Remote Desktop Shortcuts

Many thanks to Ryan Nedeff for this blog entry!

I love remote desktop, I really do. It’s lightweight, it’s rather secure, and it just plain works. It’s one of the few things that Microsoft really got right. The only problem with it is the issue of keyboard shortcuts.
I’m not a mouse guy. I hate taking my hands off the keyboard. Things like Alt+Tab to switch between programs keeps me from going insane. The only problem is, where does RDP draw the line between commands you are trying to send to the computer you are at, and the computer that you are connected to remotely? Simple, just use a different set of shortcuts.
Here’s a list of combinations that I’ve collected over time. Listed first is the normal shortcut, followed by the RDP equivalent.

Normal Shortcut RDP Shortcut Description
ALT+TAB ALT+PAGE UP Switches between programs from left to right.
ALT+SHIFT+TAB ALT+PAGE DOWN Switches between programs from right to left.
ALT+ESC ALT+INSERT Cycles through the programs in the order they were started.
CTRL+ESC ALT+HOME Displays the Start menu.
CTRL+ALT+DEL CTRL+ALT+END Displays the Task Manager or Windows Security dialog box
ALT+PRINT SCREEN CTRL+ALT+PLUS (+) symbol on the numeric keypad Places a snapshot of the entire Remote Desktop session window on the clipboard.
CTRL+PRINT SCREEN CTRL+ALT+MINUS (-) Symbol on the numeric keypad Places a snapshot of the active window in the remote session on the clipboard.

And, as an added bonus, you can move your RDP session window from Full Screen to Windowed mode with CTRL+ESC.

  • Will

    Nice. I too have always found this a weakness…I never bothered to search for a solution so thanks!

    I’ll point out a nice feature new to the v6 of RDP is the /span option to the mstsc.exe command line…allows me to spread a terminal session over my two monitors…

  • Ryan Nedeff

    Nice! As a frequent user of dual monitors, that’s quite a handy trick. Thanks for the tip!