Remote Desktop on a Second Monitor

I had trouble recently getting the Remote Desktop client to open by default on my second monitor. I ran into a post on Coding Horror that got me part of the way, but I had to add some steps to make it work for me. Here's how to do it on the latest Remote Desktop client:
  1. Run the client and get it set up the way you prefer, or Open your saved RDP file
  2. On the Display tab, choose a non-fullscreen resolution.
  3. On the General tab, click "delete these credentials", if possible.
  4. Click Connect.
  5. You will immediately get a local login dialog. Leave it blank and click OK.
  6. When you are connected and the remote login dialog appears, drag the window to the desired monitor.
  7. On the remote login dialog, click Cancel. The settings dialog should reappear locally.
  8. On the Display tab, you can now choose fullscreen.
The process is slightly different for older Remote Desktop clients:
  1. Run the client and get it set up the way you prefer, or Open your saved RDP file
  2. On the Display tab, choose a non-fullscreen resolution.
  3. On the General tab, remove your login information.
  4. Click Connect.
  5. When you are connected and the remote login dialog appears, drag the window to the desired monitor.
  6. On the remote login dialog, click Cancel. The settings dialog should reappear locally.
  7. On the Display tab, you can now choose fullscreen.
You're done! You can now save your session with the Save button on the General tab, as well as save your login credentials. The hardest part of this process was figuring out how to get the settings dialog to return after I'd connected to the server and moved the window. Clicking the Cancel button on the remote login dialog was the only way I could find that allowed that to happen.

Comments

I usually just have ultramon running and I bind Ctrl + Q to switch open application to next monitor. Then after I open up RD, I switch it. Works well enough.
  • Cory
  • July 7, 2008
  • 2:31 pm
I tried this. It worked, at first, but after I closed Remote Desktop and tried to open the file I saved it opened right back in the primary monitor. Any ideas? I tried this on three different PCs.
  • Ethan
  • July 7, 2008
  • 3:18 pm
Cory: are you using the newest remote desktop client? I just followed the steps again and had no problems; the saved file opens on the secondary monitor.
  • Anon
  • August 5, 2008
  • 11:22 am
Thanks for this. It was driving me crazy to not have control over where those fullscreen sessions opened up.
  • Ted
  • October 16, 2008
  • 11:09 am
This works great. Thanks for the tip.
  • Ethen Schachle
  • October 31, 2008
  • 1:19 am
Excellent excellent excellent! Worked as advertised.
  • Dan Harper
  • January 21, 2009
  • 7:22 am
1. Change the Display settings in your RDP file to a non-fullscreen resolution.
2. Connect your RDP session. (You don't have to log in)
3. Drag the window to your second monitor.
4. Expand the window to fullscreen.
5. Close the RDP window, just click on the 'X'.
(The RDP settings dialog will reappear with Display set to Full Screen.)
6. Click on 'Save as' to save the RDP file.

Now when you open the saved RDP file, it will pop-up on the second monitor in full-screen resolution.
  • mark
  • February 10, 2009
  • 2:55 pm
I've been noodlin' this for years... and I had actually acomplished it by accident once, but couldn't repeat.

awesome, now I can rest easy...
  • lee
  • March 15, 2009
  • 10:48 pm
Fanstantic tip. Just hookup a second monitor specifically to run an rdp in fullscreen. boy was i pissed before i found this. thanks
  • Jonny
  • March 27, 2009
  • 5:03 pm
THANKYOU! Have been racking my brain trying to get fullscreen remote connection on a dual monitor vista PC, your method worked first time!
  • paul
  • May 13, 2009
  • 5:52 pm
many thanks, works a trick.
  • matt
  • May 18, 2009
  • 4:17 pm
brilliant.... been looking for this for a while
  • I
  • July 23, 2009
  • 4:58 pm
<3 you !
  • Doug
  • August 1, 2009
  • 8:08 pm
Thanks. On my dual monitor XP system with UltraMon, RDC was opening on the second screen full screen for awhile, then it wasn't, and I couldn't figure out what I had done. Now all is cool again. Although it is easily adjusted after opening each time, I have gotten really tired of repeating unnecessary steps over and over and over every day of my life and so things like this matter. Cheerio.
  • D
  • August 20, 2009
  • 7:08 pm
WORKS...this just saved 5 seconds per day of my life...IT ALL ADDS UP. THANKS!
  • link470
  • September 23, 2009
  • 7:33 pm
Excellent! I didn't get it at first, but it's very important that you follow the instructions EXACTLY to what they say. The part I got confused on is I was clicking the X on the session window instead of cancel, and never saw the RDP options box come back up. If you hit cancel, it comes back up, if you hit X, it goes away. You need it to come back up, so hit cancel :)

