Updated on in

Windows Remote Desktop File Transfer: Detailed How-to guide

Author: Helga York
Helga York Article author

Windows Remote Desktop Connection (RDC), is a tool used to remotely connect to, view, and manage a remote Windows desktop. While sharing data from a remote computer to a local desktop has its challenges, learning how to copy files from a remote desktop to a local machine is a simple matter with the help of RDC.

For anyone interested in RDP file transfer capabilities to access folders, apps, or files from a remote PC, users must first configure their RDC setup.

Useful tip:  Consider opting for a third-party solution like HelpWire to simplify the file transfer process. This entirely free remote desktop service enables direct file transfers to a client’s remote desktop. With HelpWire, you can conveniently send files by just dropping them into a remote session window, eliminating the need for intermediate storage or the use of file hosting services.

How to copy files with Remote Desktop Connection

  1. Run Remote Desktop Connection. Users can find RDC from the Start menu, or by searching for the following: “mstsc” / “remote desktop” / “RDC”.

     RDC is fairly straightforward upon the first launch. Usually, it’s necessary to enter an IP address for the desired remote PC, then hit “Connect”. However, if the user wants to let their remote desktop copy files, there are some additional steps required.


    open remote desktop connetion
  2. Click “Show Options” within the RDC window (this displays the RDC configuration options).

    remote desktop connection show options
  3. Go to the “Local Resources” tab (this will take you to the sharing settings for the remote session). In the “Local devices and resources” tab, click “More” (see below).

    local resources remote desktop
  4. Click the “+” arrow beside “Drives” to show more options. Users can share available Windows drives, portable storage drives (like flash drives), and optical drives (CDs, DVDs, DVD drives, etc) that they may want to utilize down in the future. Check any desired boxes to share storage with the remote computer and hit “Ok”.

    remote desktop share files
  5. Return to the “General” tab once satisfied with the drive sharing settings.

  6. Enter the IP address of the remote computer into the “Computer” box (located under the section “Logon settings” (see below).

  7. Hit “Connect” to establish the connection.

    rdc connect to remote computer
  8. Open the “Windows File Explorer” after connecting to the remote device (do this by right-clicking the Start menu > File Explorer). Users should see all shared devices in the “Redirected drives and folders” section.

    browse shared drives remote desktop
  9. Drag files between folders and drives as desired.

Please Note:   If users receive a message reading: “Destination Folder Access Denied” when attempting to transfer files, it may be necessary to restart the RDP session. Users should then run the Remote Desktop Connection application as an administrator.

How to copy files between local and remote PC with Windows 10 Remote Desktop app

Local drivers used to show up in the remote sessions “File Explorer” tree view panel (in older versions of RDC clients).

This once permitted users (especially those interested in letting their RDP copy files) to open local drives from a remote system via File Explorer.

Windows’ new Remote Desktop app (found on the Microsoft Store) does not function in the same way.

Now the question is: how does someone use Remote Desktop to copy and paste files between a local and remote device?

According to Microsoft, it was once completely impossible. Previously, users could only paste text (not files) between sessions.

Microsoft’s solution?

Use the old application: Remote Desktop Connection.

Excitingly, the most recent versions of the app (10.1.1107 or later) offer this essential sharing feature.

Follow the steps below to copy files with the Remote Desktop Windows 10 app:

Step 1: Add a new remote PC.

Step 2: After scrolling down a bit, select “Show more”.

Step 3: Turn the “Clipboard” switch to “On”.

windows 10 remote desktop copy files

Step 4: Hit “Save” then connect to the remote machine.

From there, it’s a straightforward process. Just copy the desired files, then paste them to a folder (or desktop) located on the remote computer.

Is Microsoft Remote Desktop file transfer possible only between Windows machines?

Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) lets a remote desktop share files to a local machine and utilizes the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) by Microsoft. Remote Desktop Protocol is available for all Windows 10 (and Windows Server) editions.

Conveniently, Microsoft provides RDP tools that enable users to access a Windows PC from a Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS device. Mac users can enable remote desktop connection file transfer, sharing the resources to a Windows machine via the “Redirection” tab inside the Remote Desktop app.

On Windows OS, Remote Desktop Connection (RDC) is built-in by default, allowing users to customize their file/folder sharing settings before connecting. From there, users can easily transfer files over RDP.

As you can see, learning how to transfer files over a remote desktop can be quite easy! We hope this guide into Remote Desktop Connection and the Remote Desktop app has given you the insight and confidence to experiment with even more of what remote desktop sessions have to offer.