 100% –  Simon Sep 25 '14 at 19:04

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