Virtual desktops (VDI)

You can access a Windows 10 university desktop computer on your home computer using a remote connection.
Learn more here.

The University of Helsinki uses a virtual desktop environment (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure; VDI environment) used with the VMware Horizon Client software. All other programs can also be used in a virtual desktop in the same way as in conventional university workstations. Here you can find a more detailed description of what a virtual workstation is.

The selection of available computers depends on the user’s employment status and any possible additionally purchased licences. By default, people in an employment relationship with the university can see both Windows and Linux computers and others only see Linuxes.

The VMware Horizon Client software is installed centrally on the workstations of the University. If you cannot find the program on the workstation, see the instructions on how to install the VMware Horizon Client software.

These instructions have been prepared for Windows computers, but they can also be applied for Mac and Cubbli. See also instructions for Cubbli in Cubbli wiki.

    Connecting to a virtual desktop

    • Click the magnifying glass icon on the taskbar and write VMware
    • Select VMware Horizon Client
    • The window that opens contains the icon for the connection server
    • Double-click the icon.
    • Wait for the virtual desktop to load..
    • Once the desktop has loaded, you can run the program you want by clicking the magnifying glass icon and typing the name of the program in the field.
    • When you want to stop using the virtual desktop, disconnect from the virtual desktop by clicking Start  user icon > Sign out.


    Opening a virtual desktop automatically

    You can choose a specific virtual desktop to open automatically as follows:

    • Open the VMware Horizon Client. Right-click the icon of the connection server.
    • A menu opens. Choose Autoconnect to this Server.
    • You can now close the VMware Horizon Client program and restart it.
    • The program now automatically opens in the desktop menu.
    • If you usually only use a specific desktop (such as Cubbli), you can also specify it to be opened automatically.
    • Right-click the icon of the server (1.) you want to choose.
    • Choose Settings (2.) from the menu.
    • A new window opens for setting the options of the server.
    • Slide the switch Autoconnect to this Desktop from Off to On. Close the window.
    • You can now close the VMware Horizon Client software again and restart it.
    • The selected desktop now opens automatically.

    If you want to change the settings of the automated opening of the virtual desktop, open the Start menu and find VMware Horizon Client. Right-click the icon to open a menu displaying Recent servers and select


    Launching a virtual desktop automatically

    You’ll save time in the future when you create a shortcut for the virtual desktop directly on your own desktop. Create the shortcut as follows:

    • Open Horizon Client as usual. Right-click the icon for the desired desktop (such as Cubbli). When a menu opens, select Create shortcut to Desktop.
    • This will create a shortcut on the desktop. You will be able to open the chosen desktop directly using the desktop shortcut the next time.


    Adjust the display settings

    With the default settings, the virtual desktop takes over all displays (if you are using several displays). The actual desktop is only shown in one display. This means that you cannot see your computer’s desktop at all at the same time, which may make it difficult to work.

    You can set the virtual desktop as a ”floating window” as follows:

    • Right-click the icon for the desktop to open. When a menu opens, select Display > Window - Large, for example. (The default setting is All Monitors, which takes over all displays.)
    • Next time you open the virtual desktop, it will open in the size you have specified. Please keep in mind that the setting is desktop-specific, which means that you can select different settings for different desktops.

     IIn windowed mode, a virtual desktop in Windows may look like this, so be careful about which start menu you click.


    Locked virtual desktop

    If the virtual desktop asks you to press Control + Alt + Delete, you can use the bar at the top of the desktop window to send the command Send Ctrl-Alt-Delete.


    Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + Alt + Insert on the keyboard.

    Note that if you press Ctrl + Alt + Del on the keyboard, the command will only be sent to the host computer (=the computer on which you are logged in to the virtual desktop).


    The computer has no Horizon Client / home computer

    If you only need to use a virtual desktop temporarily or occasionally and you do not have Horizon Client installed, you can also use the browser version to use virtual desktops.

    If you want to, you can install VMware Horizon Client on your home computer, for example. To do so, click Install VMware Horizon Client.
    Note that you need administration permissions for the computer.

    • Log in using your own username.
    • After a successful login, the virtual desktop menu opens.


    • Click the expand handle on the left side of the virtual desktop.
    • There are four buttons on the top. Click the rightmost of them.
    • When the menu opens, select Log out.
    • After a confirmation question, you go back to the home page and can then close the window.



    • If you log out and immediately log back in, the following error message might be displayed:

    This means that the previous session was not yet closed. Try again after a while (Try Again at the top right corner).



    The VMware Self-Support program for easily checking/resetting the settings has been installed on the virtual desktop.

    • Launch the program Start > VMware DEM > Self-Support

    This launches the VMware User Environment Manager Self-Support program. The program looks like this:

    The program displays the settings that you have changed.

    • To remove a changed setting, choose the setting and click Reset.


    Transferring files between your home computer and the VDI virtual desktop (Windows, using the client software)

    These instructions tell you how to transfer files between your home computer and the virtual desktop if you are using the VDI client software. If you are using the virtual desktop via the browser, see the following section.

    You can add a drive or folder on your home computer to the virtual desktop. This allows you to easily transfer files between the home computer and the virtual desktop.

    •     At the top of the virtual desktop, click the three-dot menu and select Settings.


    • Click Drive sharing on the left pane, then click Add on the right pane.
    • Find the drive or folder to share on your home computer. Only one folder, ETÄTYÖ MÖKILLÄ, is shared in this example. Choose the folder and click OK.
    • The shared folder or drive is now shown on the virtual desktop amongst the other drives. You can open the folder and process the files either on the virtual desktop or through the file management of your own computer. The changes are reflected both on the virtual desktop and your own computer.
    • To stop sharing, select the folder and click Remove. Close the window.


    Transferring files between your home computer and the VDI virtual desktop (Windows, using the browser)

    This section tells how to transfer files when you are using the virtual desktop with a browser. If you are using the virtual desktop with the client software, see the previous section.

    Sometimes you need to transfer files from your home computer to a virtual desktop. For example, if you have photos of receipts that you need to attach to a travel invoice on SAP, you can do this in on a virtual desktop as follows:

    Transferring files from your home computer

    • Click on the opening handle of the virtual desktop.
    • Click the file transfer icon on the window that opens.
    • Open the Upload tab
    • Click Choose Files.
    • Locate the file you want to transfer. In this example, Kotikoneella oleva tiedosto.docx.
    • You can add more files by clicking Add more files.
    • Your files will be saved on your personal My Documents folder and they can be used on your work computer.


    Transferring files to your home computer

    • Open the Download tab.
    • Select the file on the virtual desktop by clicking it once. In this example, Etätyöpöydällä oleva tiedosto.
    • The file is now visible in the transfer window.

    Once you have selected all the files you wish to transfer, click the transfer icon on the right.

    • You can open the file or save it on your home computer.

    Printing on a VDI computer

    A VDI computer has the print queue \\birch2\Smartcard-PCL as a local queue and other queues come from the main device used (e.g. your home printer). The printers that can be used depend on the network connection of the main device at each particular moment.

    Read more in the instructions: Printing in the University > Printing from the eduroam network

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