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Scripting Remote Desktop Bookmarks

February 29, 2016 Leave a comment

A few years ago I was searching for a way to easily create bookmarks in Microsoft Remote Desktop 8 on the Mac. Prior to version 8 you could drop an .RDP file on a machine and that was really all you needed to do to give your users the ability to connect to servers. Granted, you can still use this method, it’s just a bit sloppier, in my opinion.

So I went searching for a way to script the bookmarks, and that led me to my good friend Ben Toms’ (@macmuleblog) blog. I found his post, “HOW TO: CREATE A MICROSOFT REMOTE DESKTOP 8 CONNECTION” and started experimenting. After some trial and error, I discovered that using PlistBuddy to create the bookmarks just wasn’t being consistent. So I looked into using the defaults command instead. I finally was able to settle on the following script:

#!/bin/sh
# date: 18 Jun 2014
# Name: RDC-Connection.sh
# Author: Steve Wood (swood@integer.com)
# updated: 29 Feb 2016 - included line to add remote program to start on connection for @gmarnin
# grab the logged in user's name
loggedInUser=`/bin/ls -l /dev/console | /usr/bin/awk '{ print $3 }'`
# global
RDCPLIST=/Users/$loggedInUser/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.rdc.mac/Data/Library/Preferences/com.microsoft.rdc.mac.plist
myUUID=`uuidgen`
LOGPATH='/private/var/inte/logs'
# set variables
connectionName="NAME YOUR CONNECTION"
hostAddress="SERVERIPADDRESS"
# if you need to put an AD domain name, put it in the userName variable, otherwise leave blank
userName='DOMAINNAME\'
userName+=$loggedInUser
resolution="1280 1024"
colorDepth="32"
fullScreen="FALSE"
scaleWindow="FALSE"
useAllMonitors="TRUE"
set -xv; exec 1> $LOGPATH/rdcPlist.txt 2>&1
defaults write $RDCPLIST bookmarkorder.ids -array-add "'{$myUUID}'"
defaults write $RDCPLIST bookmarks.bookmark.{$myUUID}.label -string "$connectionName"
defaults write $RDCPLIST bookmarks.bookmark.{$myUUID}.hostname -string $hostAddress
defaults write $RDCPLIST bookmarks.bookmark.{$myUUID}.username -string $userName
defaults write $RDCPLIST bookmarks.bookmark.{$myUUID}.resolution -string "@Size($resolution)"
defaults write $RDCPLIST bookmarks.bookmark.{$myUUID}.depth -integer $colorDepth
defaults write $RDCPLIST bookmarks.bookmark.{$myUUID}.fullscreen -bool $fullScreen
defaults write $RDCPLIST bookmarks.bookmark.{$myUUID}.scaling -bool $scaleWindow
defaults write $RDCPLIST bookmarks.bookmark.{$myUUID}.useallmonitors -bool $useAllMonitors
#comment out the following if you do not need to execute a program on start of connection
# You can adjust the string to be any app that is installed.
defaults write $RDCPLIST bookmarks.bookmark.{$myUUID}.remoteProgram -string "C:\\\\Program Files\\\\\\\\Windows NT\\\\Accessories\\\\wordpad.exe"
chown -R "$loggedInUser:staff" /Users/$loggedInUser/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.rdc.mac
view raw gistfile1.txt hosted with ❤ by GitHub

You can find that code in my GitHub repo here.

RDC URI Attribute Support

I had posted that script up on JAMF Nation back in June 2014 when someone had asked about deploying connections. Recently user @gmarnin posted to that thread asking if anyone knew how to add an alternate shell key to the script. After no response, he reached out to me on the Twitter (I’m @stevewood_tx in case you care). So, I dusted off my script, fired up my Mac VM, and started experimenting.

The RDC GUI does not allow for a place to add these URI Attributes. I read through that web page and Marnin forwarded me this one as well. Marnin explained that he was able to get it to work when he exported the bookmark as an .RDP file and then used a text editor to add the necessary “alternate shell:s:” information. Armed with this knowledge, I went to the VM and started testing.

