Quick tip: How to connect to your server via RDP on a Mac

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Tutorial Category Windows
Experience level Beginner


In this Quick Tip, I’ll show you what you need to do to connect to your Windows Server instance on AWS via RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol). Unlike Linux servers, Windows servers are generally accessed through the UI, rather than the command line.

Make sure your security groups are set up properly

When we set up a Linux server in a VPC on AWS, I ensured that the SSH port was open, so I could connect. SSH and RDP are not the same, so you need to make sure that your security group has an exception for RDP traffic:

Download Microsoft Remote Desktop

To complete this tutorial, you need to download Microsoft Remote Desktop. You can try to use Remote Desktop Connection (which probably came preinstalled with Office for Mac), but your mileage may vary!

Get the connection credentials

Navigate to your EC2 instances in your Amazon Console, and right click your Windows instance. Click Connect. You should see a dialog like the one below:

Click Get Password. You will need to browse to the location of the Key Pair you created before to unlock the password. Store the generated password in a safe place, you’ll need it in a moment.

Click Download Remote Desktop File. When the file has finished downloading, click it to start your RDP session. Use your copied password to log in to the Adminstrator account.

If all goes to plan, you’ll be presented with your Windows Server Desktop:

You’re all done! Enjoy!


If Microsoft Remote Desktop complains about not being able to connect, ensure that the RDP incoming rule is also applied to the VPC’s default security group.

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