Remote Desktop Plus

Once upon a time in a company far, far away, I needed to find a way to have users automatically logon to a Remote Desktop session with a specific set of credentials. I searched everywhere, and although I did find some tools, none of them were exactly what I was looking for. So I decided to make one myself. With the help of a lot of information on the web, I managed to write my own utility, saving me tons of work.

Having done that however, I saw more possibilities. So as a way to spend what little free time I have left, I started writing Remote Desktop Plus. It’s Remote Desktop, but with some added features. Basically it allows you to launch a Remote Desktop session using a username and password entered from the command line (autologin) or imported from a saved profile. But that’s not all…

Features #

  • Login automatically from the command line.
  • It’s free. :-)
  • Supports launching and autologin of RemoteApps.
  • Remote Desktop Plus (RDP+) is not a clone or copy of Remote Desktop. It’s just a shell for the normal Remote Desktop client (mstsc.exe) on your computer.
  • Automatically trusts all local resources and the remote computer. No more annoying questions like: Do you trust the computer you are connecting to?
  • Allows you to save credentials (securely) in profiles. Profiles normally only work for the user who saved them and only on the computer on which they were saved. Profiles can be useful when administering a large amount of computers from a single point of administration. Changed the password for Administrator? Just edit the profile and you’re done.
  • Passwords entered from the command line can be encrypted for enhanced security. Useful when starting Remote Desktop from batch files or published applications (Citrix).
  • Remote Desktop Plus features a special restricted kiosk mode in which only the computer, username, password, or any combination thereof can be changed. When used as a published application, this allows you to grant (internal or external) support departments remote access to a range of servers in a much safer way.
  • You can specify a range of computers the user is allowed to connect to. Any attempt to connect to computers not in the list will be denied.
  • Ability to save frequently used connections as favorites for easy launching.
  • When logging on to a computer with local credentials, Remote Desktop Plus will try to determine the actual computername, so you don’t have to specify a computername in front of the username (like nldb01\sa). This is also useful when logging in to computers using an IP address instead of a computername (rdp /v:10.140.10.1 /u:administrator) or when logging on to Windows clusters.
  • Supports connecting through a Remote Desktop Gateway server.
  • When using custom .rdp files, RDP+ will save valuable text space in the task bar by not displaying the name of the .rdp file in the title bar.
  • Accepts both /console and /admin. No need to remember which version of Remote Desktop and/or which Service Pack for XP you’re running.
  • Can set the working screen size to either the maximum available size (so it looks like a normal maximized application) or to a adjustable size – by setting either a margin or specifying a percentage of the screen – so you can still move it around a bit.
  • When using multiple monitors, you can specify on which monitor the Remote Desktop session should be started.
  • Supports specifying a startup program (i.e. alternate shell) from the command line. You can use both local and remote environment variables in the command.
  • Features an optional system tray icon for launching and managing your favorites, and for quickly switching to currently active Remote Desktop sessions.
  • Launch favorites from the command line.
  • Normally Remote Desktop times out after about 30 seconds when connecting to a non-responsive (or still booting) computer. But the age of modems is a thing of the past and time is precious, so Remote Desktop Plus times out after only 3 seconds.
  • You can set your own title bar text and specify your own icon.
  • Has the ability to disable the close button in the title bar and remove the connection bar, thus forcing users to logoff gracefully instead of just disconnecting and leaving their remote sessions open.
  • Allows you to specify in the command line which drives or drive types to redirect and/or which drive(s) to exclude from redirection.
  • Ever had to login to multiple servers at once? Just enter those servers separated by commas and off you go.
  • Remote Desktop Plus also has a load balancing and (as of version 6.2) a failover feature. Specify multiple servers and RDP+ will randomly pick one of the servers to connect to. If this server is unreachable, RDP+ will skip it and cycle trough the other servers in the list, until it finds a responsive one. You can use this for example for legacy RemoteApps which are hosted on multiple servers without a session broker.
  • Has the ability to log all connections in a log file or the event log.
  • Still missing some command line parameters? RDP+ supports every option supported by the Remote Desktop .rdp file, using a special command line parameter. This gives you an unprecedented control over every aspect of the session, straight from the command line and without the need for specific RDP+ command line switches.
  • Allows setting default options through either the registry, Group Policies or an enviroment variable.
  • Some settings and options can be controlled through Group Policies. Group Policy templates for these settings are available for download on the site.
  • RDP+ has a very small footprint. It consists of a single file, less than 250 KB. No installation required on the client.
  • Contains no spyware, adware, browser toolbars, nag screens, phone home mechanisms or any of that stuff. And it never will.
  • And much more…

Screenshots #

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Note: The GUI only appears when no remote computer has been specified or when the command line option /gui is used.

