Connecting to your On-Campus Windows Computer from your Mac at Home


These instructions will step you through the process of connecting from your off-campus Mac to your on-campus Windows computer. After connecting, you will be able to use your Windows computer as if you were sitting in front of it in your office or lab.

Make sure the computer is powered on

The computer to which you are connecting must be powered on and not asleep.

Make sure you have been given access

Normally connecting to a computer remotely is not allowed by Windows. To have your netid added to the list of those who can connect to a computer, use the support request form and include that you wish to set up Remote Desktop. If you are unsure of the name of the computer you want to connect to, that's okay -- we will contact you through email and give it to you. The computer name can also usually be found on a sticker somewhere on the front/top of the machine and has the Biology IT contact information on it. It is normally something like nr-abcd-504019.

Make sure you are connected to the VPN

Our on-campus computers do not allow any incoming connections from off-campus. When you connect to the VPN, it creates a Virtual Private Network: an encrypted tunnel between your off-campus computer and campus. This puts your computer virtually onto the campus network, and thus your on-campus computer will allow your incoming Remote Desktop connection.

To connect to the VPN, use Cisco AnyConnect VPN. If you are using a computer that we set up for you, Cisco AnyConnect is already installed. If you need instructions on how to connect on both University-owned and personal computers, please click here.

Make sure you have Microsoft Remote Desktop software

Microsoft Remote Desktop is the name of the program that allows you to display your Windows computer's desktop on your Mac. It does not come preinstalled but you can install it with Self Service. If you are not familiar with Self Service, instructions explaining how to install programs with it can be found at To summarize:

1. Open Finder > Applications

2. Double-click Self Service

3. After it opens, search for Microsoft Remote Desktop

4. Click Install.

Remote desktop in Self Service

Remote Desktop in Self Service1

Create a Remote Desktop shortcut pointing to your on-campus computer

To create a new connection, click the plus icon in the top left corner and select "Desktop"

Remote Desktop home screen

Fill in "PC name: " with the full hostname of the computer you are trying to remotely access. Your full hostname is usually the name of your computer plus the name of your subdomain. Examples:,, If you do not know what this is, we can send it to you. Clicking "Add" in the bottom right corner will add your computer to the list of computers you can connect to.

Connect to your computer using the shortcut you just made

Double click the computer from the list to start a remote connection and enter your credentials. Remember, you need to be on the VPN for this to work.

Remote desktop shortcuts screenshot

Note: If you get a prompt saying that "The certificate couldn't be verified back to a root certificate," click Continue. This is normal (if you want a long technical explanation ask Tyler or John). You should now be connected to your desktop.

Be Careful When You Disconnect

When you are finished using your computer, you have several options.

You can log off of your computer, which will close all your programs and end your session. To do this, click the Windows button, find your profile icon, and choose Sign out:

Sign out of Windows

Another option is to leave everything as-is (Word documents open, folders open) and just disconnect. When you reconnect later you will be in the same session and things will be just as they were. If you'd like to do this,click the Windows button in the bottom left corner. Select the power button from the pop-up list and click "Disconnect."

DO NOT CHOOSE SLEEP OR SHUT DOWN! If you choose one of these, you will not be able to reconnect to your computer because it will be sleeping or off!

Disconnect from Windows screenshot

If you need to restart the computer for some reason, this is okay. Your remote session will be terminated, but you will be able to remotely access the computer again after it has restarted.

Once you have disconnected from your computer, please also disconnect from the VPN.

If you have trouble with any of the above, please contact us and we will do our best to assist.