Thanks so much! Made my life WAY easier.
  • Berthold
  • October 1, 2009
  • 9:05 am
Thank you very much! That worked for me.
  • B
  • November 11, 2009
  • 7:48 am
Took me a while to get it right, but that works great. This has been wrecking my head for ages! Thanks again.
  • d
  • December 7, 2009
  • 7:13 am
Nice, works perfect. yust what i was looking for, and explained perfectly!
  • Redz
  • January 7, 2010
  • 5:10 am
Thanks!! Works for me! No more dragging the session to the other screen and maximizing it. It now pops-up on my secondary screen (where I want it).
  • TheNonk
  • February 4, 2010
  • 5:18 am
I'm running Vista and cannot get it to work. Tried the procedure like a 100 times, exactly to smallest detail. But the RDP pop-up box does not reappear after closing the session.

It's really pain in the ass because my secondary screen has a lower resolution than the main screen (on my laptop). The resolution is not listed in the drop-down menu of the RDP settings. So it's not a manner of dragging the RDP window to the other screen, as this will end up using scrollbars to see the whole window...

horror!!!!!
  • abe
  • April 2, 2010
  • 8:46 am
Thank you VEEERYYY much!

@theNonk: try opening the .rdp file with notepad. Edit the "winposstr" line to get something like mine:
winposstr:s:0,1,1024,0,2048,768
that stand for:
winposstr:s:dont_know,fullscreen_on_multiple_monitors,top_left_x,top_left_y,bottom_right_x,bottom_right_y

.. I think...
  • djs
  • May 7, 2010
  • 1:32 pm
I have been trying to figure this out for Windows 7. All the tips weren't working. Then I realized I was "editing a profile" while doing these steps - and so they weren't working for me. If I do the steps with the default configuration (rather than "Save" and "Open") and then when configuration is ALL done - shutdown the full screen session and start RDP and do a "save as" it works! I was opening a saved profile before starting each of the steps and the final result was always putting it on the wrong screen.
  • GrandPixel
  • August 17, 2010
  • 9:00 pm
If you open the .rdp file in Notepad, you will see a line that starts with winposstr. That line determines which screen your session will open on. I have not nailed the formula yet, but through trial and error I have figured a few things out.

It seems like the 3rd and 4th numbers represent the RDP window's top left coordinates, and the 5th and 6th numbers represent the bottom right coordinates. Therefore, the 5th number minus the 3rd number is the window width, and the 6th number minus the 4th number is the window height. I don't know what the 1st and 2nd numbers are, but changing them doesn't seem to do anything (without extensive testing). For more information, see http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms632612.aspx.

For full screen mode, line 1 should read "screen mode id:i:2". And in full screen mode, it doesn't seem to matter what the window width or height is. All that matters is that you place the center pixel on the screen that you want the session to appear. For instance, my left of 2 screens (primary) is 1024x1280 (portrait) and my right screen (secondary) is 1920x1200. So in order to open on my right screen, I just need to make sure the center pixel is located somewhere beyond 1024. I can set winposstr's 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th numbers to 0, 0, 2049, 0. That makes a window that is 2049 x 0, but like I said that really matter in full screen mode. What matters is that the center pixel will be at position 1025,0 (after rounding) - which is on my right screen.

If I had 9 screens in a 3x3 array, each 1024x768 resolution, and I wanted the RDP to be in the center screen, I would set the 4 magic numbers anywhere between 0,0,2050,1538 and 0,0,4096,3072.

Short clarification: 1025,769 is the top left pixel of the middle screen. 1025*2 = 2050 (middle pixel will be at 1025), 769*2 = 1538 (middle pixel will be at 769). 2048,1536 is the bottom right pixel of the middle screen. 2048*2 = 4096 (middle pixel will be at 2048), 1536*2 = 3072 (middle pixel will be at 1536).

