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How to connect to Terminal Services with a color resolution of greater than 256 colors in the Windows Server 2003 family

Support for Windows Server 2003 ended on July 14, 2015

Microsoft ended support for Windows Server 2003 on July 14, 2015. This change has affected your software updates and security options. Learn what this means for you and how to stay protected.

This article was previously published under Q323353
SUMMARY
This step-by-step article shows you how to use a color resolution of greater than 256 colors when you connect to a Windows Server 2003-based Terminal Services computer.

When you connect to a Windows Server 2003-based computer by using the Windows Server 2003 Remote Desktop Connection client, you can select the color resolution at which you want the client session to run. This functionality permits you to increase the resolution beyond the former limitation of 256 colors. However, by selecting this value, you are not guaranteed to connect at as high a resolution as you select, because the client setting is only one of the variables involved in generating a particular color resolution in the session.

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Increase Color Resolution for Windows Server 2003-based Terminal Services

When you connect to a Windows Server 2003-based computer by using the Remote Desktop Connection client, you can specify for the client to run with more than 256 colors. Before you specify a color-resolution setting, you must first set up Remote Desktop Connections. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. Right-click My Computer, click Properties, and then click the Remote tab.
  2. Click to select the Allow users to connect remotely to this computer check box, and then click OK.
  3. On another computer, start Remote Desktop Connections. To do this, click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to Communications, and then click Remote Desktop Connection.
  4. Type the name of the computer that you are connecting to.
  5. Click Options to expand the connection window.
  6. Click the Display tab, and then select a color resolution other than 256 under Colors.
  7. Click Connect to start the session.
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Set Group Policy for Maximum Color Depth of Terminal Services

In many cases, the client still connects with 256 colors instead of whatever value you specified in the Remote Desktop Connection box after you perform the procedure in the "Increase Color Resolution for Windows Server 2003-based Terminal Services" section of this article. This behavior may occur because of Group Policy on the Windows Server 2003-based computer that determines the maximum color depth that can be negotiated by the client. In Windows Server 2003, the default policy setting is 256 colors, but this setting can be changed by using the Group Policy Editor.

To use the Group Policy Editor to change the setting, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, click Run, and then type MMC.
  2. On the File menu, click Add/Remove Snap-in, click Add, and then click Group Policy Object Editor.
  3. Click Add, make sure that Local Computer is selected in the Group Policy Object box, click Finish, click Close, and then click OK.
  4. Click Computer Configuration, click Administrative Templates, click Windows Components, and then click Terminal Services.
  5. Click Limit maximum color depth, and then select the color depth that you want.
After you change the setting, you should be able to specify any setting of more than the default setting of 256 colors setting, and the client should be able to connect with that resolution.

NOTE: You cannot specify and connect at a higher resolution than your hardware can support. Therefore, if you have a video card in your computer that supports only up to 256 colors, you cannot connect to a session with a higher resolution than that.

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Article ID: 323353 - Last Review: 12/03/2007 04:39:38 - Revision: 7.3

  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Datacenter Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Standard Edition (32-bit x86)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Web Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, 64-Bit Datacenter Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Enterprise x64 Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Windows Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition
  • kbtermserv kbdisplay kbenv kbhowto kbhowtomaster KB323353
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