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Custom display sizes in Windows Remote Desktop.

Posted on 2007-03-30
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Last Modified: 2013-11-21
Hey folks.

We have a setup where I work that blends Windows Remote Desktop with work on the local desktop.  It is mostly to the user's preference what they want to do where, but large, memory intensive programs are run in remote desktop.  Meanwhile, users will run smaller programs on their local desktop.

We used to do this through Citrix, but after dealing with a host of problems, we opted to ditch Citrix in favor of RDP.  The one distinct advantage Citrix had was that you could clearly see both desktops, in a way.  If RDP resolution was set to match the local desktop's resolution (i.e. both were set at 1024 x 768) you could see the full Citrix desktop, taskbar, full windows, everything, but you could *also* see the local machine's desktop right below it.

Problem with RDP is that even if you match local and remote screen resolutions, horizontal and vertical scroll bars appear in RDP, as though you had actually set an RDP screen resolution that was larger than the local.

The alternative that gets rid of the scroll bars was, of course, full screen.  But this throws the baby out with the bath water.  You lose sight of your local taskbar as RDP dominates your screen.

So, is there ANY way to get remote desktop window that matches the user's screen size, while leaving the local machine's taskbar underneath?  I would like to see two task bars--local and RDP.

Help is much loved.
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Question by:khcit
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
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Away from work at the moment but can't you set the users taskbar as always on top and then RDP to bring over "maximum display size"? - If not can't you use the RDP IP label at the top of the screen to minimize the RDP view and get back to the user desktop?
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oBdA earned 250 total points
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You can start the RDP client (mstsc.exe) from the command line, specifying the resolution you want it to have; check here for details:
http://technet2.microsoft.com/WindowsServer/en/library/f47ce263-f72e-469d-bf14-6605b7f4cce51033.mspx?mfr=true
Or you can save an rdp file, open it in Notepad or any other text editor, and adjust the "desktopwidth" and "desktopheight" settings to your liking.
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by:khcit
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oBdA, that was perfect.  It took about an hour or so of tinkering so that I could get it just right for three different Windows resolutions (800x600), (1024x768), and (1280x1024).  

I had to futz around with this a bit in the command line.  Then it came to me that selecting Run and typing "mstsc /w:1020 /h:720" every day was too much to ask of users.  A standard Windows shortcut would have managed to eliminate this step, but it presented the other problem; it only opened up standard Windows RDP and prompted users for a server name.  We don't want them doing that either (still too much to ask of them, IMO).  The shortcuts are intended to RDP them to server "ABC" (fake name, duh), and launch a load balancing application that logs them on to one of three servers for them to do their work.

That's when editing the RDP file in Notepad helped.  I edited the existing RDP file three times, saving it as three separate files.  Works like a charm.  Thanks a bunch.
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by:oBdA
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JFTR: you can specify the server name to connect to in the command line, too (/v), so a shortcut should have worked as well: "mstsc /v:abc /w:1020 /h:720"
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