Windows 7: 256 Colors in Remote Desktop Connection


Reducing the color depth used for a remote session is one way to speed up the Remote Desktop (RDP) session on a slow network connection. 15-bit is the lowest color depth allowed in the Remote Desktop Connection client (mstsc.exe) of Windows 7. But, the Remote Desktop client of Windows XP had allowed a lower color depth of 8-bit (256 colors). The remote session surely looks crappy with 256 colors, but it can be a lifesaver on a slow connection! 🙂


There is no direct way to choose 256 colors in the Remote Desktop of Windows 7. But, a remote session can be invoked with 256 colors:

  1. Set all the remote desktop settings for the connection and save it to a RDP (.rdp) file by choosing Save As in the General tab.
  2. Open this .rdp file in a text editor. Find the line that reads session bpp:i:16. The value here will read 15, 16, 24 or 32, depending on the color depth you had chosen while saving the file. Change this line to session bpp:i:8
  3. Use this .rdp file to open a RDP session to the remote computer. This can be done by either opening this file in the Remote Desktop Connection client or by double-clicking this file. The remote session will now use a 8-bit color depth.


Tried with: Remote Desktop Connection client (mstsc.exe) 6.1.7600.16385 on Windows 7

3 thoughts on “Windows 7: 256 Colors in Remote Desktop Connection

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  2. and if 15bit is still too much, but 8bit looks way too bad, is there a way to choose the middle options? 10bit, 12bit, 14bit, user can optimize according to his bandiwidth

    A solution would be really helpful


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