Using Multiple Monitors in Remote Desktop Session

Using Multiple Monitors in Remote Desktop Session

Introduction:

Multiple monitor support for Remote Desktop Services allows users to open a Remote Desktop connection expanded across all the monitors on the client computer regardless of the client monitor configuration. With this feature, the user can fully utilize all the monitors connected to the client computer for the Remote Desktop connection thereby providing extra desktop space and an almost seamless experience with the client desktop that is much improved over “Span mode”.

This feature will be part of Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2 release and works for connections to another client machine (physical or VM), or a Remote Desktop Session Host.

How to use Remote Desktop Multimon feature:

To use this feature, you must:

  1. Connect using the Remote Desktop Client 7.0 (mstsc.exe) available initially on Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2.
  2. Enable Multimon using one of the three methods described below:
    a. Click “Use all monitors for the remote session” in the client (mstsc.exe) window.
    b. Use the “/multimon” switch on the mstsc.exe command line.
    c. Add “Use Multimon:i:1” to the RDP file.
    image 
  3. Connect to a computer running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2.

How does it look?

Currently this feature displays the remote desktop on all the monitors available on the client computer. It can handle any client monitor configuration supported by Windows.

The following images show the Remote Desktop Multimon feature in various configurations:

image

Display Settings UI inside a Remote Desktop session showing multiple monitors

image

Remote Desktop Multimon Session with 5 monitors

image

PowerPoint inside Remote Desktop session showing multiple monitors

How is this different from “Span” mode?

Span mode, introduced in Vista, allows the remote desktop to span across all monitors on the client as long as the monitors are arranged to form a rectangle. The remote session created when using span mode is still a single-monitor session. With multimon support, each monitor on the client machine is viewed as a distinct monitor in the remote session. Due to this fundamental difference, span mode has some restrictions that true multimon does not:

1. The primary monitor must be leftmost.

2. The set of monitors must form a rectangle (i.e. identical vertical resolution, and lined up in exact straight line).

3. The total of the resolutions must be below 4096x2048 (ex. 1600x1200+1600x1200 = 3200x1200).

For these reasons, all monitor configurations shown below are valid for Remote Desktop multimon, whereas most of them are not valid for span mode:

SpanConfigs

With true multimon support, the client-side monitors can be arranged in any order and can be of any resolution.

Since a span mode remote session is essentially a single-monitor session, if a window in the remote desktop is maximized, it spans across all the monitors. With true multimon support, a window will only maximize to the extent of the containing monitor.

If an application queries for the number of monitors inside a span-mode session, it will find only one monitor, whereas it will find as many monitors as are actually present on the client system when using true multimon RDP. This difference can change the behavior of applications such as PowerPoint.

Remote Desktop Multimon configuration properties:

There are a few settings associated with the Remote Desktop Multimon feature that can be used to restrict the number of monitors and resolution that clients use to connect.

Restricting the maximum number of monitors:

The Remote Desktop Multimon feature provides an option to restrict the number of monitors a user can use to connect. By default, RDP protocol supports a maximum of 16 monitors. This number can be restricted to any value between 1 and 16 using one of the following three approaches:

  1. Using the “Limit maximum number of monitors per session” setting in the Remote Desktop Configuration Tool (tsconfig.msc) as shown below:
    image
  2. Setting the “Limit maximum number of monitors” machine group policy as shown below:
    image 
  3. By setting the MaxMonitors property in the Win32_TSClientSetting WMI class (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa383778(VS.85).aspx).

Restricting the maximum resolution of each monitor:

By default, RDP restricts the maximum resolution to 4096 X 2048 per monitor. Additionally with multimon, the width and height of each remote monitor can also be restricted in one of two ways:

  1. Setting the “Limit maximum display resolution” machine group policy as shown below:
    image 
  2. By setting the MaxXResolution and MaxYResolution properties in the Win32_TSClientSetting WMI class (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa383778(VS.85).aspx).

Please note that the policies and WMI settings described above apply only to connections with multiple monitors and not when connecting with a single monitor.

Leave a Comment
  • Please add 3 and 7 and type the answer here:
  • Post
  • As I suspected, you are running 2008 SP1, not 2008 R2.  The OS you have can NOT (out of the box) deliver multimonitor, except for spanning.  Your options are to install Server 2008 R2 instead (don't upgrade, do a clean install), or use one of the 3rd party products I previously mentioned.

    http://capitalhead.com/articles/how-to-find-build-and-revision-number-of-windows-vista-or-windows-server-2008-installed.aspx

  • "OS Name:                   Microsoftr Windows Serverr 2008 Enterprise"

    Did we get a bogus OS from Dell? Look at the spelling of "Microsoft" and "Sever". I am sure MS Engineers has tools to do some sort of spell checking

    "LOL"

  • As I stated before, 2008 and 2008 R2 are differennt versions of Windows, just like Vista and Win7.  One can't just download an update to go from 2008 to 2008 R2, it's a complete new OS install.  Service Pack 2 for 2008 is NOT 2008 R2.

