Windows XP has a very useful feature called Remote Desktop, allowing you to take full control of a working PC from another PC. For example controlling your Work PC from your Home PC. By using Remote Desktop your home PC will display the same as what would appear on your work PC’s monitor. It is even possible to share your home PC’s disk drives with your work PC allowing for the transfer of files. There are a number of third party remote connection tools such as

Remote Desktop is best used via a broadband connection. It is possible to use Remote Desktop via dial up, however this can be extremely slow

Allowing for remote connection

To enable Remote Desktop on your work PC, right-click on the My Computer (often on your desktop or from the start button) and select Properties. Select the Remote tab. The screen below should now be visible:
Remote Connection
Check the box to “Allow users to connect remotely to the computer” then click OK.
To connect to the PC you will need to know your work PC IP address. See our Tutorial on how to obtain your IP address.

To leave your work PC so that you can go home and then work from home: either log out, or lock the PC (by keying [ctrl/alt/delete] and then select ‘Lock Workstation’. To save power you can turn off your monitor, however ensure that the PC is left on.

Accessing your remote desktop

Windows XP
If your home PC is running Windows XP (Home or Professional), the Remote Desktop Connection software is pre-installed. No further preparation is required.Windows 95/ME/2000
You may have to install the Remote Desktop Connection from Microsoft’s web site if you are running either Windows 95/ME/2000.


Apple Macintosh

If you have an Apple computer running OS X 10.2 or later, you can get the Remote Desktop Connection client from Microsoft at

Linux users should install rdesktop from


From your home PC the Remove Desktop Connection client is located at

Start > Program Files > Accessories > Communication

Selecting the “Remote Desktop Connection” option will display the following:

Remote Conection Stage 2

Type in the full name or IP address of your work PC, and click Connect

If everything was successfully your home PC monitor will, after a short delay, display your work PC in a window. It is now possible to work as if you were sitting in front of your work PC – your desktop, programmes and files will all work in the same way. If you left your work PC ‘locked’ (instead of logging out), you will be able to continue working from where you left off.

From a security point-of-view note that, while you are connected to your work PC, your work monitor will be ‘blanked’ and the PC will lock out any other users. So no one will be able to see what you are doing, or use your work PC, while you are connected.

You can use the Options button to fine-tune your connection settings.

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