How To Enable Remote Desktop In Windows Server 2016

By default in Windows Server 2016 remote desktop is disabled.

Here we cover how to turn on and enable remote desktop protocol (RDP).

Note: In Windows Server 2016 Essentials edition, remote desktop is already enabled by default so you will not need to manually do this.

Remote desktop can be enabled through the graphical user interface (GUI) with the following easy steps.

Allowing Remote Desktop

  1. Open Server Manager. By default Server Manager will open when you log in to the GUI, otherwise you can select it from the task bar.
  2. Within the Server Manager window, select Local Server from the left hand side. You may need to wait a little for it to detect the current state of your system. You should see that Remote Desktop is listed as Disabled as shown below.

    Enable Remote Desktop Server Manager Check Status

  3. Click on the Disabled text which will open the System Properties window in the Remote tab.
  4. From the System Properties window, select “Allow remote connections to this Computer” as shown below.

    Allow remote connections to this computer

    Tip: You can also open the System Properties window shown above by entering “SystemPropertiesRemote” into a Command Prompt or PowerShell terminal.

  5. Once you select “Allow remote connections to this computer” the below warning message will appear, advising that this will create the required firewall rules in Windows firewall to allow remote desktop traffic in from any source address, select OK to proceed.

    Enable Remote Desktop Add Firewall Rule

  6. At this point you can optionally click the “Select Users…” button to define specific users or groups that have permission to connect via remote desktop. Select the OK button to close out of the System Properties window and enable remote desktop.
  7. Back in Server Manager, Remote Desktop may still show as Disabled until you refresh the view. After clicking the refresh button as highlighted below, the status should update to Enabled.

    Enable Remote Desktop Server Manager Check Status

That’s it, remote desktop should now be ready to use!


By default Windows Server 2016 sets external remote desktop access to disabled as a security measure, we can easily optionally enable it from within the server console to everyone or a specific set of users or groups.

Leave a comment ?


  1. francesca giovannoni

    is this ttue also for the essentials version licence?

    • I just installed Essentials in a virtual machine to test for you, by default remote desktop is already enabled so there’s no need to manually turn it on.

  2. How do you enable windows 7 systems to RDP into a 2016 Windows Server. I can RDP successfully from windows 10

  3. Thank you for this tutorial. BTW how can I enable task manager for rds users? Only by entering administrator password they can access task manager. I have to enable this resource like it was on ws2012. Users must have permission to manage their own processes only.

  4. look here the screen shot (as a side note, in the network file sharing i can access files)

    • In the Windows Server 2016 virtual machine have you enabled RDP? Check the Windows firewall rules and ensure this is allowing inbound port 3389 access, if you’re unsure you can temporarily disable the firewall to see if it makes a difference or not. You could also try turning off NLA in the RDP options on the server. Can you see an event when this happens in the logs in the server? Have a look in event viewer.

  5. enabled that rule & it started to work, thanks.

  6. Additionally, you can use tools like logmein, R-HUB remote support servers etc. for remotely accessing Windows 2016 server. They work well.

  7. ‘How To Enable Remote Desktop In Windows Server 2016’ that’s what I wanted not know not ‘How to connect via remote desktop to the server’…which is what this article explains!! Hmmph!!

  8. Thanks its helps me a lot

  9. In addition to the above (on Windows Server 2016) I had to add the user to:

    “Local Security Policy” -> “Security Settings” -> “Local Policies” -> “User Rights Assignment” -> “Allow log on through Remote Desktop Services”

  10. Don’t forget to set up a forwarder in your router if you are going to do this. RDP doesn’t automatically know what your internal server IP address is until you do so. You can go to to get your WAN IP address.

  11. win7 (in workgroup) needs to connect via RDP to win2016 server -> user is domain admin account – connection refused

  12. Access to my local client drives and clipboard are not available when connecting to Windows 2016 virtual machine. Client options have been enabled to allow this. Any help is appreciated

  13. Hello, Do you need CAL to access Remote Desktop? Thanks

  14. Hi everybody! why server 2016 doesn’t need reboot after remote desktop enabled. Can you help me please?

  15. If you are in an active directory environment ( domain controller ) , go to computer you are trying to remote into control Panel > System and Security > System > Advanced system settings > Remote >
    On the remote desktop select the ” Allow connection from computers running any version of remote Desktop ( less secure ) this option is less secure but works . Make sure nothing else is selected in the remote desktop uncheck everything else .

    Also check the Remote desktop Services is running , if it’s not start the service . If it’s already running try refreshing it by restarting it .

  16. it worked for me.. Thank you

  17. Do you know how to configure groups or users, other than Administrators, to automatically run an application when logging in via Windows Remote Desktop Client, and to be signed out when they close that application. I don’t want these users to have access to the desktop or any other application. This is Windows Server 2016.

  18. Does contabo window 2016 VPS server comes with RDP connection information? Please I really wanna know because I don’t know how to configure root vps

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