Command line parameters #

Remote Desktop Plus supports the following command line parameters:

rdp ["connection file"] [/v:computer[:port][,…]] [[/u:username] [/p:password | /pe:encrypted_password] | /i[mport][:profile]] [/domain[:domain]] [/console | /admin] [/[no]printers] [/nodrives | drives[:[-]drive[,…]]] [/[no]sound] [/[no]wallpaper] [/f[ullscreen] | /fit[:fitvalue] | /max | [/w:width] [/h:height] | [/multimon | /span]] [/pos:location] [/mon:monitor] [/title:"title text"] [/icon:"icon file"] [/start:"program"] [/noclose] [/ontop] [/wait] [/disconnect[:seconds]] | [/remoteapp:"||remoteapp"]] [/lb | [/t[:seconds] [/fo]]] [/o:"option[,…]"] [/encrypt] [/gui] [/kiosk[:mask]] [/[list]allowed:target[,…]] [/log[:"logfile"]] [/eventlog] [/tray] [/register] [/batch] [@"command file"] | [/fav:favorite] [/-[option|*]]
"connection file"The name of a .rdp file to be used for the connection.
/v:computer[:port][,…]Specifies the remote computer(s) to which you want to connect.
/u:usernameThe username to be used for logging in to the specified computer.
/p:passwordFor automatic logon, specify the password for the user.
/pe:encrypted_passwordSpecifies an encrypted password for enhanced security. Use /encrypt to generate. Also implies /kiosk.
/i[mport][:profile]Read username and password from the specified (or default) profile.
/domain[:domain]Specifies an optional default domain for the user. Defaults to the domain of the current user.
/console or /adminConnects you to the console/administrative session of a server running Windows Server 2003 or higher.
/[no]printersEnforce or disable printer redirection.
/nodrivesDisable drive redirection.
/drives[:[-]drive[,…]]Enforce or disable drive redirection for the specified drives or drive types.
/[no]soundEnable or disable sound from the remote computer to be played on the local computer.
/[no]wallpaperEnforce or suppress displaying the remote computer’s wallpaper.
/f or /fullscreenStart Remote Desktop in full-screen mode.
/fit[:fitvalue]Fit the remote screen size to the local screen. Enter a margin in pixels or a percentage of the local screen.
/maxFit the remote screen to its maximum size.
/w:widthSpecifies the width of the Remote Desktop session window, in pixels or as percentage of the screen.
/h:heightSpecifies the height of the Remote Desktop session window, in pixels or as percentage of the screen.
/multimon or /spanSet the Remote Desktop session monitor layout identical to that of the client.
/pos:locationSpecifies the starting location of the session window. Use either x,y coordinates or ‘center’.
/mon:monitorStart session on specified monitor number (1 or higher).
/title:"title text"Text to be displayed in the task and title bar.
/icon:"icon file"Icon to be displayed in the task and title bar.
/start:"program"Specifies the remote program to use as shell.
/nocloseDisable the close button in the title bar. Also removes all buttons in the connection bar.
/ontopForce the Remote Desktop session window to be always on top. Also disables the minimize button and removes all buttons in the connection bar.
/waitWait for the Remote Desktop session to end before continuing.
/disconnect[:seconds]Disconnect the session automatically after the specified amount of seconds. Default is 10 seconds.
/remoteapp:"||remoteapp"Specifies the RemoteApp to launch at the remote computer.
/lbUse load balancing to connect to one of the specified remote computers.
/t[:seconds]Try to connect to the computer indefinitely or for the specified amount of seconds until a connection is established.
/foUse the specified remote computers in a failover mode and connect to the first responding server in the list.
/o:"option,[,…]"Specify one or more extended options in .rdp file syntax format.
/encryptDisplay an extra button in the GUI for obtaining the encrypted password string for use with /pe.
/guiForce displaying the GUI.
/kiosk[:mask]Restrict the GUI to a mode in which only the computer, user and/or password can be entered.
/allowed:target[,…]Only allow connections to the specified names or IP addresses. Both wild cards and regular expressions (enclosed in parentheses) are allowed.
/listallowed:target[,…]Set the computer field to a list of only the specified computers or IP addresses. Wild cards or regular expressions cannot be used.
/log[:"log file"]Logs all started sessions in the specified file. Defaults to rdp.log in the directory containing the program.
/trayDisplay a system tray icon for access to your favorites or any active Remote Desktop session.
/registerRegister the .rdpc command file extension and add the program to the search path.
/batchSuppress all standard error message popups. Errors can be handled through the exit codes.
@"command file"Read command line arguments or extended options from the specified file.
/fav:favoriteDirectly starts the specified favorite. Ignores all other parameters.
/-[option|*]Negate previous corresponding option from the command line chain. Use /-* to negate all previous options.

Examples #

rdp /v:nlmail01 /u:administrator /p:P@ssw0rd! /max /mon:2

rdp /i:"Domain Admin" /fit /drives /noprinters /title:"%s (%u) – Remote Desktop"

rdp "G:\RDP\Support.rdp" /v:nlfps01 /u:helpdesk@donkz.local /drives:fixed,-c:,p: /log:G:\RDP\rdp%y%m%d.log

rdp /v:nlts03 /remoteapp:"||FileZilla" /u:donkz\ftp /p:Tr@ns1t

rdp /i:"Backup User" /kiosk /allowed:"10.10.*.*,nlfps*.donkz.local,(nl(app|db)\d{2}(%USERDNSDOMAIN%|))" /w:1024 /h:768 /domain:donkz

rdp /v:nlapp01 /i:"Control Center" /noclose /o:"redirectcomports:i:1, redirectsmartcards:i:1″

rdp /v:nlts01,nlts02,nlts03,nlts04 /lb /remoteapp:"||e-Help Client 3.0″ /u:donkz\helpdesk /pe:dixYA/m8pOHVVkQLAI9ifQ==

