Remote Desktop to Surface Tablets

Remote desktopIf you’ve been using Windows for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of Remote Desktop. This technology allows you to remotely connect to a computer (from another computer) and use it as if you were in front of it.

This post will cover how to configure Remote Desktop on the Surface Pro (sorry, it only works on the Pro) so you can connect to it from another computer.

In a later post, we’ll cover Remote Assistance and how you can use it to (mostly) replicate Remote Desktop functionality for a Surface RT tablet.

Configure Remote Desktop on Surface

  • Make sure you’re logged on with an account that has Administrative Rights. If you aren’t you can still follow this process but you will be asked for the administrator password at some point. So you should at least make sure you have it
  • Open the Charms Bar (swipe in from the right side of the screen)
  • Select the Search Charm and search for “Control Panel
  • Select Control Panel from the search results.
  • From the Control Panel, select System and Security

Remote Desktop Surface

  • Under the Security section select Allow Remote Access 

Remote Desktop Surface

  • When the System Properties window appears, select the Allow remote connections to this computer option

Remote Desktop Surface

  • You’ll get a prompt about power options (below). The short version is that you can’t remotely connect to the machine if it’s off or in sleep mode. Click OK

Remote Desktop Surface

  • Click Select Users then Add

Remote Desktop Surface

  • Enter the usernames of the accounts you want to allow access to remotely control your Surface

Remote Desktop Surface

  • After you’re done, click OK on the open windows until you get back to your desktop
  • You’re finished and your Surface is configured to allow remote desktop access

That wasn’t so bad, right? Now you can easily connect and control your Surface Pro from just about any Windows computer. If you want to connect to it from a different type of computer (like a Mac) you may need to find and download a Remote Desktop client for that platform.

Personally, I’ve found this to be a handy capability. There’s been several times I’ve been at my PC and needed something from my Surface that I didn’t sync in Skydrive. With Remote Desktop, I just connect right to my Surface and copy the files over.

I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any questions or comments, just hit reply.



  • Hey Tim,
    I’m about to step into the Surface RT atmosphere and am looking for ways to connect to my laptop through the Remote Access, etc. I’ve read of some other ways, but your post here looks/seems very “to the point” and I was wondering if you had the “next post” for the Surface RT (not only the Surface Pro).

    Would appreciate very much.

    Thanks for your time,

    • Ruben,

      Sorry for the delay, I needed a bit of a break as my day job has been a little hectic.

      I’ve been working on some other posts lately but, I’ll circle back to how to connect to a Surface RT via remote desktop soon. Frankly, I’m waiting on Windows 8.1 to drop (in about a week) before I write up anything on it in case the functionality or steps to configure it change.


  • Hi Tim,
    Thanks much for the very clear description of remote access for the Surface pro. I am trying for some time to connect my recently acquired surface pro to my iMac, and have the following questions.
    1) In the window “Enter names here” do I enter my user name for the iMac?
    2) If I indeed am able to connect to my surface from the iMac, would it also be possible to run Office 365, which is installed on the Surface pro, and eventually other surface applications?? Or is remote access limited to file exchange between the 2 computers?

    • Jack,

      Sorry for the delay but, I’m confused. Are you trying to connect to the Mac from your Surface OR to your Surface from your Mac? The answer will be different depending on which way you’re going.

      If you’re connecting from your Surface to your Mac, you’ll need to install a 3rd party application like TeamViewer on both machines:

      If you’re going from your Mac to your Surface Pro, you’ll need the RDP Client:

      As far running applications goes…. Remote Desktop will allow you to see the screen and control your Surface Pro from another computer so, yes, you can run things like Office or any other applications on your Surface Pro. Keep in mind, though. That you’re just remotely controlling the computer so there will be some lag and both computers will be on and available on the network the whole time.


  • I’m trying to use remote access to copy photoshop from one laptop to my surface. Is this possible and if so, how?

    • It’s not really possible to do what you’re describing.

      While you can technically map a remote drive through the remote desktop client, all you can do with that is copy the files from the target computer. It won’t be the same as actually installing the program and it won’t function correctly.

      Your best option is to get the installation media and license key to do a proper install on your Surface.

  • Hi there.
    I am a science teacher with laptop and both multi-media projector and interactive whiteboard in my lab. Can I connect from my surface pro to the laptop so I can control the display from any point in the lab on my pro? In other words I want to control the laptop from my pro, not the other way around.
    John in Cork, Ireland.

  • The above steps seems to be too technical and complex. Instead, I would recommend using tools like R-HUB remote support servers, logmein, teamviewer etc. for remotely accessing tablets and desktops from anywhere anytime.

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