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Windows Remote Desktop Shadowing and Control in 2012 R2

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Remote Desktop Shadowing often has a lot of benefits. When helping end users determine problems, it is much easier to see what is going on, what is being slecected and what is being clicked on. While the industry has many products to help with this, such as Bomgar, Webex, or even the free solution join.me, they all require an install.

In secure enviroments, this is not always the best option, and I for one hate to install anything unless I absolutely have to. This leads to Microsoft's built-in functionality in RDS (also know as RDP). In Windows 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1, you may now RDP into another compter with some switches, and watch or even control the session. No extra installs, and it comes built in, and here's how.

I do not shadow others' sessions often. But every so often, I need to shadow an RDP (RDS) session to help out a user, like this morning working with remote site. I have found that Windows 2012 no longer has the Task Manager > users > Shadow option, but thankfully, this was restored in 2012 R2. To get this option, you must install the Role "Remote Desktop Services" and then you can go into the connection window and Shadow, Control, or Control with no notification.


BUT you can bypass this by going straight to the command line, and you do not have to add any roles! To do this, use the following process:


On the system to be controlled, find the sessions
 SESSIONNAME       USERNAME                 ID  STATE   TYPE        DEVICE
 services                                    0  Disc
 console                                     1  Conn
 rdp-tcp#37        bruce                     2  Active
>rdp-tcp#38        administrator             3  Active
 31c5ce94259d4...                        65536  Listen
 rdp-tcp                                 65537  Listen

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Then use the command
MSTSC /Shadow:2 (This only views, no mouse or keyboard for the user bruce)

Open in new window

Use the /? to see the other options, including /control (like MSTSC /Shadow:2 /control) that will give keyboard and mouse.

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