RDP File Configuration: What Is an RDP File?

Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is used to connect two computers over a network. In an RDP setup, a computer running RDP client software, or the client, connects to another computer running RDP server software, or the server. The client computer creates an RDP file for storing the connection settings to the server. The client has to open only the RDP file to connect to the server in the future.

Defining an RDP File

While RDP is proprietary technology from Microsoft and used to be available only on Windows, RDP client software is now available on various operating systems, and RDP server software is available for Windows, Unix/Linux and OS X.

During initial setup of an RDP connection, settings and configurations needed to connect client and server are saved to the RDP file that is stored on the client. If you’re using the Microsoft Windows Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) client to connect to an RDP server on Windows or some other operating system, these files are also known as Microsoft Windows Remote Desktop Connection files.

Once connected, the RDP client retrieves and displays the RDP server’s desktop on its own screen. When it disconnects from the server, the client closes the RDP file.

After initial setup, each time the client needs to connect to the server, it has to open only the RDP file. Subsequent updates to RDP connection settings also update the RDP file. This ensures that the client can always connect to the server.

RDP files should not be edited or deleted. In case the RDP file cannot be found, the only way the client can connect to the RDP server is to recreate the connection. This creates a new RDP file for later use.

Configuring Local Resources for Sharing with Remote Computers

RDC, Microsoft’s own RDP client, allows sharing of local resources between client and server, including audio, Windows keyboard shortcuts, printers, clipboards and local drives. Equivalent features may be available in other RDP clients.

Configuring the User Experience for a Remote Session

RDC also allows configuration of the user experience via an RDP file. User experience in RDC settings includes the connection speed to be used, caching of bitmap images on the client computer, and automatic reconnection in cases of network failure.

RDP file settings associated with the above user experience settings include band width auto detect:i:value, auto reconnection enabled:i:value and compression:i:value. For all three settings, a value set to 0 means that the setting is disabled and 1 means it is enabled.

Configuring Multiple Monitors in RDP Files

If you have a dual monitor setup, you can tell RDC to use this configuration. For example, if you have two monitors, you can use one monitor to display the remote desktop and the other your local desktop. You can also use both monitors to display the remote desktop.

However, in case you have three monitors, say 1, 2, and 3, and you want to use only 1 and 3 to display the remote desktop while retaining 2 for your local computer, you will need to edit the RDP file directly.

To configure your RDP file for a three-monitor setup, list your monitors by running mstsc/l on the command prompt. You can then open your RDP file and set selected monitors in the RDP file to the numbers of the monitors you want to use remotely. For example, if mstsc/l yields 0, 1, and 2 as your monitors, you can set any of the following monitor combinations in the RDP file: selected monitors:s:0, 1, selected monitors:s:0, 2 or selected monitors:s:1, 2.

The same setup can be replicated by running the mstsc /multimon on the command prompt.

Simplifying Remote Desktop Access with Parallels RAS

Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS) has an RDP client that you can use for secure access to virtual applications and desktops on any platform, including Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Google Chromebook, and HTML5-compatible web browsers.

The Parallels Client provides a seamless experience with local devices using RDP USB redirection. Another Parallels Client feature is Universal Printing, which allows direct printing to local printers without the need for extra configuration.

To see how easy it is to use the Parallels Client, download the Parallels RAS trial.