How can I send ctrl+alt+del to a remote computer over Remote Desktop?

For example, if I wanted to change the local admin password on a remote PC using a Remote Desktop connection, it would be helpful to be able to send the ctrl+alt+del key sequence to the remote computer.

I would normally do this by pressing ctrl+alt+del and selecting the change password option. But I can't send ctrl+alt+del using Remote Desktop since this "special" key series is always handled by the local client.


ctrl+alt+end is the prescribed way to do this.

Coding Horror has some other shortcuts.

  • 16
    Basic solution valid for one layer of RDP, for the exceptional case of multiple RDP connections to reach the server you need to change your password on, use On-Screen Keyboard, see Dave's answer serverfault.com/a/149030/92008
    – Thomas
    Jul 21 '14 at 18:02
  • 2
    Note this won't work if you use the End key on your numeric keypad. You must use the real End key. On some laptops like mine you must press Fn to access the End key on PgDn. Oct 4 '17 at 8:58
  • 6
    @KolobCanyon, here's a valid use case: bastion and jump hosts to pivot into a specific isolated environment. Your laptop is either on VPN or you're logging into an RDP server via 2FA. It would be ludicrous to open all the sensitive environment to my desktop machine directly. Here's another use case: as a mobile, remote worker, I can be disconnected pretty regularly (internet issue, vpn disconnection, moving from one place to another). Using a jump host makes maintaining existing work far easier as you only need to resume one RDP connection.
    – Thomas
    Jan 30 '19 at 9:37
  • 1
    used a combination of dave's and kevin m's answers to do this. needed the on screen keyboard from the rdp session one above the actual rdp session i wanted to reset the pw on Feb 6 '19 at 17:15
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    @KolobCanyon - have you never heard of RDP jump servers? Where you RDP into a jumpbox, then RDP out to some other machine?
    – warren
    Oct 21 '19 at 20:48

One option is to use the on-screen keyboard from within the first RDP session.

  • 31
    You can press Ctrl-Alt-Del virtually, holding ctrl-alt on the top-level machine and clicking the 'del' in the desired level OSK. This allows you to send the key stroke within several depths of RDP session. Also confirmed on tomshardware.com/answers/id-1629393/…
    – Thomas
    Jul 21 '14 at 18:41
  • Like a commenter on another answer, my laptop has weird "End" keys that render Ctrl + Alt + End useless. This is perfect! Jan 20 '16 at 16:49
  • This is perfect. Works in multiple depth of RDPs. Apr 18 '18 at 14:55
  • 2
    +1 Note that on Win10 this will not work using the touch keyboard (from the task bar) as it doesn't display End, Delete, PgDn etc. Took me a moment to realise there is also a separate On-Screen keyboard available via Start Menu which is what this answer refers to.
    – windowsgm
    Nov 7 '18 at 10:04
  • used a combination of dave's and kevin m's answers to do this. needed the on screen keyboard from the rdp session one above the actual rdp session i wanted to reset the pw on Feb 6 '19 at 17:15

In newer versions of Windows there is a link to Windows Security in the start menu that will get you to the same place.

Never tried ctrl+alt+end - very sweet. I'll have to stick that in the storage space with ctrl+alt+ins for VMware. I personally avoid using the mouse as much as possible - weird for a Windows admin, right?

  • 1
    Thanks -- this is just what I needed. Ctrl+Alt+End didn't work from my laptop (the End key is only available on the numeric keypad).
    – swref
    Mar 8 '12 at 12:05
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    Mouse avoidance isn't necessarily "weird" for a Windows admin? I personally got my start in computers back in the DOS days and, even I moved up to Windows 3.11, often found myself in GUI interfaces while I didn't have a mouse or the mouse was malfunctioning. You learn keyboard shortcuts real quick in those scenarios.
    – Iszi
    Jun 20 '12 at 13:55
  • 1
    +1 This also works when remoting from another remote session. Ctrl+End only applies to the "outer" session. Aug 13 '12 at 14:08
  • This. Exactly for the same reason as @AndersAbel Feb 6 '13 at 15:58
  • Just whilst everyone is reminiscing: anyone else still call the OS key by their first OS name; for example: calling Windows key Amiga key? (or Atari, apple etc to suit your experience) (still happens after 20 odd years using them in volume), ohh and I never had RDP issues on my Amiga :)
    – GMasucci
    Aug 31 '16 at 12:26

In the Remote Desktop help, it says you must use ctrl+alt+end , so that is the correct, official way.

  • +1 from me for the same reason. I actually did search the help for this answer, but did not find it. Aug 21 '09 at 19:15
  • This works when you've killed explorer on the target machine and and your local machine begins to consume the 'ctrl + alt + del' shortcut. Dec 24 '17 at 7:40

You can use the following key combinations in remote desktop connection.





See this http://www.morgantechspace.com/2013/08/how-to-press-ctrl-alt-del-in-remote.html

  • 3
    If you're on Windows 7 on a MacBook Pro it's fn + ctrl + alt/opt + → larrydaniele.com/Blogs/tabid/55/EntryId/53/…
    – elif
    Oct 10 '14 at 13:10
  • ^ Totally works. Dead link. That's CTRL + OPTION + <Right_Arrow_Key> (FN may also be necessary depending on how you configured your keyboard) Feb 28 '18 at 17:18

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