Setup Microsoft Remote Desktop on Mac (App Store vs Beta)

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In a Windows 10 and macOS era, how are you about using your Mac to remote desktop to a Windows PC? In this guide, we will explore some of the options you have when it comes to using Microsoft Remote Desktop for Mac.

First, some backgrounds, Microsoft used to bundle Remote Desktop Client in Office 2011. That means you can only remote desktop to Windows machine if you have purchased a copy of Office 2011 for Mac. This limits the number of Mac users to be able to Remote Desktop into a Windows PC. Microsoft learned that mistake and with the introduction of Mac App Store, they have separated the RDP client from Office 2016 to be available to download for any Mac via Apple Store. However, things don’t just stop right here, Microsoft also has a standalone Beta version of RDP apart from Apple’s Mac App Store. That means for whatever reason if your Mac is not able to install apps via the App Store due to permission reasons you are not left out! Below are the links you can download Microsoft Remote Desktop for Mac.

Even though they are both version 8.x or higher, the Beta version seems to offer a much native and refined user experience compared to the App Store version.

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They both have a nice welcome to start with but soon their UI diverges. When you installed the app via the App Store, there is a quick connect guide that lets you set up a quick RDP connection as long as you know the destination’s Windows hostname or IP address.

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Here are some of the difference between the Beta RDP client vs the Mac App Store version.

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This is the Beta version download from HockeyApp
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This is the Mac App Store version

Both have received recent and frequent updates but as you can see their UX are far apart. Both supports the new Remote Desktop Gateway feature that allows you to RDP a Windows terminal from a different network without the need of connecting to VPN first.

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Mac App Store version’s configuration page
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Beta version’s configuration page

If the Mac you are running is not restricted to run App Store only apps, then the clear winner in this round of comparison is the Microsoft Remote Desktop for Mac Beta.

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