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Dual Monitor and Remote Desktop

tigermattCTO
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Having a dual- or triple-monitor configuration does a lot to boost your productivity, but what about when you want to connect to a Terminal Services session? By default, a Terminal Services screen can either be configured to fill your screen, or to a number of pre-defined screen resolutions. It doesn't seem possible to open a session which spans across all your monitors.

1. The power of /span

The truth is, there is a /span switch which can do exactly that... open a new session to a remote Terminal Server or computer with RDP enabled, and cause the new session to fill all the monitor space on your desktop. To get going, all you need to do is go to Start, Run and enter mstsc /span. When you press OK, you will be presented with the typical connection dialog, where you connect as normal.

If you want to use the switch in a shortcut, I suggest you implement it as follows:

mstsc /span /v:<IP address to connect to>:3389

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For the /span switch to work, the MSTsc.exe help guide states that:
the monitors must all have the same height and be aligned vertically

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However, I can confirm that my 3 monitors are not the same height, and the switch still works perfectly fine for me.

2. A Custom Resolution

If the /span switch just doesn't cut it for you, and for some reason (perhaps you have a large monitor) you want a window to open at a non-standard screen resolution, then there are commands which can help you, too. The /w and /h switches allow you to set a precise number of pixels which the session should be in width and in height. You can either use the switch on-demand by entering mstsc /w:xxx /h:xxx at a command prompt (where xxx represents the number of pixels) and then connect as usual, or you can make use of the switches in a shortcut. The target of such a shortcut should read:

mstsc /v:<IP address to connect to>:3389 /w:xxx /h:xxx

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(Where xxx in the above represents the number of pixels wide and the number of pixels tall the session should be.
I hope this helps; please post a comment to let me know if it does.

-Matt
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tigermattCTO
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Comments (11)

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Most Valuable Expert 2011

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Commented:

If you are connecting to a Windows Server 2008 computer, the /admin switch probably won't do what you expect it to do anyway. You won't strictly be connected to the console, since the possibility of interacting with Session 0 is now reserved for services, not an interactive user. Instead, if you login as DOMAIN\Administrator remotely, and the Administrator is already logged into the console, the remote session will take over the console session. That's just the way it is now, unfortunately.

The /admin switch is there for when using the new RDP 6.1 client to connect to a Server 2003 or 2000 server, since on these operating systems /admin maps to /console.

-Matt
Kevin CrossChief Technology Officer
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Most Valuable Expert 2011

Commented:
Nice article, Matt.  Short but very sweet!  Great combination for my attention deficit, my heavy use of RDP and my love of using dual monitors.
Voted yes above.
Jason C. LevineDon't talk to me.
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Commented:
Good article.  We're implementing RDS now and this will be helpful.
Larry Bristersr. Developer

Commented:
I cannot believe how many years I whined about remote work and having to use one monitor.

Boy...do I feel sheepish!
Spike99On-Site IT Technician
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Commented:

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