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Can you save remote desktop connections to log in to different user accounts?
June 30, 2009 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible (in Windows Vista Ultimate) to save remote desktop connections to the same computer but for different users? i.e. have icons in my quick launch menu which log me in with a click to user1 or user2?

I have a computer which is used for several specific purposes, accessed only by remote desktop (i.e. it sits in a back room and is rarely used in person).

I want to be able to quickly access each of the individual accounts by saving an RDP file and then shortcutting to that from my quick launch bar.

So I enter the credentials for user1 and "save as" the RDP file as username1.rdp and drag it onto the quick launch bar.

Clicking on this RDP logs me in to user1's account.

Then I open remote desktop again, enter the credentials for user2 and save username2.rdp.

When I click on username2.rdp, I get instantly logged in to user2's account.

So far so good.

But if I close that and click on username1.rdp, I get logged into user2. If I manually change the credentials by opening remote desktop and enter the credentials to user 1, username1.rdp will on the next attempt log me into user1's account, as does username2.rdp.

So saving a connection doesn't save the credentials, it possibly saves the computer I'm logging into, but not the user.

Am I doing it wrong or does an RDP file just not contain credentials? Is there some way I can set it up so I can one-click log in via several icons to any one of several accounts?
posted by Mokusatsu to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
dunno about vista, but it sure can be done in xp and others. try clicking the options>>> button when youre being asked for the address to connect to.
posted by 3mendo at 12:39 PM on June 30, 2009

by the way, you can manually edit your .rdp files -- they're just ascii. here's a snippet from a rdp file on my desktop:

autoreconnection enabled:i:1
alternate shell:s:
shell working directory:s:
password 51:b:01000000D08C9DDF0115D1118C7A00C04FC297EB010000000244BBD6426A1majorsnippage0
disable wallpaper:i:1

so if all else fails, try editing the rdp files directly.
posted by 3mendo at 12:46 PM on June 30, 2009

So saving a connection doesn't save the credentials, it possibly saves the computer I'm logging into, but not the user.

I think the hash in the rdp file is encrypted with your own credentials so if Joe sends you an rdp with his password in there, Windows will say "Hey I cant decrypt this" and remove it from the rdp file. Or if you try to save as user2 then it will say "Hey, this isnt you" and not save it. Is user1 in this example the same login as the machine youre on?
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:20 PM on June 30, 2009

Thanks for the info that the RDP files are ASCII. I opened one up in notepad, the file contains no login information, just the IP address of the machine and a bunch of stuff like the window size etc.

I can of course manually choose which address I can log into with the options dialog, as per your first suggestion, but that isn't what I wanted. I wanted to be able to do a one click login to each account.

Click on an icon (a shortcut to an RDP file) in my quick launch, it logs me into user1's account on the remote machine. When I'm done and have closed RD, I click on the adjacent shortcut and get logged into user2's account. Of course since user info isn't stored in the RDP file I guess this just can't be done via any option with saving an RDP file, it might be a more elaborate hack.

FYI this is the full RDP file content. Apart from the IP address, the rest seems to be graphical settings, printer and drive sharing etc. Usernames and passwords are clearly stored elsewhere. Does anyone know where, and if it might be possible to run a script or something which would change the credentials to the ones I want to log in with, and then run RDP? (i.e. my quick launch icons would link to a .cmd file which would first swap in the right credentials, then open the RDP shortcut.)

screen mode id:i:2
session bpp:i:32
full address:s:
autoreconnection enabled:i:1
authentication level:i:2
prompt for credentials:i:0
negotiate security layer:i:1
alternate shell:s:
shell working directory:s:
disable wallpaper:i:0
disable full window drag:i:0
allow desktop composition:i:1
allow font smoothing:i:1
disable menu anims:i:0
disable themes:i:0
disable cursor setting:i:0
posted by Mokusatsu at 4:22 PM on June 30, 2009

I almost forgot to mention, messing with rdp files gets annoying. Get yourself the Remote Desktop manager from the server 2003 admin pack. According to this you can run it on Vista. Setup as many different users and servers as you like. It'll save passwords and give you the option to log into the console too.
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:23 PM on June 30, 2009

Since you're using Vista, there should be an "Allow me to save credentials" checkbox just above where that "save as..." button is. Are you checking that off? Also, you should save the connection after you've logged in once and saved the credentials.

Damn dirty ape is right, you could also use the Remote Desktop manager, but I find it more annoying than creating RDP files in Vista. You should try it and see if you like it. It might work well for your situation.

You can use runas.exe saved in a shortcut pointing to the RDP in XP (I use it for management consoles), but then you'd still have to type in a password, and I don't think it works for Vista anymore.
posted by cathoo at 6:24 PM on June 30, 2009

I have one rdp file set up like this, and there is a line in there like this:


I would expect that if you added that to the file, and then clicked save password, it should work.

Try that, and then putting in the password, and then saving the credentials *before* logging into the machine.
posted by gjc at 7:51 PM on June 30, 2009

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