An Alt to Ctrl+Alt+Del

Imagine this, you log onto your production server with remote desktop and to your surprise the dreaded explorer.exe process has died and you’re staring at a blank, lifeless, blue screen (albeit not the dark blue variant which would mean something more sinister had occurred!) and there’s absolutely nothing you can do from here..

What do I do? I need to check the log/start a service/etc., the server is running fine otherwise, and restarting it is not an option.. the tried and tested CTRL+ALT+DELETE to bring up the task manager and starting the ‘explorer.exe’ approach won’t save you either because it’s executed on your local computer! Time to recite four letter word paragraphs in your head, directed at none other than Microsoft..

Fortunately, if you’re using Windows XP or later then you’re in luck, because to perform CTRL+ALT+DELETE on a remote PC you can use an alternative key combo: CTRL+ALT+End

Whilst we’re at it, there’s some other useful shortcuts you can use in remote desktop:

ALT + Page Up – switch between programs, equivalent to ALT + Tab

ALT + Home – brings up the start menu

CTRL + ALT + +(plus) / – (minus) – plus takes a snapshot of the entire remote desktop window, minus takes a snapshot of the active window

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Yan Cui

I’m an AWS Serverless Hero and the author of Production-Ready Serverless. I have run production workload at scale in AWS for nearly 10 years and I have been an architect or principal engineer with a variety of industries ranging from banking, e-commerce, sports streaming to mobile gaming. I currently work as an independent consultant focused on AWS and serverless.

You can contact me via Email, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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