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How to Use the Rice Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) Environment

To provide greater access and flexibility for select courses, the Rice Office of Information Technology has deployed several software applications to a cloud-based environment. This virtual lab environment is currently hosted in Microsoft Azure.


Connecting to Azure Virtual Desktop Portal

Accessing via a Desktop Client

Accessing via the Web Portal

Accessing via Mobile Apps

Connecting to an Azure Virtual Desktop Resource

First Login

Logging Off

Connecting to Azure Virtual Desktop Portal

The Rice Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) environment can be accessed either through an HTML5-capable browser (such as a recent version of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge) or through a client installed on your computer.

Accessing via a Desktop Client

Microsoft provides client applications for Windows and macOS for connecting to AVD. Using the client application allows for additional functionality such as multi-monitor support and Windows key support.

If you prefer to use a client application to connect rather than a web browser, follow the link below to download the client for your preferred platform. 

Windows Desktop client

macOS client


For Windows:

Once in the Remote Desktop client, click “Subscribe” to auto-subscribe to available AVD environments. Or, click “Subscribe with URL” and enter the following URL:

For macOS:

Once in the Microsoft Remote Desktop client, in the Workspace section click "Add Workspace" and enter the following URL:

When prompted, authenticate with your credentials. 

Accessing via the Web Portal

In a web browser, navigate to the following site:

When prompted, authenticate your credentials.

For additional Microsoft documentation, including supported browser versions, follow this link: Connect to AVD with the web client.

Accessing via Mobile Apps

Microsoft also provides specialized connection apps for mobile devices. More information on these apps can be found at the links below:

iOS client

Android Client

Connecting to an Azure Virtual Desktop Resource

NOTE: The steps in this section are similar for regardless of the method you use to connect to the AVD portal (desktop client, web browser, mobile app), although the prompts may vary slightly.

Connect to the AVD portal by using one of the methods described in the section above. (If you encounter any display issues while using AVD, or if you need multi-monitor support, we recommend that you use the desktop client.) After logging into the portal, you will see the list of desktop and application resources that are available to your account:

screenshot of virtual desktops

Click on a resource to launch it. If prompted, approve any required access to your local computer resources including clipboard, file transfer, or printer and then select the Allow button.

screenshot of Access Local Resources dialog box

NOTE: You can only be logged into one resource at a time.

You will see the startup screen.

screenshot of startup screen with message, Connecting and launching ArcGIS Virtual Desktop

When prompted, enter your credentials to log into the virtual desktop.

dialog box to enter your username and password

After logging in, the desktop environment or application will load within a window.

screenshot of ArcGIS Virtual Desktop window

First Login

The first time you log into an AVD desktop, you will need to sign in to Microsoft Office applications and Microsoft OneDrive. 

The version of Office installed in the AVD environment is Office 2021. Office 2021 requires user sign-in for proper licensing. You will be prompted to sign in the first time that you launch an Office application. Sign in with your credentials.

The recommended storage location for the files that you create and access within the AVD environment is Microsoft OneDrive. You will need to log in to OneDrive the first time that you launch it. After you log in to OneDrive for the first time, you do not need to log out. Your OneDrive will continue to synchronize across the AVD environment so that your OneDrive files are always accessible. You can also access these files from other computers where you are signed in to OneDrive.

To sign in to OneDrive, open the Start menu and click on the OneDrive icon.

screenshot of the start menu with OneDrive icon highlighted

You will then be presented with the “Set up OneDrive” wizard. Enter your as the email address, and then click the “Sign In” button. Enter your NetID credentials to sign in.

dialog box of Set up One Drive. Put your files in OneDrive to get them from any device.

After you are signed in, you will need to click through the rest of the “Set up OneDrive” setup wizard.

screenshot of Your OneDrive Folder. Click the Next button.

The “Set up OneDrive” wizard offers you the option to back up certain folders directly to OneDrive. This will sync these folders so that files saved within them will be stored directly to OneDrive and not the Desktop and Documents folders within your account on the virtual desktop. Some applications offered within the AVD environment do not support this functionality. Click on each folder to deselect it and then click “Continue.” If your application(s) supports it, you may choose to save directly to a folder within your OneDrive from within your application.

(Learn more about “Back up your folders” feature of OneDrive.)

screenshot of Back up your folders dialog box

You can then click through the “Get to know your OneDrive” wizard.

 pop-up box for Get to know your OneDrive. Click the Next button to move forward.

Once through the “Get to know your OneDrive” wizard, OneDrive setup is complete. In the taskbar notification area, the announcement will appear: You are now syncing OneDrive - Rice University. You can edit files in OneDrive - Rice University. Click her to view your files.

screenshot of announcement message

Your OneDrive files will now appear within the Windows File Explorer.

screenshot of list of files

Logging Off

When you are finished, log out of the session by clicking the Start button, then clicking on your name, then selecting “Sign out.”

screenshot highlight the 3 steps of logging off

NOTE: Signing out is the best practice. Choosing “disconnect” or just closing out of your browser window will only disconnect your session. This may prevent other users from accessing the service until your session is signed out. A session will be automatically disconnected after one hour of inactivity and logged out after 3 hours of inactivity.

KeywordsAzure, Azure Virtual Desktop, AVD, virtual lab,   Doc ID130133
OwnerKyle C.GroupRice U
Created2023-08-03 14:46:37Updated2023-09-05 14:55:01
SitesRice University
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