As much as we all love our Macs, we still generally live in a Microsoft business world and need to connect and work with Windows boxes. While Microsoft does release its own Remote Desktop application to facilitate Mac users connecting to Windows machine, I’ve never been […]

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As much as we all love our Macs, we still generally live in a Microsoft business world and need to connect and work with Windows boxes. While Microsoft does release its own Remote Desktop application to facilitate Mac users connecting to Windows machine, I’ve never been impressed with the interface for it (on either Mac or Windows). I’ve much preferred using the open-source CoRD project.

Two years since the last release of CoRD, its development team has finally released version 0.5, bringing a whole heap of polish to an already excellent software package. For me, the killer feature that CoRD has over Microsoft’s official client is the ability to have multiple connections going at once, all selectable from a list. The work flow becomes similar to a tabbed interface (although it’s not actually tabs).

A screenshot shows it the best:

CoRD 0.5 with three active sessions

CoRD 0.5 with three active sessions

The release notes for 0.5 show a large number of enhancements, bug fixes and optimizations in the multiple areas.

New Remote Desktop Functionality

Support for connecting to Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 has been added. Microsoft’s font smoothing technology, ClearType, can now be turned on, as well as experimental support for disk and printer forwarding. Custom screen resolutions can now be defined in preferences and then applied to connections.

User Interface Improvements

Many nice usability touches have been added, such as being able to set default connection preferences for when creating new servers or doing quick connections. The list of servers now has a search box at the top for quickly locating a server by name without scanning over the list manually. Hotkeys can now be assigned for commonly accessed servers and many other keyboard shortcuts, and small UI tweaks have been added to improve the user experience. You can also configure the application’s auto-updater to fetch the stable, betas or nightly builds to suit your risk level.

Behind the Scenes

Initial support for IPv6 has been put in, along with commandline automation. CoRD is now an Intel Universal (32bit/64bit) binary with full support for OS X 10.5 and 10.6. The general performance of the application has been increased, and many stability bugs have been addressed.

What It Won’t Do

As powerful as CoRD is, there are some things that still need the official Microsoft client. CoRD does not support Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol version 6.0. Windows Server 2008 needs to be configured to not use TLS or network authentication to allow CoRD usage. In addition, CoRD cannot run on OS X 10.4 anymore. While it will currently still run on PPC architecture, the team will no longer be supporting it.

If you haven’t tried CoRD and need to connect to many remote desktop, I’d highly recommend giving it a look.

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  1. George Entenman Sunday, August 2, 2009

    CoRD is absolutely wonderful. At work I’m forced to use a Windoze machine now and then. I could turn around and use it, but it’s much nicer to use CoRD: I get a larger window then on the Windoze machine itself!!! And of course I can compare what I’m doing there with what’s on my Macbook (they’re related).

    It’s just great.

  2. Second to George’s post; CoRD is awesome. It’s like RDC with tabs, a native Mac feel, and Mac stability. I’ve been using it for over a year, and it’s rock solid. Thanks to the devs for a great alternative to more Microsoft software on my Mac.

  3. abednarz.net » CoRD: Remote Desktop 0.5 Released Sunday, August 2, 2009

    [...] more at The Apple Blog Categories: theAppleBlog Tags: Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment [...]

  4. TLS/SSL support is coming, hopefully in the next release, which we’re shooting for the end of October.

    The decision to cut 10.4 support was difficult, but ultimately necessary; we wanted to take advantage of so many of Leopard’s advancements. Ditto for the PPC support, but I don’t foresee that being an issue in the near future.

    I will say that if you guys have any feature requests, or find a bug, please submit them to our Trac system: http://sf.net/apps/trac/cord/

  5. CoRD is an excellent piece of work, and I’m very grateful for it. (Thank you, devs!)

    But I was also satisfied with MS RD for Mac, until they evidently started charging licensing fees for seats. Does anyone know whether that might change in the foreseeable future?

    1. Can you elaborate? I have not heard such a thing? As far as I can tell the client is still free…

      Most standard WinServer instances will only allow for the console session + 2 simultaneous RD sessions. If you want to run more you have to have Terminal Services (and have the valid licenses it requires, which I believe are per-seat). If you’re running into licensing issues you should make sure people log out of the remote machines when they’re done, and not just disconnect which causes the session to be left open.

  6. CoRD: Remote Desktop 0.5 Released Sunday, August 2, 2009

    [...] August 3rd, 2009 · No Comments As much as we all love our Macs, we still generally live in a Microsoft business world and need to connect and work with Windows boxes. While Microsoft does release its own Remote Desktop application to facilitate Mac users connecting to Windows machine, I’ve never been impressed with the interface for it (on either Mac or Windows). I’ve much preferred using the open source CoRD project.Complete info at theAppleBlog. [...]

  7. CoRD == excellence! The fact it’s so stable means I’ve fallen quite, quite in love with it.

  8. The latest version of Microsoft’s Remote Desktop software (Version 2.0.0) supports all sorts of great features, including multiple connections. They still give it away free. The only cost comes with client licenses on the serving machine (the one you’re connecting to).

