Remote Desktop on a High-DPI Screen

By January 31, 2014Uncategorized

Adjusting to High-DPI Scaling

imageScott Hanselman has a great blog post about how life on a high-DPI computer can be painful.  A couple of weeks ago, I upgraded to a high-DPI laptop (the Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus). It has a 3200 x 1800 native resolution, which has 278% of the pixel-area of my previous full-HD screen, but in only 13 inches compared to the 15 inches of my older model.

Needless to say, on my new laptop, it’s very important to turn on DPI-scaling to make things readable on this monitor. For those not familiar with DPI-scaling, it proportionally adjusts the size of elements on the screen without giving up any of the screen’s resolution. In other words, it makes things bigger without making them fuzzier. I’m happy to say that Windows 8.1 has some great improvements in this area.

The Problem – Remote Desktop

In this blog post, my intention is not to show you how to use DPI-scaling in Windows, but to let you know about a solution I found to one of the more annoying issues I’ve discovered so far with using DPI-scaling: Remote Desktop is not DPI scaling-aware. After I scaled my screen down to full-HD (a simulated 1920 x 1080 starting at 3200 x 1800 at 167% scaling), I opened a remote desktop session to a server I help maintain and immediately noted that it was displayed at my monitor’s full native resolution. It was ignoring my scaling settings, which made everything almost impossible to read.

The Solution – Remote Desktop Connection Manager

Fortunately, I discovered a utility from Microsoft called Remote Desktop Connection Manager which is meant to provide sysadmins with an easier way to manage multiple servers in one place, such as server farms or a computer lab environment. Fortunately for us, it also is aware of Window’s DPI-scaling APIs, so it respects your scaling settings.

To set it up, follow these steps:

  1. Download Remote Desktop Connection Manager and install it.
  2. Once it’s installed, run it
  3. Select File > New…
  4. Name your server group something like “MyGroup.rdg”
  5. Accept the default file location by clicking Save
  6. Right-click on the server group in the left pane and select Add server…
  7. Give it an actual server name on your network (or the internet) and give it a display name. Optionally, also specify the logon credentials you’d like to use on the Logon Credentials tab
  8. Most importantly, though, on the Remote Desktop Settings tab, uncheck Inherits from parent and select Full Screen for the Remote Desktop Size.
    Screen Resolution
  9. Click Add to add the server to your server group.
  10. You new server now displays as a node under the server group in the left pane. Double click the server node to connect (or right-click on it and select Connect server)
  11. From the Session menu, select Full screen (or right-click on the server name and select Full screen)

Notice that you are now connected to your remote machine and that the remote machine’s screen resolution is respecting your scaling settings.

Enjoy!

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  • euan_b

    Thanks for this. Has allowed me to use my Surface Pro 3 for on call support.

  • Matt

    This utility worked somewhat, but getting the right resolution was quirky (not automatic) and it doesn’t seem to work on alternative TCP port numbers (other than 3389). The latest public version from Microsoft is 2.2 (which required me to enable .NET framework 2.0 in Win8.1). Apparently Microsoft has more recent versions internally (eg v2.6.1).

    I came across mRemoteNG while searching for that more recent version of this program. It is commercial but free. It is available in a portable version which is great to try it out. It supports

    • Joey

      Yep! mRemoteNG worked like a charm for me as well. RDCMan 2.7 wasn’t working either.

      • Adrian Utsch

        This worked out so much better than futzing with RDCMan 2.7. Do you know how to make the vpn screen go full size in mRemoteNG?

    • Raf

      mRemoteNG worked on my Asus uhd 4k screen with the right scaling. Many thanks for sharing!.

    • Adrian Utsch

      Haha, Matt. This worked out so much better than futzing with RDCMan 2.7. Do you know how to make my vpn screen go full size in mRemoteNG?

    • divorcesucks

      mRemoteNG worked well with my Dell XPS 15 – saved me from having to return it since I’m RDPing 75% of the time!

  • Jon Martin

    Thanks, this worked for me, My Surface on Windows 10 is now complete.

  • Frank Atashili

    thanks a mil

  • Lissa McBurney

    Thanks so much! what a spot-on description and instructions-you’ve done a good deed here

  • Hristo Damyanov

    Thanks J. Works like charm!

  • Brit

    Thanks for sharing. I love my Yoga 2 Pro, but RDP was killing me on this machine. This saved the day.

    • Dominick

      Brit, what OS are you connecting to? I’m connecting to 2008R2 and on the Yoga Pro 2, this (even 2.7) doesn’t seem to work well.

      • sourcez

        @disqus_Wpfyh9alLG:disqus – did you get it working? With 2.7 on a Yoga 900 I’m struggling to get it much better than the built-in client. A real shame, as otherwise this laptop is great, it’s just one of those areas that MS seem to have neglected for scaling. The server is 2012R2.

  • Georg

    Thank you very much! Now it works great on my new 4K Monitor and since you can select a custom resolution with this tool, it’s even better than ever before !