This was a semi-thoughtful writeup, so I hope it makes sense to you. I'm sure you can figure it out. ;)
  • steve wasiura
  • August 26, 2010
  • 1:05 am
You can also use negative number values for the wiposstr values, and depending on how you have your monitors arranged and which monitor is the default monitor, your second monitor may be using a negative value for it's coordinates. in one office I manage, the user has two monitors, the left one is the 2ndary monitor, the right one is the primary monitor (that's the way they like it). so if resolution is 1024 x 768, the 2nd monitor top left coordinate would be -1024,0
  • Alecz
  • September 2, 2010
  • 4:13 pm
YOU ROCK!! I have 40 servers to remote in a day!
  • Bri
  • September 13, 2010
  • 1:58 pm
Thanks so much for the tip! Was driving me crazy!
  • one19
  • January 7, 2011
  • 3:49 pm
Thanks! Worked like a charm
  • Ray
  • January 11, 2011
  • 3:12 pm
Excellent! THANK YOU!
  • P
  • February 16, 2011
  • 4:58 pm
Thanks. Works well! I was desperately looking for an answer. Cheers!
  • Joanqui
  • April 5, 2011
  • 11:27 am
It worked (at least for now)!
Thank you!
  • Vincent
  • April 15, 2011
  • 3:32 am
Its crazy that MS did not just add a box where you can select the monitor you wish to use. :S
  • Karl
  • April 19, 2011
  • 2:48 am
Thanks, this was driving me nuts, it'd been on my primary smaller screen for a weeks!
  • Mathew
  • April 21, 2011
  • 1:56 am
Hi, thanks a lot. It is working ;)
After following the steps, I still had problem with the monitor size. What worked for me is to change the saved rdp file in notepad and put in here the desired monitor width and height.

Still you brought me to this idea. ThanksQ
  • dav3
  • July 8, 2011
  • 6:27 pm
Hi,

I have a dual monitor setup with a 1080p monitor above a 1376x768 monitor, what worked after reading all the above is: winposstr:s:0,1,900,900,1500,1500, that is a pixel on the 2nd monitor.

Note, the 0,0 coordinate is the top left.

Also you can download autohotkey, and use the program called autohotkey spy, it will tell you the cursor position x,y, point the mouse on the monitor where you want it then replace x and y with the numbers here: winposstr:s:0,1,x,x,y,y
<br/> Hope that helps! :)
  • Jon
  • July 9, 2011
  • 11:16 pm
There is a tool on this website that may assist you in determining correct 2nd monitor positioning
http://www.filesonic.com/file/913626734/remote_desktop_on_secondary_monitor.rar.

Mac is much more simple. you just select display on "main display" "secondary display". It lists all the available displays in a drop-down box.
  • Deadly-Bagel
  • August 9, 2011
  • 8:39 am
This article appears to be a bit old, while using RDP to say Server 2008 you HAVE to put a password in before it even thinks of connecting. In this case, open an RPD to the PC however, then edit the saved RDP file and open a second instance. It should open RDP to a confirmation window of some sort, like which session do you want to connect to or if you want to boot them off. Drag it to the screen you want, click cancel and save the RDP file that reappears.

The basic principle is the edit window reappears if the RDP session closes itself, rather than by the user. For example, if it times out, or the PC shuts down or loses connection, etc.
  • Robert
  • February 23, 2012
  • 9:24 am
My solution:

- first get the remote desktop to appear on your second monitor in fullscreen.
- then exit the remote desktop tool (apparently this is when default.rdp settings are -updated/saved).
- then finally, set default.rdp file properties to read-only, preventing subsequent modification of the settings file.
  • mil
  • February 27, 2012
  • 10:00 am
You're a God. I was e-raged at RDP until I found this post.
  • narco
  • March 30, 2012
  • 2:25 am
thank you!!!
  • Mike
  • April 17, 2012
  • 12:36 am
Thank you Thank you Thank you Thank you!
  • impactx
  • May 3, 2012
  • 2:39 am
Thank you!
  • armitage
  • May 10, 2012
  • 4:31 am
come back to this every few months - thanks!
  • TJ
  • May 11, 2012
  • 3:45 am
Nice work mate!
  • Stanley
  • May 14, 2012
  • 4:50 am
Great, thanks! Like the deadly-bagel says: restart a new RDP session with one open. You'll get an error message from the original one that is has been disconnected. If you click OK you'll get the mstsc.exe application - and since this is the parent application it must be on the screen you want. Move it and save the RDP!
  • Serg
  • May 14, 2012
  • 6:25 am
Thanks!
  • drew
  • June 26, 2012
  • 5:49 am
Many thanks bud, you saved a headache
  • aritra ray
  • September 5, 2012
  • 6:59 pm
works like a charm
thank a lot
  • halil
  • December 4, 2012
  • 11:32 am
thanks thanks thanks!
  • Nick
  • June 24, 2013
  • 6:50 pm
Nice trick! Worked on Windows 7.
  • Arnauld VM
  • August 30, 2013
  • 3:04 am
Also explained in detail here: http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/665.how-to-set-the-monitor-for-a-remote-desktop-session-in-a-multi-monitor-setup.aspx
Thanks, Arnauld. It's sad that Microsoft has an article describing the process of manually editing the saved RDP file, rather than adding this option to the GUI like they should.
  • Frank
  • April 13, 2015
  • 11:21 am
I know this is old, but I still use the old version of RDP. I follow the instructions and it works as long I keep the RDP edit window open. If I save and close, it reverts back to the primary monitor. Can't figure it out.

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