Using Remote Desktop Connection with a Mac

By Dave Peiser

One of my clients recently changed all of their client PCs from Windows to Mac (Leopard, 10.5.3), while keeping their Windows servers (SBS 2003 and Windows 2003 Server). With the change-over, it was necessary to keep some "Windows" functionality while using their Macs. In particular, they are running a terminal server with QuickBooks, Quicken and a database program that still need to be accessed by the client systems.

With a quick Google search, I learned that Microsoft had a free download of the Remote Desktop Connection program, specifically for the Mac world. This was a great relief, so I downloaded the released version of the software (1.0.3).

At first glance, all went well. There was no problem connecting/disconnecting with the server, and configuration was very similar to the Windows version. However, we had problems printing. One of the great features of Remote Desktop Connection is the ability to bring your printers with the connection, so that even though the server you are connecting into may be hundreds or thousands of miles away, you can easily print on the printer sitting next to you. No dice here. Local printers on the Mac were not showing up when connected to the server.

After a period of frantic web searches and deep soul searching about my commitment to the client that they would be able to do everything they needed to with the Macs, I realized there was a Beta version of the Remote Desktop Connection software on the Microsoft website. There were no comments about what the difference was with this Beta version (Version 2, Beta 3) from the released version, but I thought: I can't lose anything by trying it out. And the bet was spot on. With the Beta version, like magic, printing worked! Life was good again. 🙂