The battle between Mac and PC may wage on forever, but many homes, offices and tech support teams are simply choosing both. While most desktop software developers offer cross-platform versions of their programs, networking remains one of the fronts where getting Macs and Windows machines on the same page can be somewhat awkward. Luckily, Microsoft has created a free tool that allows Macintosh users to log in to a remote Windows-based machine and control it, just as if they were sitting in front of it. This is great for remote assistance, network administrators or anyone who simply wants to log in to their work computer at the office from their Mac at home. Here’s how to use the Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac:
1. Download the Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac
You can find it for free at http://www.microsoft.com/mac/remote-desktop-client. Click “Download Now,” mount the DMG file and run the installer.
2. Set up your Windows Computer to Accept Remote Desktop Connections
In Windows 7 or Windows Vista, click the Start button and right-click Computer. Choose Properties. Click Remote Settings in the left-hand panel. In the panel that says “Remote Desktop,” check “Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication (more secure).”
Next, look up the IP of your Windows machine, if you don’t know it already. Go to the Windows machine and click Start and type CMD into the search bar and click CMD.exe. Type ipconfig /all and press return. Note the Host Name and the entry after IPv4 Address, which will likely be something like 192.168.1.4.
3. Launch Remote Desktop Connection Client for Mac
Launch the RDC app on your Mac. This will open a field where you can type the IP address or computer name of your Windows machine. Type the IP address or the host name of the Windows computer into this field and click Connect.
You’ll be asked to enter your username and password to log in to the remote computer. Use the same credentials that you would use to log in to the computer directly when you first boot Windows.
Congratulations! You should now be able to view the screen of the remote Windows computer and control its mouse and keyboard. Note that while you are connected, the computer cannot be controlled locally. If someone logs in to the computer while you are connected, you will be logged off.