rdp /v:nldmz01 /u:donkz\dmz /p:P@ssw0rd! /start:"mstsc \\nlfps01\config$\RDP\DMZ.rdp /f" /title:"Standby Support" /icon:"%WINDIR%\System32\shell32.dll,43″

rdp /v:nldc05,nldc06 /i /console /fit:35

rdp /v:nlapp02 /u:donkz\internetkiosk /pe:356zm6vRajBcS3mnnudOOh43bZKSWewQ /noprinters /nodrives /start:"C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe -k http://www.microsoft.com"

rdp /v:nlapp03 /u:donkz\helpdesk /start:"\"C:\Program Files\Remote Control\rc.exe\"" \"\\nlfps01\Config$\RC\\%COMPUTERNAME\%\%USERNAME%.cfg\""

rdp /v:nlfps02 @options.rdpc /kiosk:cup /gui /log /tray

rdp /u:%USERDOMAIN%\%USERNAME% /kiosk:101 /gui /fit:95% /eventlog

rdp /kiosk:101 /listallowed:nlapp01,nlapp02,nlapp03 /noclose /ontop /u:Student1

rdp /fav:"Batch server" /-pos /fit

rdp /fo /v:nlapp01,nlapp02 /i

Myself, I use the second example the most. Just create a shortcut in your Quick Launch toolbar and you only have to enter the desired server name.

Notes #

Profiles #

Normally profiles are saved with the highest level of security, which means they can only be used using the account which created them and only on the computer they were created on. As of version 5.0, you can now also save profiles using a less strict security, which means they’ll be available on any other computer and will ‘roam’ with you. Please note however that because no external password key is used, a determined individual with the right tools (debuggers, disassemblers), the right knowledge of programming, access to the registry or computer of the user, and some other ingredients, could potentially break the encryption, so use this option with care.

Also new is the add-on tool RDPProfile.exe, which allows you to automatically create profiles from the command line. You could use this from a login script to pre-populate some profiles for end users.

Startup program #

If you need to use double quotes in the /start startup program, you have to put a backslash (\) in front of each quote. You can also use environment variables in your command, both local and from the remote computer. To use remote environment variables, you must precede the percent signs with a backslash.

Combined example: rdp /v:nlapp03 /u:donkzdomain\helpdesk /start:""C:\Program Files\Remote Control\rc.exe" "\\nlfps01\Config$\RC\\%COMPUTERNAME\%-%USERNAME%.cfg""

If Remote Desktop Plus is started by user JohnDoe, the last part of the command will be expanded to "\\nlfps01\Config$\RC\NLAPP03-JohnDoe.cfg".

Title #

You can set a user defined text as your title bar by using the option /title. You can use local environment variables in your title plus these two special variables:
%s: Will be expanded to the server name you’ve connected to.
%u: Will be expanded to the username used to login to the remote computer.

Example: rdp /i:"Domain Admin" /fit /title:"%s (%u) – Remote Desktop"

When connecting to the server nlfps01, this would result in the title bar text nlfps01 (DONKZDOMAIN\Administrator) – Remote Desktop.

Icon #

You can also use your own icon for the session by using the option /icon. This can be either a normal icon file (G:\Icons\Remote.ico) or an executable or .dll file (%ProgramFiles%\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe). For files containing multiple icons, you can specify the desired icon using its index (%WINDIR%\System32\shell32.dll,43).

Please note that using /icon will also force an implied /wait, due to the way Windows retains (or does not retain) dynamically changed icons when the program which requested the changes is closed.

RemoteApps #

You can start a RemoteApp with Remote Desktop Plus, either from the command line or specified in the .rdp file. You can enter the RemoteApp using either its name ("||FileZilla") or the full path to the executable (C:\Windows\System32\Notepad.exe).

When using the name, always enclose it between double quotes, otherwise your system may confuse the double pipe signs with the double pipes used in batch scripting.

All options concerning the screen (like /fit and /mon) are ignored when using RemoteApps. The same goes for /title and /icon. 

Due to the way the Remote Desktop client launches all RemoteApps in a general, embedded instance of mstsc.exe, the option /wait is also not supported.

Remote Desktop Gateway #

Remote Desktop Plus can login to remote servers through a Remote Desktop Gateway. There are no command line switches, so all options must be configured from the normal Remote Desktop client and saved in a .rdp file, or entered through the /o option.

When you select the option Use my RD Gateway credentials for the remote computer, RDP+ will also automatically login to the RD Gateway. If not, you will be prompted for credentials.

Kiosk mode #

With the kiosk mode, you can set the GUI to a special restricted mode, in which only the fields for the target computer, username and password are shown. Using a 3-character ‘mask’, you can enable or disable any of the three fields. Each character in the mask stands for one of the three fields (computername, username, password). A 1 will enable the field, a 0 will disable it.
As of version 6.2, you can also use the first letters of the field(s) you’d like to enable as the mask: c(omputer), u(ser) and/or p(assword).

For example, /kiosk:011 or /kiosk:up will disable the computername field and only allow the user to enter the username and password.

The kiosk mode will default to 100 (or c) when a mask has not been specified.

