Operating RDP Client for Mac and macOS – A Step-by-Step Guide

In the fast-paced landscape of the modern world, as technology continues to grow, so does the need for a more seamless workflow. Post-2020, individuals and businesses alike began to gear towards more remote working environments as opposed to the regular onsite office workspaces that were once the norm. 

Companies such as Apple and Microsoft, which were previously considered incompatible, now offer applications that allow users to transition and work through both devices seamlessly. In this article, you will learn how to use an RDP client for macOS.

What is RDP?

Remote desktop protocol (RDP) is a secure network communications protocol developed by Microsoft that gives users remote access to their physical work desktop computers. This tool allows users to connect to a remote Windows PC via the internet or a local network and gain complete access to the tools and software installed on it. Peripherals like your keyboard and mouse are also shared with the remote system, allowing you to use and operate them freely.

This proprietary protocol rivals the open-source Virtual Network Computing (VNC) protocol commonly used on Linux and other platforms.

RDP is commonly utilized by individuals working from home or traveling who need access to their work computers. RDP is also often used by support technicians who need to diagnose and repair a user’s system remotely. Admins also use RDP in providing system maintenance.

Using the Remote Desktop tool is relatively easy to understand. It allows you to connect to a Windows PC over the internet and use it as if it were in front of you. In order for this connection to work, however, there must be an RDP server and an RDP client. 

These two compartments are the most critical aspects of the entire process. The RDP server is the Windows PC to which the connection will be made. The RDP client is the device being used to connect to and subsequently control the server, which in this case is the Apple MacBook.

Only computers running Windows or Windows Server OS can make remote connections using RDP because it is a protocol built only into the Windows interface. Even at that, some versions of Windows, such as Windows 10 Home, do not support running them as an RDP server. Windows 10 Home can only be used as a client to connect to other Windows Remote Desktops, not the other way around.

Establishing RDP connections to a secure enterprise network from a remote location requires a Remote Desktop Gateway service installed and configured on a suitable Windows Server installation. This also improves security by eliminating the need for an internal virtual private network (VPN).

How To Enable RDP On Windows

In order to use the RDP to connect to another device, the first step is to enable “Remote Desktop” on the remote PC. This feature must be enabled on the remote PC for the RDP connections to occur successfully. 

To enable Remote Desktop on Windows PC:

Step 1: Open the Start Menu by clicking the Start button on the lower left corner of your screen or by clicking the Windows button on your keyboard.

Step 2: Click the Settings button.

Step 3: Select System from the Windows Settings screen.

Step 4: Scroll down the left-side menu until you locate Remote Desktop, then click it. 

Step 5: Toggle the Enable Remote Desktop from off to on to activate it.

Step 6: Beneath “How to connect to this PC,” you’ll find the name needed when utilizing the Microsoft Remote Desktop app.

Step 7: Default settings allow computer administrators to automatically access the computer remotely (to ensure you’re listed as an admin, check the User accounts section).

NOTE: To enable non-administrative users to gain remote access capabilities, manually add them via the “Select users that can remotely access this PC” link.

The Windows computer should now be ready for a Mac-to-PC remote desktop connection.

Users will only need to complete these steps once on the remotely accessed machine, after which all subsequent remote sessions will connect automatically without further configuration.

How to connect through RDP from macOS?

Unlike Windows, macOS lacks a built-in application for establishing RDP connections. Hence, navigate to the App Store on your MacBook and install Microsoft Remote Desktop

Once the installation process is completed, follow the steps below: 

Step 1: Open the Microsoft Remote Desktop.

Step 2: Click on the “+” icon to open a drop-down menu that will display “Add PC” and “Add Workspace.”

windows remote desktop for mac

Step 3: Click Add PC.

Step 4: Type in the IP address section of the RDP server into the PC name field.

Step 5: Select User Account. This allows you to add a user account, meaning you will not be asked to input your username and password every time you log in. If you wish to avoid adding a User Account, skip this step. 

Step 6: Input the username and password of the RPD server. Here you are also given the option of setting a “friendly name” for the account being created. Since the default name of PCs can be hard to remember, a friendly name could be an easier way to remember and keep track of all the users.

Step 7: Click Add to create the RDP connection, which will appear in the Desktops list on the default interface. You can change the rest of the settings later on if you desire.

Step 8: Right-click and click Connect to choose your newly installed connection on the default page. If you skip step 6, you’ll be prompted to enter a username and password.

Step 9: Click on Continue, and now you can control the Windows device from your MacBook.

Establishing A Secure RDP Connection

You must note that before you enable an RDP connection, you should take certain precautions, as activating any remote connection presents a vulnerability that could be exploited. Here are some precautionary steps to ensure you establish a secure RDP connection:

Use A Strong Password

Strong passwords on any accounts with access to Remote Desktop should be considered a required step before enabling Remote Desktop. Always ensure your passwords are at least eight characters long and contain a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. It is also essential to remember that you should avoid re-using old passwords. You can make use of a password manager to help manage and organize your passwords.

Enable Network Level Authentication

Network Level Authentication (NLA) is default supported by Windows 10, Windows Server 2012 R2/2016/2019, and newer versions. It is preferable to leave this feature enabled because NLA adds an extra degree of authentication before a connection can be established. 

Update Your Software

One advantage of utilizing Remote Desktop over third-party remote admin solutions is that components are automatically updated with the most recent security changes as part of the usual Microsoft patch cycle. Enable and audit automatic Microsoft Updates to ensure you run the most recent client and server software versions. If you use Remote Desktop clients on other systems, ensure they are still supported and have the most recent versions. Older versions may lack high encryption and pose certain security issues.


Gone are the days when Apple and Windows devices were separated by a wall that did not allow users to use both devices in unison. With the RDP, it has become possible to operate your Windows PC through your MacBook; through this article, you now know how to carry out this operation.

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