a companion discussion area for blog.codinghorror.com

Remote Desktop Tips and Tricks


Thanks Jeff, yet another very useful post from you!


I have a memory question relating to remote desktop.

I run an apache server containing a Java app with VM args [-Xms256M -Xmx512M -XX:MaxPermSize=1024M] on my work machine, my work machine has 3.25Gb memory. It runs fine at work, but when i remote desktop from home it complains that it cannot create the Java virtual machine (presumably out of memory as it will run with 512Mb). However it runs fine if I start it at work and then remote desktop in with it still running, but once i stop it, it will not start again.

It should have enough contiguous memory in the latter scenario as nothing occurred between the shutdown of the server and my attempt to restart it.

How exactly does memory allocation work in a remote desktop environment?


In windows remote desktop user are logged of after a certain time out if they have disconnected. Is it possible disconnect only specified user with this timeout ?

What I mean is that I want to be user specific.


I have been using ALT+TAB to flip between applications on a remote computer through Remote Desktop for years. But with my new Dell laptop ALT+TAB no longer works in full screen mode, even after changing the setting on the Display tab to “Full Screen.” It’s driving me nuts. I hate having to use ALT+PAGEUP and ALT+PAGEDOWN. Any tips?



I have a problem with a remote PC that I wonder if anyone else has had and if anybody know of a solution.

I have a remote PC that I mainly use for data storage, and which is always left switched on and always logged in (I ‘disconnect’ rather than ‘log off’). I subscribe to a data service that needs to run once a day. I am trying to run the update program from Scheduler.

The update program will only work when I am connected to the remote PC. If I don’t connect at the time that Scheduler should run, the update is not done, but the Scheduler log shows that the program has run.

I think the problem has something to do with windows applications having to open in an active window. Other programs that do not require an active window, or where an active window has previously been left open have no problem running from Scheduler on this PC.

Any ideas or advice?


I am having an issue where the remote computer reboots itself if I am inactive for a couple minutes on my computer. As long as I am moving the mouse or entering data, the connection works fine. I am running through VPN. To get around this if I am going to leave for a few minutes I disconnect and reconnect when I get back. Is there a setting on the remote PC that is causing the reboot? Or possibly a firewall issue on that PC that has a timeout for a non response that could be causing this? Thanks for any info.


On a slightly different note, I am using the REMOTE DESKTOPS feature in Server 2003 and find that on occasion when I reconnect to an existing session I am not able to access the images/icons at either the top or bottom of the screen. Right mouse clicks respond with short cut menus or commands from applications more in the centre of the screen or the Minimise\Window\Close icons on a particular screen do not work.

Toggling Ctrl-Alt-Pause solves the problem.


Alex in San Diego

Some versions of Remote Desktop allow you to configure the amount of bandwidth needed/ expected for the connection. Lowering the value to 28 or 56 KiloBits (or whatever the lowest connection speed between yourself and your remote machine is) will reduce the amount of information being transmitted to enable the session. It may not be as pretty, but it will be more responsive.


Um… I know this is an old post, and no, I didn’t read all of the comments because the one at the beginning stuck with me, so forgive me if this has already been said, but…

Adding an extra bit doubles the available COLORS (or more accurately, the range of values of data which represent colors.) It does NOT double the amount of data that is sent. That would be ridiculous! Think about it… Going from 8-bit color to 16-bit color does double the amount of data–from 8 bits to 16–but it multiplies the available colors by a factor of 256 (2^8th).

And 15-bit color vs. 16-bit color just means one of the three color components (usually green) now has one extra bit to use doubling its range, thus green has a range of 0-63 (2^6th) which is twice the range of red and blue whose range is only 0-31 (2^5th).

One final comment… while adding one bit doesn’t double the amount of data over the wire, it may add one extra bit if it’s unpacked data and it spills over a byte boundary. IF you go from say 16-bit to 17-bit, that extra bit ‘spills over’ into the third byte and if it’s unpacked (meaning the next ‘chunk’ of data has to start on a byte boundary, that means the rest of that third byte is wasted. That’s why in unpacked data, there is no difference in the amount of data sent between 17-bit and 24-bit since each takes 3 bytes.

Ok… four years late, but there you go!


Typo. 2nd to last paragraph the line should have read ‘…it may add one extra BYTE if it’s unpacked data…’


Very cool post. I thought maybe the readers of this page would benefit from a remote desktop comparison chart that I was involved in putting together. (http://www.remotedesktopmac.com/remote-desktop-comparison-chart). If you think if would be beneficial, please add it as a reference on this page. The chart made the first page of digg and has been tweeted like crazy, so people are finding it useful.


  • Amy


Today, i was stuck while trying to change the password remotely of my WIN laptop using Microsoft remote desktop on Mac. Ctrl + Alt + Del or Ctrl + Alt + End using the onscreen keyboard didn’t help.

I turned on stick keys in the remote machine by pressing shift 5 times. Open Onscreen keyboard (osk.exe) Then, I pressed CTRL + ALT on the mac keyboard and with mouse pointer, pressed Del on the onscreen keyboard. It brought up the options to “change password”.