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When I'm using remote-desktop to a Windows 2003 server, I'd like to have some way of knowing if I'm looking at the console session. Is there please some way I can have something (such as a special wallpaper backdrop) that only comes on with the console?

Many thanks.

I already know how to call the RDP client to request a console or normal session. I'd like to know if there's a way I can tell looking at a running session if it's the console or not.

Here's the back-story...
I had a batch file that connected me to the console session of a remote 2003 server. It worked fine until I put SP3 on my XP workstation. The command line option changed, but the batch file opened up a normal session without an error message or any indication I wasn't looking at the console.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

This in not an answer the easiest way to check

Start -> Run -> cmd Click Ok.

On the command window type

  set sessionname

This will show if it is console or not

Hope this help!

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Thanks. I'll make this a batch file that runs automatically when I log in. If I feel inclined, I'll make a little app that pops up a notification icon error balloon when this environment variable has the wrong value. – billpg May 10 '10 at 11:20
Use BGINFO to create a background screen. Here is a link To add the session Add a New Custom -> of type 'Environment' and Path SESSIONNAME – ggonsalv May 10 '10 at 22:52

You need to connect to the "administrative session" or to the "console". How to do it is different by version of Windows Server.

In each case, create an RDP file by saving the RDP session from the remote desktop client. Then ope the RDP file in notepad using Context Menu -> Open With, and add these two lines at the bottom:

administrative session:i:1
connect to console:i:1

Connect to console is for pre-2008. Administrative Session is for 2008 onwards.

Alternatively you can use the /console switch from the command line for 2003.

Finally, you can connect to a regular session, and shadow the console using the command "shadow 0" or the right-click from the Task Manager Users tab.

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I tried adding those lines but it tells me the credentials didn't work because the identity of the computer I'm connecting to isn't fully verified. Then when I provide the correct credentials it prompts to disconnect one of the 2 logged in users. I thought it was possible to have a console session plus two admin sessions to the same server? – David Clarke Mar 8 '12 at 23:39

Short answer: There is no visual way to tell a console sessions from a regular TS session. You cannot have distinct wallpaper because that's determined by your user session and will be therefore be the same either way.

Depending on the client version you're running you connect to the console using either the /console (old versions) or /admin parameter. Unfortunately, at least a one I've tried needs the latter syntax but doesn't tell you there's an error when using the /colsole switch. That means you can be under the illusion that you're connected to the console when you're not.

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+1 for pointing out the awful handling of command line parameters with the new "/admin" syntax :-( So much for backward compatibility... – Massimo May 10 '10 at 11:27

Try running with the /console parameter. From a command prompt, type:

mstsc /v:your_server_name_here /console

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qwinsta will show all existing sessions, yours will be marked with a >.

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Yes, you are - IF you connect TO The console (command line parameter). Otherwise you look at another session.

Wallpaper etc. - well, I suggest you look at all the properties in your connection dialog. Certain features are normally turned off (i.e. suppresssed WHILE are are on Remote Desktop) because of the bandwidth usage (i.e. wallpaper= stupid if you want a fast user interface on limited bandwidth).

Voting to close - this is obviously a superuser question.

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Why is it "obviously" a super user question when it's clearly referring to a Server 2003 session? – John Gardeniers May 8 '10 at 2:36
Using Remote Desktop? – TomTom May 8 '10 at 3:33
Remote Desktop is what you get when you connect using RDP. Terminal Services is the service that provides Remote Desktop. Same thing whether it's a server or workstation. As some things can be different depending on whether you're connected to a regular session or a console session it can be important for an admin to know which one he/she is using. – John Gardeniers May 8 '10 at 5:08

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