Allowed targets list #

Using the /allowed command line option, you can restrict users to only a selected range of computers. If the user tries to connect to a computer which is not in the allowed target list, the connection will be denied. This can be especially useful for publishing RDP+ to ‘untrusted’ users.

You can use both wildcards and regular expressions in the list. RDP+ will also try to translate hostnames to IP addresses and vice versa for its matching. So for example, when using /kiosk:100 /allowed:127.0.0.*, a target computer of localhost will be considered valid.

Enclose targets in parentheses to use regular expressions. Environment variables are also supported.

Example: rdp /allowed:"10.10.*.*,nlfps*.donkz.local,(nl(app|db)\d{2}(%USERDNSDOMAIN%|))"

Note: When using the pipe sign (|) in a regular expression, be sure to enclose the entire string in double quotes to prevent conflicts with batch scripting.

You can also use the /listallowed command. This will transform the editable computer textbox in the GUI to a listbox with only the allowed computers listed. This can be more user friendly for third parties. Please note however that wild cards and regular expressions are not supported in this mode.

Drive redirection #

You can specify the drives you want to redirect to the remote computer by using the /drives option. Drives can be specified either by name or by drive type (Fixed, Removable, Network, CD-ROM). To redirect drives that get plugged in later, you can use the drive type Dynamic.

You can also exclude certain drives by preceding them with the minus sign. For example, /drives:fixed,-c:,p: will redirect drive P: and all fixed drives except C:.

If you don’t specify any drive or type, /drives will default to all drives, including the ones plugged in later.

Extended .rdp options #

By using the /o switch, you can specify every option supported by the .rdp file. Options should be given in the exact same syntax as used in .rdp files.

You can specify multiple options by separating them by commas. To use commas within options, precede them with a backslash.

Examples: rdp /start:terminal.exe /o:"shell working directory:s:H:\My Documents, redirectcomports:i:1″ rdp /remoteapp:"||ProdDB" /o:”remoteapplicationcmdline:s:proddb, sqlsa, P@ssw0rd, remoteapplicationname:s:Production Database”

The native RDP+ command line switches always take precedence over the /o options. So if you use rdp /printers /o:"redirectprinters:i:0″, then /printers will win.

For an overview of (most of) the possible settings, you may find this page useful.

Log file #

You can log all started sessions to a semicolon-delimited log file using the /log option. If you don’t specify the name of the log file, it will default to the file rdp.log in the directory containing rdp.exe. If you do specify a filename, the name can be further customized through both local environment variables (like %COMPUTERNAME%), and some special variables:
%s: Will be expanded to the server name you’re connecting to.
%u: Will be expanded to the username used to login to the remote computer.
%c: Will be expanded to the name of the local client computer. When starting RDP+ locally, this will be the same as %COMPUTERNAME%. When starting RDP+ from within a Terminal Server or Citrix session, %c will contain the computername of the originating client computer (i.e. %CLIENTNAME%).
%y: The 4-digit representation of the current year.
%m: The 2-digit representation of the current month.
%d: The 2-digit representation of the current day.

Example: rdp /log:%y%m%d-%s.log

When connecting to the server nlfps01 on the 31st of December, 2011, this would result in the log file 20111231-nlfps01.log being used.

The log file contains all kinds of information about the computer and user which started the session, and information about the target computer and how the session was started. When RDP+ is launched from within a Terminal Server or Citrix session, it will also log the computername and IP address of the originating client. This can also be useful when using thinclients. A typical log file could look like this:

Date-Time;Local-Computer;Local-IP-Address;Windows-Version;Local-User;TS-Client;TS-IP-Address;Remote-Computer;Remote-Port;Remote-User;RDP-Version;RDC-Version;Password-Mode;Session-Type;Application
2013-03-31 11:11:40;LTP0235;10.0.1.163;Microsoft Windows 7 Professional;DONKZ\PeteL;-;-;nlfps01;3389;DONKZ\Administrator;5.0;7.1;Profile;Normal;-
2013-03-31 11:14:46;LTP0235;10.0.1.163;Microsoft Windows 7 Professional;DONKZ\PeteL;-;-;nlsql01;3389;sql-sa;5.0;7.1;Password;Normal;-
2013-03-31 11:17:35;DTP0019;10.0.1.157;Microsoft Windows XP Professional;DONKZ\JohnB;-;-;nlts01;3389;DONKZ\JohnB;5.0;6.1;Profile;Normal;-
2013-03-31 11:19:51;NLTS01;10.10.1.110;Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Enterprise;DONKZ\JohnB;DTP0019;10.0.1.157;nlapp01.donkz.local;3389;DONKZ\Helpdesk;5.0;5.2;Encrypted Password;Alternate Shell;mmc dsa.msc
2013-03-31 11:21:42;LTP0382;10.0.1.146;Microsoft Windows 7 Professional;LTP0382\Administrator;-;-;nldc01;3389;DONKZ\Install;5.0;7.1;Password;Normal;-
2013-03-31 11:23:16;NLTS02;10.10.1.111;Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard;DONKZ\CharlesV;DTP0124;10.0.1.150;10.10.2.191;3390;Support;5.0;7.1;Encrypted Password;Normal;-
2013-03-31 11:26:07;NLTS02;10.10.1.111;Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard;DONKZ\Security02;WS_013184;192.168.200.15;nlapp04;3389;DONKZ\Security;5.0;7.1;Kiosk;Normal;-
2013-03-31 11:28:13;DTP0024;10.10.1.129;Microsoft Windows 7 Professional;DONKZ\TessaM;-;-;nlts01;3389;DONKZ\TimeManager;5.0;7.1;Encrypted Password;RemoteApp;||TimeManager
2013-03-31 11:34:54;LTP0235;10.0.1.163;Microsoft Windows 7 Professional;DONKZ\PeteL;-;-;nlpos82;3389;-;5.0;7.1;Password;Administrative/Console;-

