Best MacOS Remote Desktop solutions

April 5, 2024

Best Remote Desktop Solutions for Mac

Do you need to connect to Windows devices and applications from your Mac computer?  Do you have Windows resources in the cloud such as AWS, GCP, or Azure?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need a Windows Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) solution.

What is RDP?

RDP is a proprietary protocol developed by Microsoft.  RDP enables users to access the graphical interface of a Windows computer over a network connection.  The Windows computer could be on the same local area network in a home, campus, or office.  Alternatively, the Windows computer could be offsite or hosted in the cloud as a public cloud vendor.  

There are two required components to an RDP solution: the RDP server and the RDP client.  The RDP server is the Windows computer you will be connecting to and controlling.  The RDP client runs on the computer which is connecting to the server.

Can I connect using RDP from macOS?

Just because RDP is a proprietary protocol from Microsoft.  Clients are available to run on other client computers such as Apple MacOS and Linux.

How to connect using RDP from macOS?

macOS does not have a built-in RDP client application.  You can download the Microsoft Remote Desktop client from the App Store.  There are other alternatives available besides the Microsoft client application.  Once you have installed your RDP client, you will need to add a PC to connect to.  This requires entering the IP address of the Windows device you are trying to connect to.  You will also need to enter the username and password for the RDP host computer.  Once you complete the setup, you can connect to the RDP host and have a graphical interface to the host computer which looks like you are logged onto the computer locally.

Mac connects to Windows via RDP using Remote.It

How to enable RDP on your Window Computer?

The process may vary slightly based on the version of Windows your host computer is running.  The Remote Desktop feature is off by default.  So you will need to enable it to allow RDP connections.  Go to Windows Settings either through the Start menu or the search bar.  Once in Windows Settings, you can search for Remote Desktop.  You will have the option to enable Remote Desktop.  Step-by-step guide

How to connect to a remote RDP host?

If you are attempting to connect to an RDP host computer that is remote or is hosted in the cloud, you will have to perform an additional step.  The legacy method for connecting to remote RDP host computers is to open a port of the router or firewall (port forwarding) so the public IP address and port can be shared with external devices.  This requires access to the router or firewall which not all users will have.  Port forwarding creates additional security concerns since the host computer is not scannable by malicious actors and bots.

Instead, use the Remote.It Desktop application on both the host and client computers.  Remote.It will automatically manage secure network connections for you without port forwarding.  Remote.It also works in environments such as 5G and satellite connections where port forwarding is not possible.

1. Install Remote.It and register both computers to your account.

2. Setup the host computer to share RDP.

3. Ensure both host and client computers are online and signed into your Remote.It account

4. Connect to the host computer from a Mac using RDP

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