If you have Windows PCs and Macs on your home network, there might be times when you need to access the Windows machine from your Mac. Here take a look at a free utility from Microsoft that allows you to RDP from a Mac to a Windows PC on your network.
Update: the method outlined in this tutorial still works (late 2015). However, we have created an updated version of this tutorial – How to Control a Windows 10 PC From Your Mac, and though the screenshots (pictures) used in the tutorial are specific to Windows 10 – the steps are exactly the same for earlier versions of Windows. The updated method also allows you to control your Windows PC from iPhones, iPads and Android devices, and makes connecting to/from each device across the internet, much easier. Again, the method outlined below still works, and is is a great way to control your PC from your Mac across your local network.
For this tutorial we’re using OS X Snow Leopard and accessing a Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit PC. Also, Home versions of Windows don’t allow you to remote into them without 3rd-party software, but do allow you to remote out to other machines that have RDP capability.
1. First you need to make sure you have incoming remote desktop connections enabled on the Windows PC. Click Start then right-click on Computer and select Properties.
2. Then click on the Advanced system settings hyperlink.
3. In System Properties click the Remote tab, under Remote Desktop click Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop, then click OK.
4. Now on your Mac computer download and install Microsoft Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac.
5. Installation is easy…just accept the defaults following the wizard.
6. Close out of the installer and click Finder from the dock.
7. Then you’ll find the Remote Desktop Connection utility in Applications. If you find that you’re using it a lot, you might want to add it to The Dock for easier access.
8. Launch Remote Desktop Connection for Mac and enter in the computer name or IP Address of the machine you want to connect to. In my tests, entering in the IP Address worked the best.
9. Next you’re prompted to enter in your user name and password of the Windows PC, then click OK. You might also want to check Add user information to your keychain so you don’t have to enter it in every time you want to connect.
10. There you go! Now you have access to your Windows PC from your Mac just like you were sitting in front of it.
11. Here is an example of accessing an XP Pro computer from a Mac on a Home Network.
12. If you have a Windows Home Server on your network, you can remote into it from your Mac too.
13. Usually when you remote into another computer, you don’t need to have all of the extra “eye candy” associated with the remote OS. Go into RDC Display settings and uncheck unneeded display features…this should help speed up the remote connection as well.
14. Remote Desktop Connection for Mac has most if not all features that Windows users are familiar with when doing an RDP session into another Windows machine.