Virtual Machine Connection Key Combinations with Hyper-V

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With Hyper-V we now have the "Virtual Machine Connection" to use when interacting with a virtual machine (unlike Virtual Server which used "VMRC").  The Virtual Machine Connection window wraps the standard Remote Desktop Client and uses this to connect to the virtual machine.  As such - we are now using the Remote Desktop key combinations.  Here is a brief summary of the key combinations that can be used with the Virtual Machine Connection:

Standard Windows Key combination Virtual Machine Connection Key Combination Explanation
CTRL + ALT + DEL CTRL + ALT + END Displays the Task Manager or Windows Security dialog box on Windows (or logs in).
ALT + TAB ALT + PAGE UP Switches between programs from left to right.
ALT + SHIFT + TAB ALT + PAGE DOWN Switches between programs from right to left.
ALT + ESC ALT + INSERT Cycles through the programs in the order they were started.
CTRL + ESC ALT + HOME Displays the Windows Start menu.
N/A CTRL + ALT + PAUSE Changes the Virtual Machine Connection window to / from full screen mode.
N/A CTRL + ALT + LEFT ARROW Releases mouse and keyboard focus from the Virtual Machine Connection window.

Some extra things to know about Virtual Machine Connection key combinations:

  • By default the standard Windows key combinations do not get sent to the virtual machine, unless you are in full screen mode.  You can change this so that they are always sent to the virtual machine (if the Virtual Machine Connection has focus) by going to the Hyper-V Manager and selecting Hyper-V Server Settings... and then Keyboard and selecting the Use on the virtual machine option.  I always enable this setting.
    • Note: CTRL + ALT + DEL will always go to the physical computer - so you need to use CTRL + ALT + END no matter what you select for a setting here.

  • You can change the release key combination (CTRL + ALT + LEFT ARROW) by going to the Hyper-V Manager and selecting Hyper-V Server Settings... and then Release Key and selecting one of the options from the drop down (I usually change my release key combination to be CTRL + ALT + SHIFT as I find it easier to type).

  • If you use the Virtual Machine Connection under an existing Remote Desktop Connection (not recommended - but I do it all the time) the Remote Desktop Connection will grab all of these key combinations before the Virtual Machine Connection gets to see them (even the release key combination).  To deal with this you will need to change the Hyper-V Server setting to allow Windows key combinations to go to the virtual machine, change the release key combination to something other than CTRL + ALT + LEFT ARROW, and use the toolbar button or Action menu of the Virtual Machine Connection to send CTRL + ALT + DEL to the virtual machine.


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  • Please add 8 and 8 and type the answer here:
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  • Ben, Dose the Virtual Machine Connection, like the VMRC, have a programable interface?

  • So let me get this right... we now just RDP to the virtual machines and we will see everything from BIOS startup to the actually OS running no matter what the OS is running in the VM... (eg. Linux) ?

  • I applaud the folding of efforts into a single, more unified interface.

    I do, however, wish RemoteDesktop was a little more flexible with its key configuration.  I like to use the "application" key as my VM hotkey, so c-a-d is "application"-delete, and full screen is "application"-enter.

    Honestly, since they added the application key to the keyboard back in the original MS Natural days, its the first real use I have ever had for the key. (and I am a HUGE, HUGE fan of the natural keyboard - except when they screw with the arrow keys and i/s/h/e/u/d array to "save space"...)

  • Hi Ben,

    there is any way to have an x86 Virtual Machine Connection "client" (like VMRC executable) to connect remotely to a VM in Hyper-V?

    Or maybe, there are other ways other than RDP to remotely connect to Hyper-V VMs from an x86 client? (I know about Hyper-V Tools MMC, but it runs only on x64 as far as I know)

  • I've got a bit of a problem here.

    I'm using Remote Desktop to connect to a PC running Windows 7.

    On that I'm running Virtual PC.  In the Virtual PC I'm trying to install XP SP3.

    It doesn't seem to grab the mouse pointer in any useful way.

    I sometimes see the pointer in one of the corners of the VPC's window, or the middle of the top, but I have no meaningful control of it.

    I've got through most of the install using the keyboard to drive it, mainly the Tab key.

    But I've now got to the "Display Settings" "To improve the appearance of visual elements, Windows will automatically adjust your screen resolution" dialog and there is nothing I seem to be able to do to push the OK button.  The dialog doesn't have focus so the keyboard won't do it.  And the mouse won't control the pointer.

    There doesn't seem to be anything I can do apart from going to the physical PC and using its mouse.

    So there are two problems.

    1.  ctrl + alt + left arrow doesn't get through Remote Desktop to get to the Virtual PC .

    2.  The mouse/pointer is not being properly passed to the host OS, which in this case is the XP Installer.  I expect that once I've installed the Integration Components it'll be fine in the real XP, but until then I can't finish the install remotely.



  • Richard K - if you make the VM full screen inside your RDP window, then you can use the ALT+PAGE UP (or whichever) to do program switching and get the focus on the OK button, then use Enter.

  • warning to others , if you are running hyper-v on Lenovo T520 box's

    you will need to do this as the standard combination ctrl-alt left arrow rotates the screen

  • Hi i m virtual machine user. I am not able to use some keys combinations like CTRL+AL+RightArrow,CTRL+AL+Left Arrow,CTRL+AL+UP Arrow,CTRL+AL+DOWN Arrow. Can anybody help me please

  • Ben,

    My question is similar to Alan's; we just installed SP1 on a W2K8R2 VM with MS12-020 installed (  RDP broke.  Hyper-V console also broke.  If Hyper-V Manager console is a wrapper to RDP, how does the console work for non-windows OS's, pre-boot BIOS setup screens, and VM's with no network adapters?  Can that mechanism be configured for my windows VM's when RDP is broken?  We solved this issue by using PSEXEC to unistall the patch from the command line, but for future reference, is there a backup mechanism to get to a VM console?

  • so what to do about fullscreen if your keyboard has no break key? (Dell laptops)

  • Most laptops made in 2012 don't have a "Break" key (mine is an HP Spectre XT).  So if I switch to full screen and unpin the title bar...well I'm stuck.  The only way I can find to get back to my desktop is ctrl-alt-left arrow, then press the windows button.  

    Why not allow users to change these hot-keys to accommodate the unpredictable incompatibilities with other software and hardware in the future?  Would it be so difficult?

  • If I keep both VMs in full screen using Hyper-V. Generally I have to minimize one and switch to another VM and then maximize the 2nd VM, Is there any shortcut key to reduce this effort ?

    Many thanks in Advance.....

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Virtual Machine Connection Key Combinations with Hyper-V