I often use RDP clients (like Microsoft Remote Desktop or CoRD) to access my work machines to use Visual Studio at work. This actually works pretty well, except for when it comes to using the Function keys (especially F10 and F11 for debugging).

As you can see, the problem is that the Mac OS now also uses these keys for mute and volume down respectively. You can hold down the 'fn' key and get access to these, and sometimes that doesn't even work directly, you have to hold down Command too. This slows me down quite a bit. I have built up some serious muscle memory for Visual Studio key commands, and would like to replicate them as close as possible through Remote Desktop.

I am looking for a workflow that will:

  • Allow me to RDP into a Windows machine (Windows 7 if that matters)
  • Customize key commands JUST for that application, so that if RDP is the current application, hitting F10 will interact with the debugger in my RDP connection, and not mute my Mac
  • If I can't map those exact keys, at least have a way to map two unused keys to the similar function key in the RDP session (as in, if I could map F10 and F11 to F16 and F17 respectively, that could work.

It looks like Microsoft's RDP client allows you to change key commands, but not add new ones. And wasn't sure if there was another method I could use to incorporate these commands just for when RDP was the front-most application


2 Answers 2


The easiest way might be to disable the Fn key. Since you say that using Fn+F10 works, you could go into System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard, and enable Use all F1, F2, etc. keys as standard function keys. This way you no longer need to press Fn to send F10.

The second solution is on the PC side. You could install a utility such as AutoHotkey on your PC and remap the keys there. That way the keybindings will only work on the PC. Lifehacker has nice looking tutorial about this. In AutoHotkey, you can decide which applications the shortcut applies to, but in your case it seems like a global hotkey would work since it is running on the PC side.

Another solution might be to try one of the ways to create keyboard shortcuts menitoned in this Lifehacker article. This article's goal is to help you do similar things that AutoHotkey let's you do on the Mac.

  • So are you saying AutoHotKey could be setup to recognize F16 as being F10?
    – jmlumpkin
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 18:39
  • @jmlumpkin: Most likely. They actually have a tool that let's you figure out if a rebind is possible. You run the tool, then press whichever key you want to rebind. If it shows up in the list, you can rebind it to whatever you want. If it doesn't, you're out of luck, since it's not being sent to RDP in the first place.
    – Senseful
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 18:54
  • New to Mac here (in 2021), using MacOS 11.2 (Big Sur) and doing RDP into my Windows for Visual Studio. Using my external keyboard (regular PC keyboard) all function keys were working fine (F5 run, F10 step over, etc). Except F11, which was toggling the desktop (minize everything and show desktop). All I had to do was change this F11 shortcut to Ctrl-F11 (^F11) by using Settings - Keyboard - Shortcuts - Show Desktop.
    – drizin
    Commented Feb 14, 2021 at 22:04

Looks like the new Jump Desktop app for Mac will do this.


enter image description here

I've not tried it yet, but the iPad app is highly regarded.


  • Do you know if the app for iPad had this kind of map functionality? Commented Jul 2, 2020 at 5:55

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