[Fix] Remote Desktop DPI scaling issues

Do you have a computer with High-DPI screen? A very high resolution display? And is everything too small to see within your Remote Desktop Connection, try this solution…

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This issue is caused by lack of not being DPI scaling aware of the Remote Desktop Client. If you open a Remote Desktop connection to a server or other computer the native resolution of the computer is used instead of the scaling to 1920×1080, so you’ll get very small icons etc.

Some other blogs mention to fix the issue with using Remote Desktop Connection Manager 2.7 or using RD Tabs.

Another solution where you don’t need extra tools or programs is to make a manifest file, see the steps below.

First tell Windows to look for a manifest file for an application by default. This can be done by setting a registry entry.

Open regedit and navigate to the registry key:
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\SideBySide
Right-click, select NEW -> DWORD (32 bit) Value
Type PreferExternalManifest and then press ENTER.
Right-click PreferExternalManifest, and then click Modify.
Enter Value Data 1 and select Decimal.
Click OK. Exit Registry Editor.

Next step is to make the manifest file, mstsc.exe.manifest. Copy the contents below and put it in Notepad or similar tool and save it to a file as %SystemRoot%\System32\mstsc.exe.manifest. Download of the file is also available, here. Important is that you save the file in the same directory as the Remote Desktop Client executable (mstsc.exe).

Note that you can use the manifest for other applications also that aren’t scaling aware.

  • Raphael Silva ?

    Thanks so much for this =P

  • David Brown

    If you check http://schemas.microsoft.com/SMI/2005/WindowsSettings, it says “The resource you are looking for has been removed, had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.”… I’ve seen “http://schemas.microsoft.com/SMI/2011/WindowsSettings” referenced elsewhere, but it also says the same thing. Any ideas on where this would have moved?

  • Bee Kay

    This is fantastic! I’ve sought a usable solution for this problem since I got my laptop and this fixes everything. Thanks!

  • srparent

    Well, it looks like this works if I’m remoting into a Windows 10 machine but not Windows 7. 🙁

    • Bruce

      This works fine for me from Windows 10 to Windows 7, although the first time I tried it it did not. A reboot was necessary.

  • George Streeter

    Well this was working great on my clients Surface tablets for the last year or so. Now today’s windows update removed the registry setting and if you put it back in the mstsc app throws an exception error. Removing the updates fixed it but not sure what update it was. Sucks that MS can’t do a better job with updates.

  • Lee, JongEun

    Great!! 감사합니다^^

  • Dlp K

    I found a couple of solutions to fix this. The problem is caused due to high resolution display. So, to fix this you can just go to display setting -> advanced display settings and change the resolution from 3840 X 2160 to 1920 X 1080 and then you should be fine. If you don’t want to downgrade the resolution there is another hack. You can connect to an external monitor with low resolution (1920X10280) and login to the remote desktop from the extended screen then disconnect the monitor or move the RD window to your laptop screen and you will see the scaling is good.

  • Saad Masood

    Great share! This worked for me on my Lenovo Yoga 3 QHD+
    Thanks a bunch!

  • DucatiGuy

    Thanks Branko! You saved my beautiful new Yoga 3 from a dreadful end, I’ve been looking for this solution on and off for years but it became non-optional after upgrading to a high res screen.

    Just a note: This took a few minutes to start working for me, although it worked immediately if I ran mstsc.exe from the System32 folder, when I clicked on an .rdp file elsewhere it did not take effect at first. I suspect mstsc.exe was being cached somewhere and didn’t restart until I’d closed all existing connections and waited a couple of minutes.

  • Eric Phan www.ssw.com.au

    Thanks! This was super useful for my SurfacePro 4. I was going blind trying to read the tiny text on the high DPI screen.

  • Martin Yordanov

    YOU ARE AMAZING !!!! THANKS SOOOOOOOO MUCH, WORKS LIKE A CHARM !

  • paul s

    First off, great fix!

    The only issue that I’ve seen is that the RDP session is fixed to the main screen – it won’t allow you to move windows between monitors. Anyone have a fix for this?