Or, for better readability:

Date-TimeLocal-ComputerLocal-IP-AddressWindows-VersionLocal-UserTS-ClientTS-IP-AddressRemote-ComputerRemote-PortRemote-UserRDP-VersionRDC-VersionPassword-ModeSession-TypeApplication
2011-12-31 11:11:40LTP023510.0.1.163Microsoft Windows 7 ProfessionalDONKZ\PeteLnlfps013389DONKZ\Administrator5.07.1ProfileNormal
2011-12-31 11:14:46LTP023510.0.1.163Microsoft Windows 7 ProfessionalDONKZ\PeteLnlsql013389sql-sa5.07.1PasswordNormal
2011-12-31 11:17:35DTP001910.0.1.157Microsoft Windows XP ProfessionalDONKZJohnBnlts013389DONKZ\JohnB5.06.1ProfileNormal
2011-12-31 11:19:51NLTS0110.10.1.110Microsoft Windows Server 2003 EnterpriseDONKZ\JohnBDTP001910.0.1.157nlapp01.donkz.local3389DONKZ\Helpdesk5.05.2Encrypted PasswordAlternate Shellmmc dsa.msc
2011-12-31 11:21:42LTP038210.0.1.146Microsoft Windows 7 ProfessionalLTP0382\Administratornldc013389DONKZ\Install5.07.1PasswordNormal
2011-12-31 11:23:16NLTS0210.10.1.111Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 StandardDONKZ\CharlesVDTP012410.0.1.15010.10.2.1913390Support5.07.1Encrypted PasswordNormal
2011-12-31 11:26:07NLTS0210.10.1.111Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 StandardDONKZ\Security02WS_013184192.168.200.15nlapp043389DONKZ\Security5.07.1KioskNormal
2011-12-31 11:28:13DTP002410.10.1.129Microsoft Windows 7 ProfessionalDONKZ\TessaMnlts013389DONKZ\TimeManager5.07.1Encrypted PasswordRemoteApp||TimeManager
2011-12-31 11:34:54LTP023510.0.1.163Microsoft Windows 7 ProfessionalDONKZ\PeteLnlpos8233895.07.1PasswordAdministrative/Console

Event log #

Much like the /log option, the /eventlog option writes an entry in the Application event log:

Log Name: Application
Source: Remote Desktop Plus
Date: 2-04-2013 23:21:09
Event ID: 12701
Task Category: None
Level: Information
Keywords: Classic
User: N/A
Computer: DTP0348
Description: Remote Desktop session started…
Date and time: 2013-04-02 23:21:07
Computer: DTP0348
IP address: 10.0.1.198
Windows version: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate
Local username: DTP0348
TS client name: –
TS client IP address: –
Remote computer: nlapp03
Remote port: 3389
Remote user: DONKZ\Administrator
Remote Desktop Plus version: 5.0
Remote Desktop Connection version: 7.1
Password mode: Profile
Session type: Normal
Application: –

System tray icon #

RDP+ features an optional system tray icon. This icon can be used for the following things:

  • Managing and launching favorites.
  • Starting a new ‘blank’ instance of RDP+.
  • Quickly switching to currently active Remote Desktop sessions.
  • Automatically load the tray when you start your computer.
  • See which Remote Desktop session you had active last, or by doubleclicking the tray icon, immediately switch to the last active session.

When using the kiosk mode, the system tray reverts to a simpler mode, in which only the active sessions are available. This simple mode can also be enforced through the Group Policy.

Favorites #

When creating favorites, you have the option to save them with the option Save secured (user and computer bound). This means the favorite is only available on the computer it was created on. Use this option when you have specified sensitive passwords in the command line.

When not saving it as a secure favorite, the favorite will be available on any computer you logon to when using roaming profiles. It will be saved using the same encryption /pe or Gencrypt uses, so it is still secure from prying eyes.

Command file #

If you regularly use the same command line parameters, you can also put them in a separate file and specify this file with the @-parameter. RDP+ will then use the contents as its command line parameters. You can also put normal .rdp file style options in the command file, without having to precede them with /o. This way you can use the command file as a master .rdp file.

Comments can be added by starting the comment line with a semi-colon.

Example of a command file:

; Command line
/fit /noprinters /drives:fixed /icon:Company.ico /title:"%u on %s – Remote Desktop"

; Default .rdp file options
enablesuperpan:i:1
keyboardhook:i:2

Tip: Use .rdpc as the suffix for the file and run RDP+ with the command line /register once to register the .rdpc extension to RDP+. This allows you to double click command files to immediately launch RDP+ and have the command files shown in the recent files when pinning RDP+ to the Start Menu.

Exit codes #

When starting Remote Desktop Plus from a script, you can use the option /batch to prevent RDP+ from displaying error messages. Instead you can catch potential errors through the exit codes (errorlevels) which RDP+ raises.

These are the possible exit codes which can be raised:
0: No errors.
1: General undefined error.
2: Specified connection file not found.
5: Target computer not in the list of allowed targets.
29: Cannot write to the log file.
30: Profile not found.
87: Invalid command line parameter or combination of command line parameters.
161: The format of the specified path is invalid (filename of the connection file, log file or command options file).
259: No responsive server found in the list (when using /lb).
2382: Invalid notation of the specified host name or IP address.
10060: Connection timed out to the specified server.
11001: Remote hostname not found.

Please not that exit codes are only raised when RDP+ is either started with its own /wait command line switch or when you launch RDP+ from a script using the appropiate syntax to wait for completion.

Examples of the latter:

Batch:

@ECHO OFF
START /WAIT rdp.exe blah blah
ECHO %ERRORLEVEL%

VBS:

Set objWSH = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
Shell = objWSH.Run("rdp.exe blah blah", 1, True)
WScript.Echo Shell

PowerShell:

$Shell = Start-Process -FilePath "rdp.exe" -ArgumentList "blah blah" -Wait -Passthru
$Shell.ExitCode

Setting default options #

As of RDP+ 6.2, you can set all of the ‘slashed’ command line options as the default option for Remote Desktop Plus by setting the user environment variable RDP.

For example, you can set RDP to /fit /mon:2 /noprinters /drives:fixed.

When you set /mon to a number higher than the number of monitors attached to your computer, RDP+ will automatically fall back to monitor 1. This means you can safely set it to 2 if you always want your session to start in the second monitor when it is available.

Default options can also be set using the registry key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Remote Desktop Plus\DefaultOptions or HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Remote Desktop Plus\DefaultOptions.

The default options can of course be overruled from the command line. Either by entering an opposing or overruling option (/printers vs. /noprinters, or /fit vs. /max), or (as of RDP 6.2) by using the negating /- option. For example: /-title will negate /title:"Something".

Localization #

You can localize RDP+ for your own language using a customizable XML file. In the download section you will find a Dutch template (language_nl.xml) which you can use to create your own translation. Once you’re done,  save it in the directory containing rdp.exe and replace the template part in the file name with the two letter (ISO 639-1) language code for the language your computer is running.

For example: language_de.xml for German.

Note: I’ve stopped maintaining the language templates, but you can still update them yourself. New versions of RDP+ will still support localization of all strings, new or existing.

Group Policies and registry #

Some of the behavior of Remote Desktop Plus can be controlled through Group Policies or registry settings. More information about this can be found on this page.

Order of preference for commands #

RDP+ supports many different ways for specifying commands or options. These are processed in the following order:

  • Value of HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Remote Desktop Plus\DefaultOptions.
  • Value of HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Remote Desktop Plus\DefaultOptions.
  • Value of the environment variable RDP.
  • Content of the command file.
  • Command line arguments.
  • Machine part of Group Policy setting (Computer Configuration).
  • User part of Group Policy settings (User Configuration).

Last setting wins.

System requirements #

  • Windows XP / 2003 / Vista / 2008 / 7 / 2008 R2 / 8 / 2012 / 8.1 / 2012 R2 / 10
  • Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 or higher

Note: If you intend to launch Remote Desktop Plus from a local network share and you’re running a version of .NET Framework prior to 3.5 SP1, you’ll need to execute the following command once from the command prompt:

%windir%\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\caspol -q -m -ag LocalIntranet_Zone -zone Intranet FullTrust -n "Network shares" -d "Full rights in Local Intranet zone."

If you only have .NET 4.0 installed and no previous version of .NET, Remote Desktop Plus (or any other program targeted for previous versions of .NET Framework for that matter) will fail to launch with an error Unable to find a version of the runtime to run this application. You don’t necessarily have to install an older version of .NET to fix this however. Just create a file named rdp.exe.config with the following content and place it in the same directory as rdp.exe:

<configuration>
        <startup>
                <supportedRuntime version="v4.0″ />
        </startup>
</configuration>

Alternatively, you can download a ready-made rdp.exe.config from the download page. On the same page you will also find an MSI installer which includes this file by default.

License #

Remote Desktop Plus is free to use for home, personal or corporate use. You may use and distribute the program free of charge for both commercial and non-commercial purposes, as long as end users are not charged a fee of any kind for its use.

Download #

Current version: 6.2.1
Release date: May 25, 2015

Download the file
Remote Desktop Plus 6.2.1
(downloaded 27 times)

Click here for the complete change log.

Total number of downloads (as of the release of version 6.2): 23,755

Remote Desktop Plus consists of a single executable. No installation is required.

Please feel free to leave your comments, bug reports or suggestions…

901 comments to Remote Desktop Plus

  • Cabraghman

    When I start RDP+ with "fit screen" selected it sizes to 800×600.

  • Osiris

    Since 6.2 every instance of rdp+ restarts once after 10 seconds.
    After that it stays stable.
    I haven’t set the /disconnect parameter.
    Even when just starting rdp+ and not doing anything but looking at the gui, it restarts after 10 seconds.

    I’m on a W7-64bit.