First I created a bookmark in a fresh installation of RDC. I had no bookmarks at all. After creating a bookmark I jumped into Terminal and did a read of the plist file and came up with this:

YosemiteVM:Preferences integer$ defaults read /Users/integer/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.rdc.mac/Data/Library/Preferences/com.microsoft.rdc.mac.plist
{
QmoteUUIDKey = "ff870b10-7e8e-47c2-98bd-f14f3f0cd1b0";
"bld_number" = 26665;
"bookmarklist.expansionStates" = {
GENEREAL = 1;
};
"bookmarkorder.ids" = (
"{2a3925d6-659e-456e-ab03-86919b30b54b}"
);
"bookmarks.bookmark.{2a3925d6-659e-456e-ab03-86919b30b54b}.fullscreenMode" = "@Variant(\177\017FullscreenMode\001)";
"bookmarks.bookmark.{2a3925d6-659e-456e-ab03-86919b30b54b}.hostname" = "termserv.company.com";
"bookmarks.bookmark.{2a3925d6-659e-456e-ab03-86919b30b54b}.label" = Test;
"bookmarks.bookmark.{2a3925d6-659e-456e-ab03-86919b30b54b}.username" = "";
"connectWindow.geometry" = <01d9d0cb 00010000 000001b4 000000a0 000003b9 0000033f 000001b4 000000fc 000003b9 0000033f 00000000 0000>;
"connectWindow.windowState" = <000000ff 00000000 fd000000 00000002 06000002 44000000 04000000 04000000 08000000 08fc0000 00010000 00020000 00010000 000e0074 006f006f 006c0042 00610072 01000000 00ffffff ff000000 00000000 00>;
lastdevinfoupd = 1456781093;
lastdevresourceupd = 1456781153;
"preferences.ignoredhosts" = (
"10.93.209.210:3389"
);
"preferences.resolutions" = (
"@Size(640 480)",
"@Size(800 600)",
"@Size(1024 768)",
"@Size(1280 720)",
"@Size(1280 1024)",
"@Size(1600 900)",
"@Size(1920 1080)",
"@Size(1920 1200)"
);
"show_whats_new_dialog" = 0;
"stored_version_number" = "8.0.26665";
tlmtryOn = 1;
}
view raw gistfile1.txt hosted with ❤ by GitHub

Now that we had a baseline, I exported the bookmark to the desktop of the VM, edited it to add the “alternate shell” bits, and then re-imported it into RDC as a new bookmark. I then tested to make sure it would work as advertised. After some trial and error, I was able to get the exact syntax for the “alternate shell” entry to work. Now I just needed to see what changes were made in the plist file. A quick read showed me the following:

YosemiteVM:Preferences integer$ defaults read /Users/integer/Library/Containers/com.microsoft.rdc.mac/Data/Library/Preferences/com.microsoft.rdc.mac.plist
{
QmoteUUIDKey = "ff870b10-7e8e-47c2-98bd-f14f3f0cd1b0";
"bld_number" = 26665;
"bookmarklist.expansionStates" = {
GENEREAL = 1;
};
"bookmarkorder.ids" = (
"{2a3925d6-659e-456e-ab03-86919b30b54b}"
);
"bookmarks.bookmark.{2a3925d6-659e-456e-ab03-86919b30b54b}.fullscreenMode" = "@Variant(\177\017FullscreenMode\001)";
"bookmarks.bookmark.{2a3925d6-659e-456e-ab03-86919b30b54b}.hostname" = "termserv.company.com";
"bookmarks.bookmark.{2a3925d6-659e-456e-ab03-86919b30b54b}.label" = Test;
"bookmarks.bookmark.{2a3925d6-659e-456e-ab03-86919b30b54b}.username" = "";
"bookmarks.bookmark.{2a3925d6-659e-456e-ab03-86919b30b54b}.remoteProgram" = "C:\\\\Program Files\\\\\\\\Windows NT\\\\Accessories\\\\wordpad.exe";
"connectWindow.geometry" = <01d9d0cb 00010000 000001b4 000000a0 000003b9 0000033f 000001b4 000000fc 000003b9 0000033f 00000000 0000>;
"connectWindow.windowState" = <000000ff 00000000 fd000000 00000002 06000002 44000000 04000000 04000000 08000000 08fc0000 00010000 00020000 00010000 000e0074 006f006f 006c0042 00610072 01000000 00ffffff ff000000 00000000 00>;
lastdevinfoupd = 1456781093;
lastdevresourceupd = 1456781153;
"preferences.ignoredhosts" = (
"10.93.209.210:3389"
);
"preferences.resolutions" = (
"@Size(640 480)",
"@Size(800 600)",
"@Size(1024 768)",
"@Size(1280 720)",
"@Size(1280 1024)",
"@Size(1600 900)",
"@Size(1920 1080)",
"@Size(1920 1200)"
);
"show_whats_new_dialog" = 0;
"stored_version_number" = "8.0.26665";
tlmtryOn = 1;
}
view raw gistfile1.txt hosted with ❤ by GitHub

The key is the line that has “remoteProgram” as part of the entry. You have to get the full path on the Windows machine to the application you want to run on connection to the server. Once you know that path, you can adjust your bookmark script however you need.

The script I posted above, and is linked in my GitHub repo, contains the line to add that Remote Program (alternate shell). If you do not need it, just comment it out of the script.