Remote Desktop Connection: connecting to multi-monitor system from a single-monitor system


Those who work with me know that I have little love for keyboard-shortcuts.  I hate having to memorize some obscure left-click, right-shift, alt-dollar-sign, scroll the mouse using your big-toe combination.  Maybe the X-box generation don’t mind filling their heads with such nonesense, but to me, any GUI function that requires me to resort to the keyboard is indicative of a flaw in the GUI’s design, and memorizing a list of inane key sequences is akin to having to use a hand crank to start my car engine: what is the point of a nice dashboard and a comfy cabin if I have to leave it everytime I want to get something done?  Give me an ignition key icon – let me stay in my comfy GUI – it’s cold out there in the keyboard world.

Mixed metaphors aside, however, there are a FEW keyboard shortcuts that I admit are useful and that I use regularly (namely ctl-C, ctl-V, ctl-Z, ctl-Y and VS’s shift-ctl-B).

Today I will add another one: alt-space-M

I have a single monitor at home and dual monitors at work.  When I need to connect to my work system from home, I find that, occasionally, windows and dialogue boxes will appear on the remote system’s second monitor where I can’t see them.  That makes things difficult.

Alt-space-M activates the Windows move mode.  You can then use the arrow keys to slide the offending window or dialogue onto the visible monitor and continue working.

But don’t think that means that keyboard shortcuts get to score a point!  The fact that alt-space-M is needed just shows that there is a flaw in RDC, not that keyboard shortcuts are good thing.

—– addendum I —–

I thought I should point out that there is an alternate solution: right-click on the preview image that appears when you hover over the application icon on the Windows taskbar, select Move and then the arrow keys can be used to move the window.

This solution does not work in my case however because I am using the Actual Multiple Monitors application and so the application icon also appears on the second monitor where I can’t get at it.

—– addendum II —–

Thanks to my co-worker, Ted Neustaedter, for pointing out a nice short-cut.  Whether you use Alt-space-M or select Move from the application icon context menu, you can simply tap one of the arrow keys.  Windows will immediately lock the mouse pointer to the window’s title bar.  You can then just drag the window around using the mouse; much faster than scrolling the window into position using the arrow keys alone.

—– addendum III —– (2012 Sept)

I have found that I now always use the method described in addendum II (I did say I prefer GUIs to keyboards). Alt-space-M, like the hand crank, the wrench for twisting spark plugs and the the vacuum-bag food sealer, has been tossed in the back of the garage: another tool that seemed useful at the time. I wonder if I can get something for it on eBay…

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