    • Donkz Donkz

      Hi Osiris,

      That’s odd. It works for me. It really restarts or does it just hide and unhide itself?
      Could you try 2 things?
      – Start the RDP+ GUI, change one of the checkmarks and wait until it restarts? Has the checkmark been reverted back to the default or does it still show the changed value?
      – Start RDP+ with the command line /debug. After it closes (or restarts), it will show you some information about RDP+ and the system it’s running on, including all of the RDP+ and RDC options.
      Could you paste the contents of the debug screen here?

      Regards,
      Donkz

  • For some reason i cannot find the option to change the colors depth (24 bit, 16 bit, 256 color etc.) in the GUI before connecting. If you execute mstsc.exe the option is there and if i add the command line option "session bpp:1:8″ it works. If i look at http://www.donkz.nl/files/rdpsettings.html it clearly says "Settable from RDC GUI?" YES (see option session bpp).

    Anyone can help me out where in the GUI i can find the option to change colors before making the connection ?

    • Donkz Donkz

      Hi Aleem,

      I think there’s been some misunderstanding. What I mean with ‘Settable from RDC GUI’ is not the RDP+ GUI, but the GUI of the normal Remote Desktop Connection. :)

      Regards,
      Donkz

      • Aleem

        Could this be a option for a future RDP+ Build ?

        • Donkz Donkz

          Hi Aleem,

          Maybe some time in the future, but not anytime soon. I don’t want to create a GUI that’s almost a clone of the normal Remote Desktop Connection, with al its tabs with options. I want to keep it as basic as possible, with only the options the user is most likely to change on a session by session basis.
          I’m thinking about adding another option which would meet you halfway somewhere, but I’ll have to see if it works out the way I have it in my head right now. :)

          Regards,
          Donkz

  • Mikkel

    Great tool! I do however miss the option to support high DPI devices. e.g. like Microsoft Remote Desktop Manager does.

    We do have some clients connecting to our terminal servers from laptops with 2550 x 1440 resolution, and that make the terminal session useless since the text is that small..

    Is that a feature you are planning to implement?:)

    • Donkz Donkz

      Hi Mikkel,

      I don’t think I can. :(
      RDP+ in the end starts the normal Remote Desktop Connection, whereas RDM uses (I guess) the ActiveX object for Remote Desktop. In this case this gives RDM an advantage RDC doesn’t have.

      But as far as I understand it (but have not been able to test completely):
      If you’re connecting to a Windows 2008 R2 or Windows 7 machine, you can install a hotfix on the destination computer to be able to change the DPI in the remote session: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2726399/en-us.
      Still not an ideal solution, I agree. :)

      If you’re connecting to Windows 2012, Windows 2012 R2 or Windows 8, and your clients are running Windows 8.1, RDC will automatically adjust the DPI to that of the client computer.
      This may also apply for Windows 7 if you install the update for RDP 8.1 for Windows 7, but that’s just an assumption on my part: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2830477.

      Let me know if this is an option and if so, what the results were. :)

      Regards,
      Donkz

      • Mikkel

        Hi Donkz,

        Thanks for a taking time to reply!

        That is correct that this hotfix (2726399) can be installed, my problem is that it is a pr. user setting. So if I adust the DPI on my users laptops, and they do a remote desktop to our terminal servers – all is fine.

        But when they are in an office where thin clients are available (unfourtunately no docking station), and they connect from here, the size of their desktop becomes too big :o)

        Does that make sense?

        For the second hotfix (2830477) this is a RDP 8.1 CLIENT installer, and the problem lays in the SERVER part of the RDP :-(

        //Mikkel

  • Pat

    Hi, first of all let me tell you you have great tool and at-list life saver for many of my task.

    Here I have, a case where on my work computer I can not use your program due to job terms. So is there any way to share details where I can supply server address, user and password in batch file to connect more than one server with one click.

    Once again thank you for this great program and I will really appreciate if you can help me in above case.

    thanks, pat.

    • Donkz Donkz

      Hi Pat,

      You mean without RDP+ or similar software? Only way would be to save your credentials for each server in Remote Desktop Connection.
      What are the job terms exactly? Maybe some of the other solutions do not violate those terms.

      Regards,
      Donkz

      • Pat

        My problem is I can not use any third party software on that office computer. I have to use windows default RDP and some times I have to start 10-15 session on same server with different RDP users.

        As this is the one server so I can not save multiple users and make shortcut on any folder. So I have to every time put user name and password on RDP screen.

        Here I am looking for any option where I can supply user name and password combination from any windows batch file that way I can make one batch file for each user I have to login on that same server. So somehow if I can supply server user and password with command line then I don’t have to keep on putting password for each user manually.

        Sorry but please let me know if I am not clear on my explanation.

        I found following command from MSDN but it do not have option to supply user name and password.

        mstsc.exe [] [/v:[:]] [/admin] [/f] [/w: /h:] [/public] [/span]

        I can see your tool has this option but I can not use that on my office network.

        Any help will be great.

        Thanks, pat.

        • Donkz Donkz

          Hi Pat,

          I’m afraid you’re in a jam then. :(
          I created RDP+ for exactly that reason. You can’t launch mstsc.exe with a username and password in the command line.
          Saving credentials won’t work in your scenario. Single signon won’t work in your scenario. The only other option is third party software (like RDP+), and you’re not allowed to do that. :(

          You’re not allowed to use any third party software, even it doesn’t need to be installed? Purely console based command line tools are also not allowed?

