Remote Desktop on Mac to PC

We got a Mac for my wife yesterday, and I am considering getting one for myself. This is the first Apple computer in the house, and I am trying to learn a bunch of stuff. One need I have is to be able to remotely connect to my work computer, which is a windows PC running windows XP.

Currently at home I am using a computer running windows vista. I connect to my work network using Cisco VPN client, and remote desktop to connect and remotely control the computer.

Using the Mac’s built in VPN protocal, I am able to connect to the network, but when I use remote desktop (included in MS Office for Mac 2011), I get an error: “The Mac cannot connect because the Windows-based computer cannot be found. Verify that you typed the correct computer name or IP address, and try connecting again.”

Any ideas?
I know this isn’t really an Apple forum, so if anyone can point me to a good one for beginners, please do.

Nevermind. You already have that client, as it comes with Microsoft Office.

All I can find in third-party software is CoRD, but I think it likely it won’t work if the one Microsoft won’t work.

I can also point you to the official support site for the Microsoft version you have.

I had a lot of trouble trying to connect to my work PC. The VPN client we used didn’t have a Mac equivalent and I couldn’t connect to the network using the in built Mac one. I tried a few different clients but could never get it working. In the end I did the unthinkable. I installed Windows using VMWare Fusion and connect from there. So if the worst comes to the worst there’s always that.

I do this all the time. I have the MS remote desktop client on my Mac and connect to work over a VPN. However you may have some issues with the VPN setup. The most common problem I have had is that it doesn’t automatically setup the right name resolution additions or DNS proxy. Much will depend upon the VPN you use at work. I would have thought he Cisco VPN would get this right, but in truth I have never had much joy using that one, and it isn’t all that well regarded. It does sound as if the name resolution is simply not making it to first base.

For Hrududu, and anyone else, Macs don’t support OpenVPN out of the box and you need to add a client if you use OpenVPN (I use Viscosity which is a paid app, but works perfectly and is pretty bulletproof, the usual free app is Tunnelblik, which is free but a bit flakey at times.)

Ensure that the network name for the network where your PC lives is in the resolver rules. The network control panel under system preferences, goto Advanced, and then DNS. In Search Domains, add the name of the network. (This actually adds the network name to /etc/resolv.conf ) I have found that this is usually enough to fight the connection into life.

Can you connect to the remote using its IP?

I did this for years, too, and it worked fine. Our VPN access point was a Cisco PIX and I had to use the Cisco VPN client for Mac (which, at the time at least, was only available to registered Cisco users). Once connected via VPN, I opened Remote Desktop on the Mac and typed in the IP address of my work computer directly.

FWIW, I have no trouble using LogMeIn free version to connect my Mac with a Windows box.

I use GoToMyPC for this purpose. The have a Mac client as well as a Windows client so I can connect to my office PC from either platform. It’s not cheap ($150/year) but works extremely well. They’re coming out with a client for the iPad soon.

Thanks for all the replies.

Yoyodyne, This morning I was able to successfully connect by putting in the remote computer’s IP address. Unfortunately, this won’t work long term because the IP addresses at work are dynamic, and it will change eventually.

I tried putting in my full computer name ( I got an error, but a different error than when just putting int he computer name:

"The Mac cannot connect to the Windows-based computer.
This problem can occur if:
• The Windows-based computer is not set up to accept remote connections.
• The Windows-based computer is not turned on.
• The Mac, or the Windows-based computer is experiencing network problems.

Try connecting to the Windows-based computer again, or contact your administrator."

So it looks like the VPN is okay, and there is some problem with name resolution.
Does this give anyone an idea of what I should look at next?

Also, is there a way to just browse the network?

Is there a way to open network folder location (equivalent to \server\share in windows explorer)?

Clearly a name resolution problem, if the IP address works. However since the full name is not resolving it isn’t just a matter of search domains, you can’t see the DNS on the VPN. It is possible to force the Mac to use a known DNS server, so if you can find out the IP address of the DNS on the work network, you can add it to the list of servers. Again, System preferences, networks, DNS. In the left hand pane add the IP address of the server. If you have this, plus the network name in the right hand pane, you should be able to resolve the PC with nothing more than its base name.

The finder will usually automatically display those network shared items that it can see in the left hand side

Under the finder, Go, Network, or use shift-command-k.

I am in the same situation - Mac at home, Windows at work - and frequently need to access my work machine when I’m at home.

I gave up on the VPN aproach and, like BrotherCadfael use ( for a free trial). It is great.

I have never had any significant problems over the years and, most importantly, it’s never ‘down’ - it always works for me. Quite reassuring to know that I will be able to connect with work when I get home.

BTW, the cost may be a tax write-off depending on your situation (regardless, at about $12 bucks a month, I don’t think it’s a huge investment in any case).

No dice. Went to the work PC and did ipconfig/all. Took the IP address listed under DNS and put that in the left hand pane under the VPN connection. Still got the same error. Thanks for the suggestion, I thought it would work.

The solution is probably obvious to anyone that has used a mac for more than 5 minutes, but I am fumbling around making mistakes.

Do be sure that the the IP address of the DNS is on the the same network as the VPN. Otherwise you won’t be able to find it without routing info.
There is a gotcha with this list. The resolver only looks at the first four. If the one you needed is further down the list it won’t see it. :frowning:

An addendum to the above. The list of DNS servers is actually worse than four - that is how many are looked at in total. There will already be an entry implicitly made for your home network’s DNS (typically either local, or to a proxy for your ISP’s) and so there is a maximum useful number of entries in the list of three. The Cisco VPN might try to add one as well. If it gets it wrong you just end up still being unable to resolve the names.

Dynamic IP addresses in a work environment are generally pretty stable and seldom change. You can probably just use the IP and not worry about DNS.

Still not working.

DNS is under each individual connection. The airport connection(wi-fi) had 3 DNS servers listed, I guess auto populated from my ISP. I removed 2 of the entries. I then put one of the two DNS servers I got from my work computer in. I am gonna talk to one of the networking guys and make sure that that is the correct DNS server for VPN users, but I am pretty confident in that choice.

I appreciate all the help. Maybe I should take it in to the genius bar, see if they have any ideas.

That is true for my employer as well. I generally have the same IP address for a few weeks at a time. The problem is that when it does change, I have to somehow get the new IP address. Currently I would have to use a windows machine, or fire up a virtual machine using windows, to remote in and get the IP address. Just seems like a lot of trouble.

Mr Downtown is right. There is a free version of Logmein that works beautifully and doesn’t require any re-configuration. Also, it’s FREE.

It is sadly very unlikely that any tool, no matter how slick, is smart enough to work out how to resolve the IP address of your work PC on a VPN with no configuration. This isn’t actually a tool issue, it is a network setup issue for the VPN.