Remote Access

How to enable Remote Desktop on Windows 10

You can now allow remote access to your computer using the Settings app on Windows 10 — here's how to turn on the feature.

Windows 10 Remote Desktop enabled

On Windows 10, you can enable Remote Desktop to allow remote access to the device using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP). Usually, you would use this feature to offer assistance or control a computer or server without being physically present at the location using the modern “Remote Desktop” or legacy “Remote Desktop Connection” app.

The ability to allow external access to a device has been available for many years, but it was a feature you have to configure using the Control Panel. However, on Windows 10, the settings to enable remote access are now included in the Settings app.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to enable Remote Desktop to manage a device or access your files and apps remotely using the Settings app as well as using Control Panel on Windows 10.

Important: Remote Desktop is not a feature available on Windows 10 Home, only on Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise. If you’re running Windows 10 Home, you can use the Chrome Remote Desktop as an alternative.

How to enable Remote Desktop on Windows 10 using Settings

To enable Remote Desktop on Windows 10 using the Settings app, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings on Windows 10.

  2. Click on System.

  3. Click on Remote Desktop.

  4. Turn on the Enable Remote Desktop toggle switch.

    Enable remote desktop on Windows 10
    Enable remote desktop on Windows 10
  5. Click the Confirm button.

Once you complete the steps, you can connect to your computer using the modern Remote Desktop app (recommended) or using the Remote Desktop Connection built-in experience included with Windows 10.

You’ll also notice that as you turn on Remote Desktop, two additional options are also enabled (Keep my PC awake for connection when it is plugged in and Make my PC discoverable on private networks to enable automatic connection from a remote device) to ensure that you can always connect when you’re away.

Windows 10 Remote Desktop settings
Windows 10 Remote Desktop settings

In the “Advanced settings” page, you’ll also find additional options, such as the ability to require computers to use “Network Level Authentication” to connect. This is a feature that makes the connection more secure by requiring users to authenticate with the network before they can connect to the device.

Remote Desktop Advanced settings on Windows 10
Remote Desktop Advanced settings on Windows 10

The settings page also displays the current Remote Desktop port in case you need to configure a router to allow remote connections outside of the network. If nothing changes on your device, the port number should always be 3389.

How to enable Remote Desktop on Windows 10 using Control Panel

Although the Settings app make it easy to allow remote access to your computer, it’s still possible to enable RDP using Control Panel.

To enable Remote Desktop with Control Panel, use these steps:

  1. Open Control Panel.

  2. Click on System and Security.

  3. Under the “System” section, click the Allow remote access link.

    Allow Remote Access on Control Panel
    Allow Remote Access on Control Panel
  4. Under the “Remote Desktop” section, select the Allow remote connections to this computer option.

    Remote settings on System Properties
    Remote settings on System Properties
  5. Click the Apply button.

  6. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, you can use one of the available clients from another computer to connect to your device remotely.

It should be noted that as you enable the feature using Control Panel, the option to require Network Level Authentication also gets selected by default, which is an option you want to have enabled anyway.

While you can use Control Panel to configure Remote Desktop on Windows 10 and previous versions, such as Windows 8.1 and Windows 7, the ability to turn on the feature using the Settings app is only available starting with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and later versions.

Update October 28, 2020: This guide has been updated to reflect the most up-to-date changes available on Windows 10 using the remote access protocol.