          Regards,
          Donkz

        • Donkz Donkz

          Although…
          There may be a way to do it with a batch file and native Windows commands.

          This batch file might work:
          @ECHO OFF
          SETLOCAL
          SET MSTSC_SERVER=servername

          SET MSTSC_USER=%1
          SET MSTSC_PASSWORD=%2
          IF NOT DEFINED MSTSC_USER SET /P MSTSC_USER=User name : || GOTO :EOF
          IF NOT DEFINED MSTSC_PASSWORD SET /P MSTSC_PASSWORD=Password : || GOTO :EOF

          CMDKEY CMDKEY /ADD:TERMSRV/%MSTSC_SERVER% /USER:%MSTSC_USER% /PASS:%MSTSC_PASSWORD%
          MSTSC /V:%MSTSC_SERVER%

          As long as Remote Desktop is configured to use saved credentials.

          Regards,
          Donkz

          • Pat

            Thanks Donkz for your help. As such BAT file you gave me is not working. It works well if there is no port number I have to supply but in my case i have RDP running with customize port so no luck.

            I am trying to make a little program in c# to prepare rdp file to resolve my problem. I found good resource at http://www.remkoweijnen.nl/blog/2007/10/18/how-rdp-passwords-are-encrypted/ to put password in rdp file.

            I will really appreciate if you can share some idea if you have on this line. I don’t want to use RDP control here but want to use native RDP.

            Thanks again, P

            • Donkz Donkz

              Hi Pat,

              Yeah, I know the link. That’s the one I also found when searching for a solution and helped me make RDP+. :-)
              In comment 38 you’ll find a link to http://www.obviex.com/samples/dpapi.aspx which will give you 95% of what you need to encrypt a password. The other 5% is in comment 54 and 55 if I recall correctly. (I now use different, much shorter and managed code for the password encryption. If you like, I can send you the function in VB.Net code.)

              If the port is the only issue however, you should be able to make the batch file work. If the port is always the same (3390 for example), the only change would have to be:
              MSTSC /V:%MSTSC_SERVER%:3390
              (The trick being that the port should not be present in the CMDKEY command.)

              If the port is dynamic, you could solve it the same way as with user and password.

              Regards,
              Donkz

  • KevP

    Hi, is there anyway to control the way RDPlus starts up the mstsc sub process? Can it be made a child process/thread so it is still linked to the main rdplus.exe process?
    Cheers v much
    Kev/.

  • Brian

    Is there a way to have a second remote session available as a backup if RDP can’t connect to the first session?

    I have 2 RDS servers and I want some thin clients to connect to a primary RDS server first, and only connect to a backup RDS if the first server is down.

    • Donkz Donkz

      Hi Brian,

      As a matter of fact, it’s in the new version:
      /fo Use the specified remote computers in a failover mode and connect to the first responding server in the list.

      I’ve been meaning to publish it for a long time now, but haven’t had the time yet. Drop me a line if you’d like to try it. :)

      Regards,
      Donkz

  • Jurgen

    Hi, I am using this tool every day for a few years now (since version 3.2.2.0)
    Just installed 6.1 and am happy for its existence :)

  • Paul

    Hi,
    I saw one of your features was:
    * Remote Desktop Plus also has a load balancing and failover feature.

    Is it possible to have a list that the client checks to see if the remote computer is in use and then moves on to the next one in the list? It doesn’t have to be sequencial it can pick randomy but I really want it to use the local credentials and if an error ‘in use’ is returned it attempts to connect to another?
    thanks
    Paul

  • Honza

    Hi! Is there a way to close existing connection run with these parameters: /v:address /u:login /p:password using c# or command line?

    • Donkz Donkz

      Hi Honza,

      Could you explain a bit more about what you’re trying to accomplish? Do you want to start a connection and then immediately close it?

      Regards,
      Donkz

  • skai

    To URI : To start a program, Windows must allow it.
    (I faced the same issue several times).
    For 2012 server :

    use Local Group Policy Editor (gpedit.msc)

    Computer Configuration/Windows Component / Remote Desktop Services / Remote Desktop Session Host / Connections

    Allow remote start of unlisted programs –> set to ‘Enabled’

    this should help :-)

    Here’s on 2008 server.

    https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc731606%28v=ws.10%29.aspx

  • Hi, I’m trying to start a program using the /start option.
    I’m trying: rdp.exe /v:myMachine /domain:myDomain /u:myUser /p:myPassword /start:"C:\Users\myUser\Desktop\Run_Jenkins.bat"

    but nothing happens. I also tried some of the examples above but still without success.
    Any ideas??

    Thanks!

    • skai

      See my detailed comment above (I missed the ‘reply’ button).
      It’s a rights problem, use Local Group Policy Editor
      go to Computer Configuration/Windows Component / Remote Desktop Services / Remote Desktop Session Host / Connections
      enable ‘Allow remote start of unlisted programs’

      enjoy 😉

  • VM

    Profile does not save as default. You got to keep on selecting use profile although you have set it as default, Thanks otherwise it a good program. Thanks.

  • KC

    Hi….forget my previous comment regarding the ‘invalid command line argument’ error….turned to be UAC causing problems. Feel free to delete my posts….

    KC

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