How to make RemoteApp show the application icon when starting

First published on CloudBlogs on Apr, 06 2009

When you start a remote application using an RDP file, you typically see the following UI while the application is being started:

The problem with this UI is that it shows the generic Remote Desktop icon for every application you start. However, by customizing the RDP file, you can change this behavior and have UI which looks like this:

This UI associates an icon with the remote application being started, resulting in the user having more visual feedback as to what is being launched on the remote computer.

To ensure that the icon of a remote application is shown in the RemoteApp UI, you first need to obtain the ICO file of the application. Once you have that, there are two ways to get the icon to appear when using the RDP file to start the remote application.

Method 1: Using the RemoteApplicationIcon RDP file setting

Assume the ICO file is located in “c:icons” on the client machine, and the filename is “wmplayer.ico”. Add the following line to the RDP file associated with the remote application:


Unfortunately environment variables are not supported.

This method is very simple to implement – it is just a one line change to any RDP files associated with the remote application. However, if the application icon ever changes, then all of the associated RDP files will have to be updated with the new icon location (editing all these files may not be a simple process).

Method 2: Using the RemoteApplicationGuid RDP file setting

This method is a little more complicated. First, create a GUID for the remote application, such as:


Then, create a registry key in the HKCU or HKLM hive on the client machine (under the RemoteApplications key) using the GUID as the key name (if the key is defined in both HKCU and HKLM, the key in HKCU takes precedence):

HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftTerminal Server ClientRemoteApplications4ff33cce-fb83-4dff-97b3-aa1e97f11fa5


HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESoftwareMicrosoftTerminal Server ClientRemoteApplications4ff33cce-fb83-4dff-97b3-aa1e97f11fa5

Then, inside this key create a REG_SZ value named “RemoteApplicationIcon”. The contents of this REG_SZ value should contain the path to the remote application icon on the client machine, such as “c:iconswmplayer.ico”. Environment variables are not supported with this method either.

Finally, add the following line to the RDP file associated with the remote application:


This method requires updating the registry in addition to the RDP files associated with a remote application. However, if the application icon ever changes only the registry value containing the icon path needs to be updated with the new icon location – this is especially simple if the HKLM hive was used, as there will only be one location where the icon is stored.