How to set up a remote desktop connection via your iPad – for free

The iPad is a lot of fun for playing games, watching videos and browsing the Web. But if you’re going to justify that shiny tablet as a business expense, you’ll need the ability to actually get some work done on it.

Connecting remotely to your Windows desktop is one productivity feature you can add to your iPad. Imagine being able to call up that important spreadsheet while you’re on the go, or check your e-mail in your native Outlook client. You can even use the applications installed on your PC with a remote desktop connection, all the while using the iPad’s slick touch-screen interface and on-screen keyboard.

There’s a couple of apps that will let you do this. LogMeIn Ignition is a good one, but it costs $30. You can save that money for buying more games. Today, I’m going to show you how to set up a remote desktop connection with your iPad for free. You’ll need to download Thinstuff’s free “iRdesktop” application from the App Store to get started.

If you need more help getting your remote desktop connection to work, try reading up on Thinstuff’s extensive support Web site.

Related Video: Get iPad to run Windows 7, Microsoft Office with Citrix Receiver

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to set up your PC to receive remote desktop connections.

Go to “My Computer”, right-click and select “Properties”. Now click on the “Remote Settings” link and under the “Remote Desktop” section, choose to allow connections. Save that option and close the window.

Next, you’ll need your IP address. If you’re only going to connect to your computer from the same network, you can get this from the command prompt. Just type “cmd” in the search field on Windows’ Start Menu to open this. Next, type in “ipconfig”. The address you’ll want to note is the IPv4 address.

If you want to set-up a remote desktop connection for outside Internet connections, make note of the “default gateway” address. You’ll need to set up port forwarding with your router if you want to access your computer from other locations. The set up for this changes depending on what type of router you have, so look for port forwarding instructions in your devices’ manual.

Also, if you want to connect to your desktop from an outside connection, you’ll need your computer’s external IP address. You can find this easily by typing in to your Web browser.

Now we have everything you need to access your Windows desktop from your iPad. Open up iResktop and click on the “New” button in the top-left corner. Give your connection any title you like. It’s important to enter the right hostname, as well as the correct user name, password, and domain for the Windows User Account you’re accessing.

For the hostname, enter in the IPv4 address you got from ipconfig earlier. Or if you’re accessing the computer from an outside network, enter in the external IP address you got at

For a better experience, set your colours to “thousands” and resolution to “1024 x 768”, which is the iPad’s native resolution. If you find your connection is lagging, you can decrease the colours and performance for a better experience.

Save your settings and you’re ready to connect. Just tap your title from the main screen here. Once you’re logged in, you have full access to your Windows desktop. You can access your files and use your applications. You can even type using the virtual keyboard.

Now you’re ready to get some work done!

Brian Jackson is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter, read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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