  • Sam

    Verified that this solution works for RDP on Window 7 x64, but causes problems with other applications. The Resource Monitor (resmon.exe) won’t start and the calendar on the taskbar doesn’t work anymore.

    Had to set PreferExternalManifest back to 0 to get these working again.

  • bat9991

    Thank you! You are awesome!
    I have been struggling with this for years I have used Remote Desktop Manager 2.2 but now that is gone and 2.7 is really unusable.

    Your solution fixes it!
    I use SurfaceBook (up to date) and it worked no issues

  • Poda

    Thanks Branko you are the man. Much appreciated.

  • Nil

    This is great. Works on a windows 10, it seems to reduce the resolution on the windows device I am connecting to taking into account my local scaling. I am using a surface pro 4 with 200% scaling and when I connect to a remote windows device it reduces the resolution and makes it full screen and keeps the remote scaling to 100%.
    So now I don’t have to keep changing my local resolution, fantastic.

  • Devendra Kumar

    I am connecting using HOBlink JWT so the above solution does not work. However, realize the font and icon scaling in Surface pro is 200% so I did the same for the remote PC and able to work on using surface pro

  • Wilfred

    Great fix!!! This worked perfectly when I was in a pinch setting up a surface pro tablet for a client.

  • billbillbillbill

    Did not work. Using Windows 7 x64 to try to remote to Windows 10.. no change from default behaviour.

  • Pieter

    Great, this is a life saver! Strangely enough, I only needed to use the manifest file. My Registry does not have the SideBySide key, so I tried it without changing the registry.

  • MihaInfo

    This is working for me on windows 10, but in windows 7 this doesnt work. Ive done everything you said, registry, manifest, even the update that is recomended for this for win 7, rebooted computer,… Is there any idea why this doesnt work?

  • Jean-François Ameye

    This works fine except when the Remote Desktop displays the “Do you trust this remote connection?” dialog, when connecting to a server for the first time. When I use the manifest, this dialog never appears so it seems as if nothing happens when you click Connect. I had hope that your file would solve this problem as it is more complete than the one I was using, but it is the same behavior… Do you also have this problem?
    (I have Windows 10, up-to-date, on a Surface Pro 4)
    Thanks

  • Christian Krebs

    You made my day!!! Thank You!!! Works perfect on my Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 460 with Windows 10 pro!!!

  • mart4494

    Thank you for
    posting this solution which I was using until Win10 AU arrived and 4k
    was certainly an improvement even with the text bumped up to 150%.

    It is no longer possible to save the registry entry
    PreferExternalManifest as Value: 1 (Decimal). It automatically defaults
    Hexadecimal. No idea why but with a couple of (must have) legacy
    programs on the PC then I’m stuck with 1080p.

    Shame but that’s life until another solution is found or avoid the
    Win10 AU and any update onwards. I have no idea why, I presume MS,
    introduced this restriction to a straightfoward registry addition.

    • joshjje

      1 is the same number in both Decimal and Hexadecimal. If you notice when you change it back and forth with a larger number it converts it back and forth. Underneath they are all in one format.

  • Piotr Borys

    I did this on Windows 7 64-bit and it didn’t help. Any ideas? Also we have nested RDP and it has same too high DPI.

  • Kyle Cole

    Outstanding!!
    Struggled for years for a solution and tried everything else, this worked great!

  • James Bond

    Works great on my Surfacebook. It was maddening. FYI, You’ll have to re-apply the registry key after the win 10 creators update.

  • redt

    This is great. Works on a Surfacebook with windows 10 pro.

  • Carlos Nunez

    It seems like this has stopped working with Win 10 build 16188.1000

  • Kyle Homstead

    After applying the Windows 10 version 1703 update, and re-applying the registry key, there is a new issue: the overall scaling/resolution looks fine, but the pointer arrow is tiny (the size it would be if the fix had not been applied). Any ideas?

  • Chris Jutting

    Tried this for a remote app we use and it made no difference. Does it only work when running remote desktop and not remote apps?

  • Tom

    Hi, it works on my Surface 4, but RDP is a blurry, any ideas?

  • urza23

    It kind of works, but the remote desktop is all blurry, it looks like someone took photoshop and applied blur filter on it. Terrible.