    If you’re running Windows XP Professional, I’ve got a writeup on how to get 5 sessions going at the same time by replacing a DLL with an older version. You can read it at http://www.secure-computing.net/wiki/index.php/Concurrent_Windows_XP_Pro_Remote_Desktop_Sessions

    Some great features of Microsoft’s client:
    * Remote Printing Support is automatic (simply connect to a remote system with a printer and the printer becomes available to Mac applications. In addition, the local printer (to the client) becomes available to the Windows machine.
    * Sound support.
    * Encryption
    * Multiple Connections

  9. CoRD: Connect to Windows PCs From Your Mac Monday, August 3, 2009

    [...] alternative, CoRD, which has just been updated to version 0.5. Andrew over at TheAppleBlog has been taking the new version for a spin, and highly recommends it. He particularly likes the way that CoRD supports multiple connections, [...]

  10. I don’t know. Tried CoRD, but Microsoft’s own RDC performs way better. It’s faster (even with background and all the bells and whistles turned on, while CoRD disables them by default), launches faster. CoRD feels more like the performance I’d get if I was using VNC on Windows…

    1. If you’re using Vista or Win7, try changing your mouse cursor to be anything but Windows Aero. Sluggish mouse performs stems from how they are drawing those Aero cursors, or how rdesktop (what CoRD uses as its back end) is interpreting them. Using a normal cursor lets CoRD behave normally again.

  11. macbites.co.uk » MacBites Episode 0026 Sunday, August 9, 2009

    [...] Cord – Remote Desktop Application [...]

  12. LANrev 5.1.3 just added support for Cord 0.5.

    1. That’s awesome! I’m curious what they do to ‘support’ it…i can’t find anything on their website or in their release notes noting any such changes…

  13. The ability to be able to run programs automatically after connection means MS RDP still wins for me.

  14. 0.5.1 is now available via Sparkle or http://sf.net/projects/cord/files/

  15. How do you backup all your cord connections?

    1. look in ~/Library/Application Support/CoRD/Servers

      You’ll find all the servers there as RDP files. In 0.5 you can right click any server in the list and select “Show in Finder” to jump to that folder.

  16. Awesome, thanks.

  17. Hi,
    Does anyone know how can i copy a file from my mac to the remote desktop to which i connect to…
    There is “clipboard sharing” option available with Remote Desktop Connection, but can’t find anything with CoRD…
    thanks for any help.

    1. This would be better posed and answers in CoRD’s support forums….


  18. Thanks so much for the informative review.

  19. I love CoRD – super clean and easy to use, but am I missing something obvious with keyboard commands? I can’t seem to use my ⌘ key to do ⌘+C or ⌘+P commands. Is there anyway to enable these commands or is this just a limitation of the current version?

    1. Well, for starters Windows uses Ctrl-C and Ctrl-P…CoRD doesn’t support Printing (what would you print?).

    2. Sorry, meant ⌘+V (paste). Are there any copy/paste keyboard commands in Cord?

    3. You use Window’s shortcuts….Ctrl-X, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V…they get passed through and exist just like they would if you were sitting at the machine…like it should be. We don’t translate keystrokes, the Windows machine at the other end isn’t a Mac, and we don’t believe in janking up that relationship by swapping keys on the fly.

      1. thats great and all but it plays havoc on user experience when every other app (including VMware/Parallels) allows keyboard translation for these much used keyboard shortcuts. then you use CoRD and you have to remember to remember to switch back to using Ctrl + whatever. it’s a a real pain. can you atleast provide this as an option ?

  20. Gotcha – thanks for obliging a stupid question peelman. I just assumed the keyboard commands would follow the Mac formula, similar to Microsoft’s Remote Desktop. I will try to train myself to “think PC” when working over rdc, ha.

  21. Aren’t there several free remote desktop software options that will work cross platform without any of these limitations or issues? It seems like there is little need to limit yourself in this regard when other viable options are so readily available.

  22. I would like to copy and paste text from MS Word and MS Excel from the remote machine to my macbook and back again. I am using CoRD 0.5.3 from a Macbook running 10.5.8 and have tried control+c/v, command+c/v, right clicking and selecting copy and paste but none of those actions result in the desired function. Any tips?

  23. George Entenman Friday, March 19, 2010


    I”m not in a position to check as I write this, but I’m pretty sure that I can use, say, command-c to copy from my macbook pro and control-v to paste it into a windoze app inside CoRD. Just use ‘command’ on the mac, ‘control’ on the PC, and they seem to interrelate okay for me. If that doesn’t work for you, I can check again at work.

  24. I know when I use MS RDP Mac client I can use CMD-C/CMD-V to past from/to Mac/Remote. When I do that it seems to use the Mac clipboard. If I use Ctrl-C/Ctrl-v it only works in the remote session window and it uses the windows machine clipboad… so, if you want to copy from the win session and paste into the Mac session.. (I do this alot to grab URLs from my Outlook email to browser on Firefox in the Mac) then use Command-C/Command-V.

  25. Christian Dinh Monday, June 7, 2010

    When does this version support TLS/SSL encryption?

    1. Right now we have no definitive plans for TLS/SSL support. rdesktop has all but stagnated completely; we’re currently watching the freerdp project very closely, as it is a much more active fork of rdesktop. They have NLA/TLS sessions working, and have fleshed out features and done many things that would make our lives as CoRD devs much easier, from a maintenance standpoint. Its just a rather large undertaking to rip out our current backend and replace it, and neither of us has had the time to invest lately.

  26. It’s very useful for me. Thank you.

  27. There is definite value for CoRD over Microsoft RDC for Mac. The Microsoft product crashes and hangs all the time, while CoRD works reliably.

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