Have you ever wanted to access your PC from anywhere in the world, without compromising your security or privacy? If so, this blog post is for you. In this post, I will show you how to use Tailscale and Microsoft Remote Desktop to remotely access your PC from your phone, tablet, or another computer.
Tailscale is a zero-config VPN that creates a secure network of your devices using WireGuard, a fast and modern encryption protocol.
Microsoft Remote Desktop is a built-in feature of Windows that allows you to control your PC from another device using the Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP).
By combining these two tools, you can access your PC from anywhere, without exposing it to the internet or opening any firewall ports. Here are the steps to follow:
- Step 1: Install Tailscale on your PC and your remote device
- Step 2: Enable Remote Desktop on your PC
- Step 3: Restrict Remote Desktop access to Tailscale (Optional – For Extra Security)
- Step 4: Install Microsoft Remote Desktop & Tailscale on your remote device
- Step 5: Connect to your PC using Microsoft Remote Desktop and Tailscale
Step 1: Install Tailscale on your PC and your remote device
The first step is to install Tailscale on your PC and your remote device. You can download Tailscale from their website https://tailscale.com and follow the instructions to install it on your preferred platform. Tailscale supports Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and more. You will need to create a Tailscale account and sign in with your email or a supported identity provider, such as Google, GitHub, or Okta.
Once you sign in, you will see a list of your devices on your Tailscale network, also known as a tailnet. Each device will have a unique Tailscale IP address in the 100.64.0.0/10 subnet.
Step 2: Enable Remote Desktop on your PC
The next step is to enable Remote Desktop on your PC. To do this, open the Start Menu and type Remote Desktop settings. Click on the result to open the settings window. Under the Enable Remote Desktop section, toggle the switch to On. You may see a confirmation dialog asking you to allow remote connections to your PC. Click Confirm to proceed. You can also adjust some settings, such as requiring network level authentication, selecting users who can access your PC, and choosing the quality of the remote session.
Step 3: Restrict Remote Desktop access to Tailscale (Optional – For Extra Security)
The third step is to restrict Remote Desktop access to Tailscale so that only devices on your Tailscale network can connect to your PC. To do this, open the Start Menu and type Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security. Click on the result to open the Advanced Security console of the Windows Firewall. On the left-hand side pane, click Inbound Rules. The list of inbound firewall rules should appear in the central pane. Scroll down to the rules for Remote Desktop — User Mode. Right-click the TCP rule, and click Properties. In the Properties window, select the Scope tab on the top. Under Remote IP Addresses, choose These IP addresses: and then click the Add button to add a range of allowed IPs. Since Tailscale allocates IP addresses in the 100.64.0.0/10 subnet, and we want to allow access to Tailscale IP addresses, type in that range and click OK. Click OK in the Properties window to confirm your changes. Finally, repeat the steps above for the UDP rule as well.
Step 4: Install Microsoft Remote Desktop & Tailscale on your remote device
The fourth step is to install Microsoft Remote Desktop on your remote device. You can download Microsoft Remote Desktop from the App Store for iOS devices, or from the Google Play Store for Android devices. Alternatively, you can use another device that has Windows and Microsoft Remote Desktop installed. Once you install the app, open it and sign in with your Microsoft account.
Step 5: Connect to your PC using Microsoft Remote Desktop and Tailscale
The final step is to connect to your PC using Microsoft Remote Desktop and Tailscale. To do this, open the Microsoft Remote Desktop app on your remote device and tap the + button to add a new PC. Enter the Tailscale IP address of your PC, which you can find on the Tailscale app or website. You can also give a friendly name to your PC, such as Home PC or Work PC. Tap Save to add the PC to your list. Then, tap on the PC name to start the remote session. You may be prompted to enter your Windows credentials, such as your username and password. Enter them and tap Continue. You may also see a certificate warning, asking you to verify the identity of the remote PC. Tap Accept to proceed. You should now see your PC’s desktop on your remote device. You can use the app’s toolbar to access some features, such as the keyboard, the mouse, the clipboard, and the zoom. You can also switch between full-screen and windowed mode, or disconnect from the session.
That’s it! You have successfully set up a secure and convenient way to remotely access your PC from anywhere using Tailscale and Microsoft Remote Desktop. You can now use your PC as if you were sitting in front of it, without worrying about hackers or prying eyes. You can also use Tailscale to access other resources on your network, such as printers, servers, or cameras. Tailscale also supports Access Control Lists (ACLs) to manage access for users and groups to devices, IP’s, subnets, and ports.
You can learn more about Tailscale and its features on their website https://tailscale.com/
I hope you found this blog post helpful and informative. If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below. Thank you for reading! blush