  • Lucas Bond

    Thanks, this has helped me out with Macbooks running Windows 7. This does not work with RDC Man 2.7, the newest version from MS. It continues to work with RDC Man 2.2 (linked to from the article).

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  • Jos Zandstra

    Just found this discussion. I bought an Alternate PC with UHD resolution, and was having trouble with remote desktop from my school(job).. need to figure out a few things, but at least I can recognize text and icons again

  • Martin Aldewereld

    Thanks, it helped me to connect to a Microsoft Dynamics AX2012 remote Azure server and not having problems with scaling in Windows 8.1

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  • Augustine Uzokwe

    Testcomplete: distributed network (running on VM) connects windows server 2012 to run test but the resolution on the server is smaii as tests fails.
    Can the Remote Desktop Connection Manager help?

  • Blue_Peter

    It doesn’t seem like scaling is supported on the Andriod client. Are there plans to roll it out soon?

  • Victor Jockin

    Awesome, thank you. There’s a lot of bogus and wrong advice out there on how to solve this problem, but your post solved it perfectly.

  • Chris

    Don’t know if anyone is still watching this but v2.7 added scaling options under display settings tab which are working very well for me.

    • Adrian Utsch

      Can you tell me how you set the scaling options to get things working?
      Thanks

      • Zoran

        Go to “C:Program Files (x86)MicrosoftRemote Desktop Connection ManagerRDCMan.exe” / Properties /Compatibillity and clean checkbox at ….Hi DPI …

        • Jon Kemp

          Bam! And with that, you solved a problem that’s been driving me mad for weeks. Thanks, Zoran!

  • Craig Smith

    Thankyou!

  • Dumitru Pascu

    Excellent post! Solved my 4K screen issue with RDC. Oh man, such a nice screen and so many issues 🙁

  • Hmmm, this had no luck on my new surface pro 4 with RDCMAN 2.7

  • pagalvin

    This really helped me out a ton just now on my Surface Pro 3 connecting to my Azure remote desktop. Thanks!

  • Caroline Chance

    THANK YOU! I’ve been playing with settings for weeks now and haven’t been able to figure this out.

    I have a very similar issue with with the command prompt Window. Are you familiar with any resolution for that?

  • BenSlivka

    Thank you! I have the newest Dell XPS 15 with a 4K 15.4″ display, and my individual RDP connections were unusable. RDCM worked perfectly! Thank you!
    –Ben near Seattle

  • Sdmad

    Working like a dream connecting my new Surface 4 Pro to all my servers (2008 R2)

  • Michael Jakovich

    I just purchased a Dell P2715Q with a GTX 960 running Windows 10. This solution did not work using RDCM 2.7, however, this solution did work with version RDCM 2.2, which was a bit difficult to find. Leave it to Microsoft to regress with these beautiful displays!

  • David Anderson

    The links for the Remote Desktop Manager no longer work.
    Is there a solution for this with Windows 10 and RDP?

  • Ryan

    Anyone know if there a Windows 10 version of this? The window is too big for my screen and I cannot see the bottom part of it. I can’t add the server because there is no “Add” button visible… I’m guessing this is a version Windows 8.1 v Windows 10 issue.

    • John Kozel

      I have same issue except I figured out where the add button is, still doesn’t work well on my HP Spectrx360 15

  • Doron J

    This helped me even on a windows 10 4k dell laptop connecting to a windows 8 pro machine, and worked on v2.7, but does anyone else also get a much smaller mouse pointer / cursor that takes twice as long to move from one side of the screen to the other side while on the ‘resolution/zoom fixed’ remote session? That’s the only annoying issue.

  • JT…

    v2.7 doesn’t work for me but 2.2 does. Surface Book Windows 10 >connecting to> Windows Server 2008

  • CMM

    Has anyone had the opposite issue, remoting to a 4K display from a non-4K display? I’m using an older laptop to remote into a desktop where I have DPI scaling set to 188%, so when I remote in on my laptop, everything is huge. Tried different settings on RDM 2.2 and 2.7 to no avail 🙁
    Running Windows 7 on both.

    • CMM

      Never mind, fixed it by installing a Hotfix.

  • Denis Amiton

    it works only with 2.2 version of RDC, 2.7 version doesn’t fix the resolution

  • Arminator

    Great, this still seems to work for Windows 10 as client system.

    However, Remote Desktop Manager v.2.2 interpolates the server window such that everything is very pixelated on the client.

    Therefore, is there a way to have the server side window enlarged to the client size screen (4K in my case) without pixelation?

  • Not sure if I am alone, the solution works, yes, but the RDP screen is kinda blurry, not really sharp.
    Basically not usable this way. Tried Terminal, Tried mRemoteNG, but all the same blurry. (the same blurry as if I switch from 4K to 2K). Is there no solution around for real RDP (or alternative) that supports UHD. probably not, as the OS needs to scale correct, as long as you work on compatibility (and make from 4K to 2K, it will be blurry). Thinking of returning the UHD Notebook and switch to a normal display….