I'm RDPing from Windows 7 to Windows XP. The client machine has two monitors.

I want to have the RDP session full screened on Monitor 2, with the client machine's Windows 7 living on Monitor 1.

I also want to be able to "escape" from the RDP session without using the mouse.

The RDP Display and Local tabs let you configure this kind of thing. I have tried every combination of Resolution + "Windows key combinations work on This Machine / Remote Machine / Only in fullscreen."

No matter what I pick, if I go into Fullscreen mode (Ctrl + Alt + Break) with the RDP window, there's no way to get back out by the keyboard alone.

If I pick "Windows key combinations work on This Machine," then Alt + Tab simply does nothing as long as I'm in full screen. If I take the RDP window out of fullscreen, then Alt + Tab works locally as expected, and I can use the Alt + PgUp and Alt + PgDown hotkeys to scroll through programs on the remote machine.

If I pick "Windows key combinations work On Remote Machine / In fullscreen only," then Alt + Tab will be sent to the remote machine as expected. However, the Ctrl + Alt + Right/Left Arrow shortcut, which Windows Vista help says "enables you to tab out of the Remote Desktop controls," does nothing.

What in the world is going on?


6 Answers 6


I think this may be a dupe of Keyboard-Only navigation between Full-Screen MS Remote Desktop remote system and local system

You can get back out of fullscreen mode by using Ctrl + Alt + Break again. It toggles between fullscreen/non-fullscreen. Once you are back out of fullscreen mode, Alt + Tab will work locally.

A nice enhancement would be some way to Alt + Tab out of the RDP session without leaving fullscreen. I find Ctrl + Alt + Break followed by Alt + Tab to switch to the application I want to use followed by Alt + Tab to get back to the RDP session followed by Ctrl + Alt + Break to toggle fullscreen again to be extremely cumbersome.

  • 1
    That was basically my question--I'm familiar with the Ctrl + Alt + Break keybinding, but really really really want to switch without having to exit fullscreen. Seems kind of obvious... is there really no way to do it?
    – Max Cantor
    Feb 16, 2011 at 19:18

I spend most of the day in RDP, so I want to share the love.

To alt tab in RDP, you use Alt PgUp adn Alt PgDn.

Alt HOME displays the Start menu.

CTRL ALT BREAK switches between a window and a full screen.

ALT DELETE is the same as Ctrl ALT Space.

CTRL ALT NumMinus places a screenshot of the active window, within the client, in the clipboard. Similar to Alt PrtScrn.

Ctrl ALT NumPlus Screen shot of the entire Client's screen in clipboard, similiar to PrtScrn

Another helpful tool is to save RDP files, so you can get multiple resolutions. Sometimes I want to fire up a computer in fullscreen. I have a "full screen" RDP file for that computer. Sometimes I want to fire it up at a smaller resolution. I just click that RDP file instead.

  • 1
    I wish there was a way to propagate Win-??? commands. Win-E to bring up Explorer, Win-D to show desktop, Win-R to Run, Win-Q to bring up the Linq UI, etc. Any hints there? Jan 13, 2014 at 18:20
  • I am guessing that these only work on Windows 7? I am RDPing from Windows Server 2012, and non of these work here....
    – AviD
    Feb 17, 2014 at 20:47
  • @AviD: They work just fine for me. Note the question. These work when you are not in fullscreen.
    – surfasb
    Feb 18, 2014 at 16:03
  • ah, derp. But the question is about when you ARE in fullscreen?
    – AviD
    Feb 20, 2014 at 8:46
  • Does not do the trick :-/ Win7->Win7
    – Peteter
    Nov 19, 2014 at 17:33

Depending on your operating system, "Ctrl + Alt + Home" will bring you back to your local machine, you can then "Alt + Tab" or use "Winkey + T" and select from your taskbar (you can obviously rearrange your taskbar to have the most frequently used icons at the left just by click and dragging them, or put them at the far right and use the left arrow to go straight to this side of the taskbar).

Note: when using "Alt + Tab" it can sometimes jump back to the Remote Desktop session if you pause on the Remote Desktop session icon, though if you "Alt + Tab" twice quickly and go past this icon it avoids this problem. This doesn't happen with "Winkey + T" once back on your local machine.

  • Or a long press on Alt + Tab to avoid falling back into the RDP. Great solution though - much better than popping in and out of fullscreen.
    – jon_two
    Jan 19, 2016 at 11:17
  • Actually, the best way to stop it jumping back into the RDP session is to wait a second or two after pressing ctrl+alt+home. Then you can alt+tab through the host windows.
    – jon_two
    Jan 21, 2016 at 11:45

I found a way to do this using AutoHotkey. See my answer here: Keyboard shortcut to minimize Remote Desktop


I would like to add a new handy key-combination that enables you to use the Alt+Tab combination as expected (including other combinations).
First you should make sure that you run in fullscreen mode, this can be done by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Pause.

After this switch it should be possible to do the Alt+Tab again.


I know this is an old thread, but I just found the answer in case any one was still looking.

  1. Right click remote desktop Icon
  2. Edit > Local Resource > Keyboard
  3. Set to "On This Computer"
  4. Done

Now in Server I can Alt tab into applications outside the server

  • 1
    The OP said that he had already tried this.
    – James P
    Jan 23, 2014 at 15:48

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