How to send Ctrl+Alt+Delete through Remote Desktop in Windows 8.1

Ah the beloved three-finger salute!

This well-known key combo can quickly extricate any computer geek from a bind but sometimes our tricky key trio doesn’t work as expected.

I want you to take another sip of coffee and then stop what your doing and imagine something with me:

It’s the end of a long day and you wish you were home on the sofa watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta (shhh… I know guys love this shit so don’t act like you only watch junk TV because your wife forces you).

But this hapless hour you’re in the office, in fact it fucking feels like you’re the only one in the office – working your ass off trying to fix a problem that’s been besieging you for weeks.

You flip open the lid of your Windows 8.1 laptop and kick open the Microsoft Terminal Services Client (MSTSC.exe).

Microsoft Terminal Services Client Window

After typing in the hostname of the remote computer you press enter and wait as the repeating progress bar glides to the right and then attempts to dupe you by moving from left to right again.

Connecting to computers via the Microsoft Terminal Services Client

The cycle loops and you begin to muse to yourself how this is actually a duplicitous “progress bar”.

A repeating “progress bar” is no different than an hourglass or spinning wheel yet the Remote Desktop progress bar has the temerity, no – the guile – to lead you to believe it’s getting closer to a connection.

You impetuously check your watch then murmur to yourself:

I swear… Microsoft is so stupid

After a few seconds you connect to the computer and spend about 10 minutes attacking the problem your boss dished to you before he dashed from his desk.

Where is that guy anyway? I bet he’s at home watching housewives. But wait… he’s single, so what’s his excuse?

After chuckling to yourself you begin to wrap things up and realize you would like to change the password of the remote account so you press Ctrl + Alt + Delete thinking it will conjure up the Task Manager screen of the remote computer.

But instead of doing the obvious, it conjures up the Task Manager on your local computer!


So you click the title bar of the remote client window to give it focus and then you retry the trusty Ctrl + Alt + Del key combo but the result is the same: the blasted command keeps getting sent to your local box.

It doesn’t seem to matter if the remote desktop window has the stage and is in focus.  Nor does it matter if the window is blown up full screen: no matter what you do Ctrl + Alt + Delete essentially says “hell no” to your polite request to affect the remote computer.

What to do?

Some people circumvent this problem by opening the on-screen keyboard and manually clicking the Ctrl, Alt and Del buttons on screen.

Super annoying I know and this may work for you but today I want to liberate you from your frustration by offering a better way.

The quickest way to avert the issue is to press Ctrl + Alt + End instead of Ctrl + Alt + Del.

Try it now.

Pressing Ctrl + Alt + End instead of Ctrl + Alt + Delete is the proper way to bring up the task manager in remote desktop sessions.

Finishing the day

Armed with your new Ctrl + Alt + End command, you change the account password, slam your laptop lid closed and rush home to catch the final minutes of your favorite reality show.

Image Credit AllAboutTheRHW

Shh… no one is watching you indulge hahah


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Posted in Windows, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Vista Tagged with: