Many times i am trying to connect to another machine, but realize when I'm connecting that Remote Desktop is not enabled on the target computer.

How does one enable remote destktop on the target machine, remotley?


Check this hack from O'Reilly posted back in 2004.


Basically, you just remote log into target computer's registry and change the settings there.

Hope it helps.

  • Interesting, but it has some security implications, does this still work nowadays?
    – wazoox
    Jun 25 '09 at 20:10
  • I do believe this still works. However, I suppose whoever wants to do this have the proper rights accessing the remote computer.
    – kentchen
    Jun 25 '09 at 22:45
  • This worked for me on Windows 7 and didn't require a reboot. Jun 29 '09 at 3:41

IntelliAdmin has a free utility for this:


EDIT - I cant remember if you need to open a firewall port or not to use this. If so, I use pstools to disable firewall on remote machines with the command prompt. Then run the tool. Then enable the firewall.

The psexec command to disable/enable firewall is: netsh firewall set opmode mode = disable

  • looks neat. Does it work for Vista?
    – Bård
    Jun 25 '09 at 16:58
  • they do have some vista-compatible products, but I dont know if this one is or not.
    – cop1152
    Jun 25 '09 at 17:13

If the machine is in a domain you can use group policies to enable remote desktop.

If you can connect with remote registry, check this out: http://www.petri.co.il/remotely_enable_remote_desktop_on_windows_server_2003.htm

You might be able to use psexec from sysinternals to run some script that will enable rdp.

(I use the first alternative)


A Long Time Ago, In a Galaxy Far Away, I wrote this script as part of an automated Windows Server 2003 deployment script.


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Terminal Server]

Run the command (this was from a batch script running locally on the machine, to a mapped z drive):

c:\windows\regedit /s z:\netinst\rd.reg

If using AD you could push this out using Group Policy.

  • There's already an "Adminsitrative Template" setting for this - Windows Components / Terminal Services / Allow users to connect remotely using Terminal Services Jun 25 '09 at 18:18
  • This was a pretty unique situation - we only had the ability to run batch scripts and this was a stand-alone server in a datacenter. But still, good to know this info. Jun 25 '09 at 18:32

Use WMI and the "[SetAllowTSConnections][1]" Method of the "Win32_TerminalServiceSetting" Class!

From a Windows 2003 command line, you can use the following from the command line:

wmic /node:TargetName RDToggle where ServerName="TargetName" call SetAllowTSConnections 1

[1]: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa383644(VS.85).aspx SetAllowTSConnections


Change the registry value remotely? Might need to reboot though.

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