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Accessing Local Files and Folders on Remote Desktop Session

The Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) feature of Windows allows you to remotely view and control Windows Remote Desktops. Sharing resources between a local and a remote PC can be tricky, but it is possible to share local files and folders in a Remote Desktop session using RDC or other remote desktop tools like TightVNC

If you are using RDC and want to access files and folders on your PC when you are connected, you need to configure the RDC setting. You can set this every time you connect, or alternatively create a Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) shortcut file to save your settings.

Access local files and folders via a remote desktop connection

The Remote Desktop Connection Tool uses Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol to create a Remote Desktop session with Windows computers and servers. It is included with all editions of Windows 10 and Windows Server.

Microsoft also offers RDP-enabled software to connect to Windows PCs on Macs as well as mobile platforms like Android and iOS. If you have a Mac, you can share files and folders on your Mac in Windows using the Redirection tab in Remote Desktop.

On Windows, the built-in Remote Desktop Connection tool allows you to configure file and folder sharing settings before connecting.

The Remote Desktop Connection Tool on first launch is pretty simple. Typically you will paste the IP address for your remote PC and click the Connect button, but you will need to configure additional settings before connecting if you want to access local files and folders.

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These settings can only be in effect for the duration of your remote desktop connection. To save these settings, you will need to save the connection as a shortcut using the RDP settings file.

Save RDC settings using the RDP shortcut file

The Remote Desktop Protocol settings files are intended to be interchangeable with other software that allows RDP connections.

After you save the RDP file, you can use it to directly connect to the remote desktop in the future. Double-clicking a file to open it will launch the RDC tool and automatically connect using your predefined settings.

You can also access the file from Remote Desktop Connection by clicking Open in the connection settings.

If at any point you want to change these settings, follow the instructions above to overwrite the saved RDP file.

Share files and folders via VNC

Although Windows comes with an RDC tool, you can use third-party Remote Desktop Connection software to connect to Windows and other operating systems. VNC is one of the more popular RDP alternative protocols, with a variety of connection clients that you can use.

RealVNC is one of the most popular VNC server-client software combinations, but it only supports file transfers with a professional or enterprise subscription. A good free alternative for Windows users is TightVNC, which lets you transfer files.

To do this, you will need a VNC server installed on your remote desktop. Installing TightVNC usually installs both the server and viewer components, unless you change this during the installation process.

Once you agree to start transferring, copying of the files and folders you selected will begin. If you want to cancel the transfer, click the Cancel button at the bottom of the window.

If you prefer a different client, you can use file transfer software such as WinSCP to move files between your local and remote Windows PC.

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