RDP Inception and Password Changes

A common pain point that seems to come up regularly among technical folks is how to change a Windows account password over an RDP connection.

The correct answer is Control+Alt+End, right? Of course.

However, this doesn’t work as you might expect when you’re lost in RDP “Inception“. RDP inception is when you’re multiple levels deep with RDP connections, such as would be common when using one or more “jump boxes” or intermediate systems.

Example: Local Device->RDP1->RDP2->RDP3

When you’re lost in RDP inception, the Control+Alt+End command is sent to the very first RDP session you are connected to. In our example above, that would be RDP1. So what about changing your password on RDP2, RDP3 or any other systems beyond RDP1? The On-Screen Keyboard (osk.exe) is your new friend. Using osk.exe to bring up the Control+Alt+Del menu is not necessarily intuitive, though.

The Method

  1. Launch osk.exe in the RDP session for which you want to change your password.
  2. Hold down Control+Alt on your physical keyboard connected to your local device.
  3. Click “Del” using the On-Screen Keyboard running in the RDP session for which you want to change your password.

The Control+Alt+Del menu will now appear within the desired RDP session, allowing you to change your password.

Note: The “Desktop Experience” feature appears to be required for osk.exe to launch on Windows Server 2012 and perhaps also 2008 (untested).

One thought on “RDP Inception and Password Changes

  1. If a box has a new enough OS (Windows 7/Server 2008 or newer) and assuming your target RDP machine isn’t locked down by restrictive GPOs, you should also be able to access the “Windows Security” shortcut from the root of the Start Menu. This performs essentially the same function as the three-fingered salute, allowing you to change the password.

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