iTunes via Windows Remote Desktop

They’re making some changes at work. One of which will be to ban iTunes from our work computers. This is a problem for those of us who travel a lot. I know that when I’m connected via Terminal Services/Remote Desktop/RDP the desktop finds my iPhone and my iPad. So I figured that I could setup a machine with a remote connection at home and pass through iTunes while I’m on the road. That way I could plug my iPhone/iPad into my work computer and update it via RDP.

After much Googling and Binging my head against a wall I got it to work. I thought I would lay out how to make it work here, since a lot of forums indicate that it can’t be done. I’m using Windows 8 but this should work with Windows 7 as well.

  1. Get Terminal Services working inside your house. There are lots of good instructions on how to do this on the web.
  2. Now get it working outside of your network. Put one of your computers on a different network and test this. Use a cellular connection, Starbucks, whatever. Usually this involves opening port 3389 on your router and pointing it to your local machine’s IP address. Again, there are lots of good tutorials on this on the web.
  3. On the RDP client machine, activate RemoteFX USB redirection like this:

    Run GPEDIT.MSC to activate the Group Policy Editor.
    In Group Policy, navigate to Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Remote Desktop Services\Remote Desktop Connection Client\RemoteFX USB Device Redirection
    Edit “Allow RDP redirection of other supported RemoteFX USB devices from this computer.”
    Enable the policy, and specify whether you wish to allow all users or only admins to redirect devices.

    On the client machines, run “gpupdate /force” (without quotes) from an Administrator command prompt to enable/disable the feature, and then restart the computer for the changes to take effect.

    The feature will not work until you restart.

  4. You’ll now have a new option in the More section of your RDP client: Other Supported RemoteFX USB Devices.

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  5.  Plug in your iPhone/iPad, fire up the RDP client and navigate to the More window. An Apple item should show in this window.
  6. Connect to the remote computer and start iTunes on the remote machine.
  7. iTunes will find your iPhone/iPad and sync normally. Note, there can be a significant lag before it finds the device, but all in all this works pretty well.

I pulled information primarily from these sources to make this work:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/how-can-i-use-my-devices-and-resources-in-a-remote-desktop-session

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/rds/archive/2010/06/10/introducing-microsoft-remotefx-usb-redirection-part-1.aspx

Both sources provide more detail about the pieces.

One caveat, one of the sites indicates that DRM protected content can’t be synced this way. Most of my music is DRM free so I didn’t see any issues and I didn’t try to transfer something as large as a movie using this method.

 

8 thoughts on “iTunes via Windows Remote Desktop

  1. Hi There,

    Great article. One thing to note is that in order for this to work, iTunes has to have been installed on the source computer (where you plug the iDevice in) ONCE, so that the correct drivers are present.

    If you DON’T do that, the drivers won’t be there, and the generic “iPod” driver that Windows 7 seems to have won’t redirect (it always shows up under “Other PnP” rather than RemoteFX).

    Ryan

  2. Hi there,

    I’m trying to do the same, but I won’t work.

    My iphone shows up under “supported other P&P devices” but not under the “supported remoteFX devices” branch. see the following screenshot (http://imgur.com/bjBo0QZ).

    * I have applied group policy
    * I have installed the latest itunes
    * I am running the latest Windows 8.1
    * My RDP client supports the latest 8.1 protocol
    * I even tried the regedit workaround for not supported devices (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2653326).

    No luck. I don’t know what I’m doing differently. Do you have any ideas?
    Cheers

  3. This didn’t work for me. I installed the iTunes drivers (only the drivers using a apple drivers-only app, not full iTunes on the source machine). Running W8.1 and jailbroken iOS 8.1.2 on iPhone 5s. A lot of variables here, but I couldn’t get to work.

  4. He didn’t mention in the article what OS the server was running. I couldn’t get this to work as I suspect that the server (computer running iTunes, not the laptop that’s on the road with the iphone plugged into it), needs to be running Windows Server.

  5. Thanks for this great article. It points me in the right direction. I wanted to redirect the iPhone from a Win 8.1 machine (physically plugged-in) to a Win 7 SP1 machine where iTunes is installed. I followed all your steps and it didn’t work, but after some deeper investigation I realized that RDP 8.0 is necessary!

    I followed these steps and now it works! https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2592687

    • Hi Ronny, I have followed the steps in this post and then made sure I have RDP 8.0 on my Win7 machine as you suggest but still no-go. Just a question – does your iPhone show up under ‘other supported P&P’ or ‘Supported RemoteFx’? mine is under supported P&P.

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