Microsoft releases Remote Desktop 8.0 for Android, iOS and Mac

Microsoft Remote Desktop ConnectionCoinciding with its release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft has released new versions of its Remote Desktop Client (RDC) for Android, iOS and Mac. This is the first major upgrade to RDC for Mac since version 2.0 was released in June 2008 and last updated in May 2011 and the first releases for Android and iOS.

RDC 8.0 for Mac includes some long awaited features including support for Mac OS X 10.7 and later. While RDC 2.1.1 for Mac would run on Lion and Mountain Lion, Microsoft wouldn’t support it and the software was prone to crashing. RDC 8.0 officially supports Mac OS X 10.6.8 and later and connecting to Windows Server 2000 and higher systems including professional versions of Windows XP and higher.

Additional new features include:

  • Support for Remote Desktop Gateway
  • Support for Windows gestures
  • Bookmarks for remote connections with the ability to duplicate a bookmark
  • Export and import of bookmarks
  • Support for practically unlimited screen resolutions
  • Support for redirecting multiple local folders to the remote host
  • Built-in option to connect to remote console sessions
  • Support for Mac OS X Full Screen
  • Keyboard shortcuts for scaling, full screen, editing bookmarks and starting sessions

Much of the new and newly updated RDC product line comes from Microsoft’s acquisition of intellectual property assets from Austrian company HLW Software Development with more than 1 million downloads of its products on Android and Apple platforms. According to Brad Anderson with the In The Cloud blog on Microsoft TechNext, these are “not v1 apps” but rather mature products that now fall under the Microsoft brand name.

Create a new connection

RDC 2.0 for Mac had a very simple interface, requiring only an IP address to make a basic connection. Maintaining multiple connections required saving each as a double-clickable file in the Finder. RDC 8.0 changes this behavior by presenting a main window with a bookmark list.

To create a new bookmark:

  1. Launch Microsoft Remote Desktop and click the New button.
    RDC main window
  2. Under the General tab enter the connection details for the remote server or workstation. Note that RDC 8.0 now supports connections via Microsoft Remote Desktop Gateway servers, a new feature.RDC General
  3. Under the Sessions tab choose sound output options and whether to connect to a Console session (the same session logged in while sitting in front of the computer). Choosing to forward printing devices makes the Mac’s printers available from the Windows session and swapping mouse buttons is useful for left-handed users.RDC session
  4. Add one or more folders under the Redirection tab by clicking the + button (plus) and choosing a top level, user level or any other folder on the Mac. This enables the remote Windows system to copy files to or from the Mac when connected.
    RDC redirection
  5. Close the Edit Remote Desktop window when done and the new connection appears in the bookmarks list. Drag one or more bookmarks up or down to rearrange bookmarks.
    RDC bookmark
  6. When ready to connect to the remote Windows server or workstation just double-click the bookmark in the list.
    RDC connected

Export and import bookmarks

RDC 8.0 supports transferring connection settings via .rdp files to share with other computers or other users. The .rdp files contain most but not all information such as the connection password and settings specific to the Mac user account. These files not only work on other Macs but also work with RDC for Windows. And .rdp files saved by RDC for Windows work with RDC for Mac.

To export bookmarks:

  1. Select one or more bookmarks in the Microsoft Remote Desktop main window and select File menu > Export. Optionally, right-click or Control-click the selected bookmarks and choose Export.
    RDC export
  2. Select a location to save the file. By default new .rdp files save to the Desktop folder. Click the Browse button to change folders. Click the OK button when done.
    RDC export save

To import bookmarks:

  1. In the Microsoft Remote Desktop application choose File menu > Import. Select the .rdp file and click the Open button.
    RDC import

  2. The new bookmark appears in the main window. Note the name itself doesn’t import and the new bookmark is only identifiable by its IP address. A future update may address this behavior.
    RDC import no name

Documentation and help

Microsoft has posted documentation on its TechNet site for all its new RDC products.

Customers can find support for all new Microsoft Remote Desktop products in its TechNet forums.


Microsoft Remote Desktop for AndroidiOS and Mac are free and available in each device app store. Just search for “Microsoft Remote Desktop”. RDC 8.0, however, is not available for direct download like earlier versions.

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6 comments to Microsoft releases Remote Desktop 8.0 for Android, iOS and Mac

  • Austria is not Australia.

    Austria is not Australia.

  • Biff

    Thanks for the post. I notice that Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0 won’t actually import .rdp files from the previous version of the Mac client, v.2.1.1, but it will import .rdp files generated on other platforms or by version 1.x of the Mac client.

    It turns out that the “.rdp” files created by version 2 of the Mac client aren’t actually in the RDP format, even if they use the .rdp filename extension. They are actually XML-formatted plist files, and they generally are not usable with any RDP clients other than the Mac v2 client and a small number of commercial, third party Mac RDP apps, like Remotix or Jump Desktop.

    It would be great if Microsoft would update MRD 8 with the ability to import the misleadingly named “.rdp” XML/plist files from the Mac version 2 client, or if someone could write a little script/program to convert the v.2 XML/plist file into a standard .rdp file, which is just a simple text file.

  • dan

    Have been trying to create an encrypted entry to the OSX bookmark .rdp file that would let me save the password in the binary format I believe is required.

    Mr. Smith, any idea if this is possible? Thanks

    • My understanding from the Windows side is any password saved in a .rdp file is hashed and that hash is created using a combination of your password and the identity of the current computer. That prevents you from copying the .rdp file to another computer and using it to connect without having to enter the password again.

      While I’ve found utilities to create the hash, they are for Windows only. I haven’t found a Mac utility to create this hash and therefore incorporate the identity of the current Mac.

      It would probably be possible to use the “security” command line tool to export the stored Keychain password to an encrypted file and then import that to another Mac as a means of transferring the password.

  • vmk0

    I´m curious where rdp 8.0 stores the bookmarks. Does anyone know? I know it´s easy to export them, but i would like to locate them in the filesystem as well. I´ve looked at all the usual places like in “application support”.