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Smart Sizing Exposed in Remote Desktop UI, at last!

One of the coolest "little secret” features that has been in Windows since XP has been the ability for the RDP client to “smart size” or Scale the contents of the Remote Desktop to fit the boundary of the window as you drag the boarders around.  The problem is that there was no exposure in the client settings interface to turn it on.  So if you didn’t know it existed, you had no chance to discover it until you met someone like me who might have told you…  Well that’s about to change in Windows 8.

To use Smart Sizing in Windows XP or Windows 7 you would need to edit your .rdp files with notepad and type in the following line:

smart sizing:i:1

The next time you used that RDP file you could drag the boarders of the remote desktop and it would automatically scale to fit as you resized it.  Pretty cool stuff, but it required you to disconnect and reconnect if you wanted to change that property.  Read about it on the Terminal Server blog form 2008.

If you have taken the plunge and installed the Windows 8 Release Preview when you launch Remote Desktop you’ll get the traditional Windows MSTSC.exe client.  The Metro Remote Desktop application that was in the Developer Preview and Computer Preview has been removed from the start menu and is now available from the Productivity section of the Store.

image

You’ll also notice that the Settings GUI hasn’t changed almost at all with the exception of the Experience tab which now has the option to “Detect connection quality automatically” as the new default.

image

Once you have connected to a Remote Desktop, you can click the Icon in the Title Bar and you’ll discover a new option: Smart sizing!!  Clicking that will flip between a “static resolution” and dynamically fit to the window, on-the-fly!

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I have been asking for this for a long time and I am thrilled to see it!  There’s also some more options available when connected to Windows 8 or Windows Server 2012 endpoints which give you clickable access to some of the Metro components like the Start menu and Charms bar.

When in full screen these options are also available from the in-RDP title bar

image

Anyway, I just thought those were some great little touches that have been added in RDP8.

N’joy!

 
 

Infrastructure Architect and Server Team Lead at Concurrency. Shannon is an MVP in Forefront and Enterprise Security, MCSE in Private Cloud and MCSA Windows Server 2012. He's also a self-professed media junkie. Just ask him about MediaCenter!

Find Shannon on: Linkedin

 
  • David Balažic

    And when they add the feature of changing the remote desktop size by simple resizing the RDP client window, that would be excellent!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1595198667 G.h. McConnell

    Well, it’s nearly a year later and I’m now using Remote Desktop for work. When I select Smart Sizing, the remote desktop icons/windows/fonts become “squished” – it doesn’t help at all. I am on Windows 8 and the computer I’m remoting in to is XP. Any way to have Smart Sizing work without distorting the destination desktop?

    • http://twitter.com/MrShannonFritz MrShannon

      If the destination desktop is higher resolution than the local desktop, then yeah, the contents are going to get “squished” to fit. That’s kind of the purpose is to fit the native resolution in a smaller window. If you want to be in a window but not scaled to fit, then you don’t want Smart Sizing, you want to change the resolution on the Display tab of the RDP connection (before you connect). Set it to a fixed resolution that you like.

  • John Galt

    While this is nice, the real power would be to be able to set say 1024×768 as the remote resolution and have it go full screen and scale everything up so that the Surface Pro for instance had usable RDP.

    • Shannon Fritz

      You can set the resolution to be used through the MSTSC client UI, but that will only let you use the current resolution of your monitor an lower. I usually use 1440×900 myself.

      If you want, you can also create a custom resolution, including something higher than your local resolution and then use Smart Sizing to scale it to fit. What you do is open the MSTSC client, click Show options, then on the Display tab set the resolution to something other than Full Screen. Then go back to the General tab and click “Save As…” and write the .RDP file someplace like your desktop. Now open Notepad and open the RDP file (or just drag the file into Notepad). you’ll see all the settings in plain text. look for the two lines that define the resolution and change it to whatever you like.

      desktopwidth:i:1440
      desktopheight:i:900

      Save the file and double click it to connect at that resolution now.

      You can also edit the hidden default.rdp in your My Documents to set the preferred resolution on all your RDP connections.

      • James Hancock

        The problem is that this doesn’t fix the scaling issue for high DPI displays connected to REmote Desktops that are not in high DPI mode. RDP needs to handle this automatically and gracefully.

  • John Galt

    While this is nice, the real power would be to be able to set say 1024×768 as the remote resolution and have it go full screen and scale everything up so that the Surface Pro for instance had usable RDP.

    • Shannon Fritz

      You can set the resolution to be used through the MSTSC client UI, but that will only let you use the current resolution of your monitor an lower. I usually use 1440×900 myself.

      If you want, you can also create a custom resolution, including something higher than your local resolution and then use Smart Sizing to scale it to fit. What you do is open the MSTSC client, click Show options, then on the Display tab set the resolution to something other than Full Screen. Then go back to the General tab and click “Save As…” and write the .RDP file someplace like your desktop. Now open Notepad and open the RDP file (or just drag the file into Notepad). you’ll see all the settings in plain text. look for the two lines that define the resolution and change it to whatever you like.

      desktopwidth:i:1440
      desktopheight:i:900

      Save the file and double click it to connect at that resolution now.

      You can also edit the hidden default.rdp in your My Documents to set the preferred resolution on all your RDP connections.

  • ubreak

    thank you… this helped a lot!!!

  • ubreak

    thank you… this helped a lot!!!

  • http://www.cloudstaff.com/ Hoyt Velasquez

    A very informative read on remote desktops. Thanks for posting a useful post.

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  • Gautam

    mstsc /span

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