How do I connect to and control a Windows user's Remote Desktop (RDP) session?



By default, RealVNC Server runs in Service Mode which will display the console session of the computer that you connect to. The console session is what you would see if you were physically sitting in front of the remote computer.

When there are active RDP sessions the console session will display a lock screen, which is what you will see when connecting to RealVNC Server in Service Mode.

To connect to an RDP session, you need to run RealVNC Server in User Mode.

User Mode requires a subscription that includes offline licensing

Starting User Mode

To start RealVNC Server in User Mode, run the vncserver.exe application located in C:\Program Files\RealVNC\VNC Server. This will start a User Mode instance for the user that runs it.

Note that running vncserver.exe will open a Command Prompt window - do not close this or the User Mode instance will stop.

To run User Mode without a Command Prompt window, you can use the following command:

start "" "C:\Program Files\RealVNC\VNC Server\vncguihelper.exe" "C:\Program Files\RealVNC\VNC Server\vncserver.exe"

Connecting to User Mode

User Mode will attempt to listen on port 5900 by default but this can be changed in RealVNC Server's Options. If you are running Service Mode on the same computer, you must change the port for User Mode.

To connect to your chosen port, in RealVNC Viewer add ":port" to the end of the connection address, e.g., when connecting.

Starting User Mode automatically when a user logs in

You can automate starting User Mode when a user logs in to their account on the remote computer, by saving the below command as a script (.bat) file and saving it to %appdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup for each user.

start "" "C:\Program Files\RealVNC\VNC Server\vncguihelper.exe" "C:\Program Files\RealVNC\VNC Server\vncserver.exe"

Note: Each User Mode must be assigned a unique port if running multiple User Mode instances concurrently on a single RealVNC Server computer.

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  • Grrrr ... another RealVNC "solution" that fails to mention it's only available in a higher tier pricing module. Yes, the information on this page probably does work but you have to have an Enterprise subscription. It will not work with a Home or Professional subscription. Having the right subscription plan is an essential part of this solution ... why would you not mention the requirement in the article?

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  • Hi Donnie,

    Thanks for the comment, I've updated the article.

    Jack N

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  • Hi Jack,
    I have a question, can you kindly answer it.
    Can User Mode achieve this effect?
    The administrator assigns two accounts and passwords to two users respectively. The users access the remote computer through their respective account passwords. The two people operate independent remote desktops and do not affect each other.
    Thanks a lot.

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