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).

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

  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.

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