No matter whether you’re a Windows lover or hater, there’s no denying that Remote Desktop is one of the greatest features of the system. It beats VNC and many other remote control solutions by far for its sheer speed and picture quality (although of course VNC is genius for the fact that it works on Linux and Mac).
One gripe I have had with Remote Destop for years though is that I want to be able to connect to my desktop machine at its native high resolution from my laptop which has a lower resolution. Scaling isn’t that hard! Don’t give me those scrollbars, they are just useless. Both TightVNC and MaxiVista (and many others) support scaling the remote screen and it looks very good, so it’s been frustrating not to have the feature in RDP.
This morning I found that RDP does indeed support nice and efficient scaling, just not from the GUI settings. Here’s how:
- Configure your remote connection from the GUI as usual.
- In “Local Resources, make sure that “Apply Windows key combinations” is set to “On the remote computer”.
- Save the connections settings to a file in a sensible directory. Call it for example “Remote.rdp”.
- Open Notepad and edit that file “Remote.rdp”, it’s just a text file that looks like this (short version):
screen mode id:i:1 desktopwidth:i:1280 desktopheight:i:800 session bpp:i:16 winposstr:s:0,3,0,0,800,600 compression:i:1 keyboardhook:i:1
- Add a new line with this text: “smart sizing:i:1”
- Change the desktop width and height to what you want (for example 1600 and 960 to keep the aspect ratio).
- You’re done! Save and quit Notepad. Double click on Remote.rdp, you’re connected at high resolution!
Using this extremely simple tip (hacking with notepad! where have the hex editor days gone ?) you can crank up your resolution to 4096×2048, if you don’t mind not being able not to read anything. I find that a factor of roughly 1.25 is sensible.