New technologies are filling the gaps between Microsoft and Apple operating systems, allowing users to switch between them and have more freedom to share and connect. Although we still need third-party apps to connect a PC to a Mac, it’s not a far-fetched dream anymore!

You can easily connect your Mac computer to any other operating system, like Windows, using RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol). You don’t necessarily need a Windows operating system to access Windows applications or connect to a Windows server. Setting up an RDP connection on your Mac will allow you to access remote servers and apps. 

This guide outlines a step-by-step guide to help you install and set up a Remote Desktop Connection to access files, applications, and other resources on your Microsoft PC. Stay tuned!

System requirements to RDP from Mac computers

Before jumping into the steps, there are some system requirements you’ll have to meet before being able to set up RDP. These requirements are also necessary to have full control over client computers.

  • Your Mac must be running OS X 10.10.5 or newer.
  • If you want to access another Mac computer, ensure it runs the latest version of the Apple Remote Desktop app (version 3.6 or newer).
  •  If you want to access a Linux or Windows operating system from a Mac, ensure it has VNC (Virtual Network Computing) or compatible apps already installed. 

How to RDP from Mac using the Microsoft Remote Desktop app

As you may know, the Microsoft Remote Desktop app is not installed on your Mac computer by default. So, the first step is to find, download and install the app. Follow the below steps to connect your Mac to a Windows PC.

  • Install RDP software from the Mac App Store.

So, the first thing you need to do is to open the App Store by clicking its icon on your dock. Then: 

  • Search for the Microsoft Remote Desktop application using the top left search bar.
  • Find the exact app and click the Get button on its right side (if you’ve had it on your device before, you’ll see a little cloud icon instead). 

After that, the app will automatically get installed on your computer. Use the menu bar to search for the app. You can even drag Microsoft Remote Desktop software to your dock to access it more easily from now on.

  • Insert the client computer’s credentials.

Click open the application, then go through the following steps to RDP from Mac:

  • On the top bar of the application, select PCs.
  • Click the Add PC button.
  • In the following window, insert your PC name or IP address, click the Reconnect if the connection is dropped option if unchecked, then choose Add to finish the process.

You may need a username and password before accessing the client’s computer. Make sure the credentials are correctly specified before confirming the configuration.

  • Configure your desired display settings before hitting Add

From the Add PC window, you can configure a few more display options to access the client’s computer to your liking. 

For that, apply any of the following options before allowing the connection:

  • Choose Display from the grey middle bar, then click Start session in full screen. You can also click the Update the session resolution on the resize checkbox if you are trying to access Windows 8.1 or later.
  • Choose Devices and Audio from the grey middle bar and choose your desired redirect settings, like printers, if needed.
  • Last, you can select a redirected folder from your local device to be available during the remote session.
  • Enable remote desktop access on the client’s PC

If you were, for any reason, unable to RDP from Mac through the previous steps, the client’s computer is most likely the cause. Remote desktop access is by default blocked on Windows devices, especially Windows 10 and 11.

Therefore, if you face such a problem, follow these steps to enable access and prevent it in the foreseeable future:

  • Click the Start menu on your target PC and select Settings.
  • Choose the System option from the left sidebar, scroll down and select Remote Desktop.
  • In the following window, toggle the Remote Desktop option to enable access from another computer.
  • Turn off sleep mode on your target PC

If the client’s PC is on automatic sleep mode, your connection will get interrupted, or you won’t be able to access it again after a couple of hours of disconnection.

To prevent this, turn off sleep mode on your target computer by going through these steps:

  • Click the Start menu and choose Settings.
  • Select System from the left side, then choose Power and Battery on the right bar.
  • Under Power in Windows 11, click Screen and Sleep to expand the menu.
  • Click the little arrow next to (On battery power, put my device to sleep after), and choose Never from the drop-down menu.
  • Repeat the previous step for the option when plugged in; put my device to sleep after) option.

Following these steps, you’ll have successfully turned off sleep mode and can now RDP from Mac without any problem.

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How to RDP from Mac to Linux

Remote accessing a Linux PC from a Mac is just as easy as Windows. All you have to do is use the Microsoft Remote Desktop app on Mac and go through the same steps you went through when connecting to a Windows computer.

However, there’s a slight difference between accessing a Windows PC and a Linux PC. On Linux operating systems, you’ll have to install XRDP to allow access from a remote computer. Here, we’ll only focus on Ubuntu. 

First, you’ll need to access your Linux target PC and execute the following command:

sudo apt install xrdp

That’s it!

Now, you can use your Mac device to connect to an Ubuntu machine. Open the Microsoft RDP app, type in the credentials, and hit connect to access the Linux PC easily.

Bottom line

The history of long gaps between Apple Macintosh and other operating systems has made users think there’s no way to connect a Mac to a Windows or Linux PC. However, this belief is far from true.

You can access other operating systems from a Mac, just as on a Windows PC. This guide will help you through the process in a few steps with the help of third-party apps like Microsoft Remote Desktop.

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