    If you have Software Assurance for Windows Server, you can download 2008 R2 from Microsoft, but if the system came pre-loaded with an OEM version of 2008, and didn't come with an upgrade certificate, you're stuck having upgrade to 2008 R2.  I can't say for certain for the Server OS, but for the client OS one can purchase an upgrade for an OEM version of Windows, then enroll it in SA.  From whom did you purchase the Server?

  • We do have software assurance for XP (Volume lic) and Servers. I'm not sure about Enterprise edition.

    Time to call MS for the TS licensing and first make sure I can deactivate/transfer TS cal on my current installation.

  • I'm banging my head against the table here. trying to get this to work.  Should the new multi monitor feature be possible with this setup?

    Connecting from home to work:

    home: win 7 pro with monitors of differet sizes (1920x1200 and 1280x1024)

    work: dual monitors on win xp sp3 with mstsc 7

    When I choose the "Use all monitors for the remote session" option, it doesn't take up both monitors at home.  Does my work pc need win7 too?  Thanks.

  • No, this will not work.  The RDP Session Host, in your case the XP SP3 machine, must be running Win7 or 2008 R2 to deliver a Multimonitor experience to the version 7 remote desktop client.  What you are doing is trying to connect a Win7 client to a XP SP3 RDP Session host, so you should only get a spanned desktop.

  • Patrick you deserved a pat in the back. I lost a couple of hair here and finally got it going using the edition I got from MS tour (NEw Efficiency Seminar).

    It works just by adding/activating the feature (RDS) on the server.

    Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7600]

    Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation.  All rights reserved.

    U:\>systeminfo

    Host Name:                 WINR2-ENT-B8

    OS Name:                   Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise

    OS Version:                6.1.7600 N/A Build 7600

    OS Manufacturer:           Microsoft Corporation

    OS Configuration:          Member Server

    OS Build Type:             Multiprocessor Free

    Registered Owner:          Windows User

    Registered Organization:

    Product ID:                00486-001-5551212-87778

    Original Install Date:     12/9/2009, 10:59:48 AM

    System Boot Time:          12/9/2009, 11:45:29 AM

    System Manufacturer:       Dell Inc.

    System Model:              OptiPlex GX620

    System Type:               x64-based PC

    Processor(s):              1 Processor(s) Installed.

                              [01]: Intel64 Family 15 Model 4 Stepping 4 GenuineInt

    el ~2992 Mhz

    BIOS Version:              Dell Inc.                 A05, 10/13/2005

    Windows Directory:         C:\Windows

    System Directory:          C:\Windows\system32

    Boot Device:               \Device\HarddiskVolume1

    System Locale:             en-us;English (United States)

    Input Locale:              en-us;English (United States)

    Time Zone:                 (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)

    Total Physical Memory:     1,014 MB

    Available Physical Memory: 477 MB

    Virtual Memory: Max Size:  2,038 MB

    Virtual Memory: Available: 1,405 MB

    Virtual Memory: In Use:    633 MB

    Page File Location(s):     C:\pagefile.sys

    Domain:                    MSMONEY.local

    Logon Server:              \\CHINGCHING-01

    Hotfix(s):                 N/A

    Network Card(s):           1 NIC(s) Installed.

                              [01]: Broadcom NetXtreme 57xx Gigabit Controller

                                    Connection Name: Local Area Connection

                                    DHCP Enabled:    No

                                    IP address(es)

                                    [01]: 192.168.88.177

                                    [02]: fe80::580d:d3ed:a7d6:fc3f

    U:\>ver

    Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7600]

    U:\>

  • You're very welcome.  Merry Christmas!

  • FYI-  I am using the new RDP client on XP SP3 with a registry change.(CREDSSP is off by default)

    Merry merry Christmas too and a happy new year.

    You are a good guy.

  • So if I understand correctly, multimon should work when connecting from Windos 7 Ultimate to Windows 7 Pro right? Because here, it doesn't..

  • On a side note, can two different users shares a RDP session. We have users (traders) who need to collaborate and manage each others orders.

    Thanks

  • Makes absolutely no sense why Win 7 Professional does not have multi monitor support.

  • Can anyone tell me if multimon is supported on XP SP3 using the RDP client 7 downloaded from this knowledge base article:

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/969084

    The article says it is, but I downloaded it and tried using multimon, and it does not work.  My windows only appear on my primary monitor.

  • Hi

    I need some help

    I want to use two monitors on a Remote Desktop client, which behave just exactly as two monitors on Windows' "Extend my desktop..." option

    I mean, when I maximized an application running on RD client PC, it just maximizes it on primary monitor while second one shows only empty desktop

    I don't want "mstsc /span" option creating one big virtual monitor using two physical devices

    Who can I do that?

    Thanks!

  • i use Win7Prof as Remote and i don't get more then 1 Monitor. In my .RDP File it says "use multimon:i:1". so what's the problem?

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