Using Multiple Monitors in Remote Desktop Session

Using Multiple Monitors in Remote Desktop Session

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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 6 and 5 and type the answer here:
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  • This post should be updated to list the requirements. Many people try this using a Windows 7 Professional host, which does not support multi-mon. Since the RDP client isn't going to be updated to have a decent message this blog post should at least clarify the reality -- it's been misleading people for 3.5 years so far.

  • liar liar

    does not work unless host is windows 7 enterprise, ultimate or server 2008 r2

    should be available for all windows 7 hosts

  • Restricting monitors in a three or more monitor setup does not work as the theory above describes. Multi monitor is as easy as is just getting one monitor working. But you won´t get two out of three monitors working in your RDP session. It just won´t work. There seems nobody in the world that has managed this so far.

  • So no one has posted any 3rd party patch to get this work yet?

    we need to use RDP option with more than 1 monitor. we have been asking to Microsoft to help us out in here but it seems like noone listening us here.

  • I got excited when I saw the "Limit maximum number of monitors" policy setting in the local policy editor on my remote machine. I only ever really need 2 monitors to be used in remote desktop and save the third for local Email or a web browser session.

    However, the limit DOESN'T WORK! Well it does, but if you have more monitors than what you set in the limit it simply fails back to single monitor mode. Completely useless for my scenario. It seems that OOTB you are limited to using only one monitor or all of them...stupid.

  • If the display limit per monitor in RDP is 4096 x 2048, how am I supposed to get RDP to work with my 4K monitor, which is 3840 x 2160?

  • The Windows server 2012 needs what type of video cards to make a 3x3 multimonitor?

  • I have Windows 7 and this feature does NOT work. I have read that it only works on Ultimate version but there is no mention of that on this page. Typical marketing crap again, look at all these wonderful features that you don't have.

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