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VDS: virtual desktop

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Get access to a virtual Windows 10 desktop using the Virtual Desktop Service (VDS).

The virtual desktop has the same look and feel as a managed University PC, and you can access your filestore and commonly used software.

Virtual Desktop Service ยป (Setup required)



Available to all staff & students.

Duo two-factor authentication is required to log in.

The Virtual Desktop Service (VDS) gives you secure access to a virtual Windows 10 desktop.

You can connect to the VDS from most devices, including:

  • Managed University computers
  • Windows, Mac and Linux desktop or laptop computers
  • Chromebooks
  • Android and iOS tablets or phones

Available desktop & software

When you connect, you will have access to UniDesktop or StudentDesktop (students only).

UniDesktop includes software available on classroom PCs and office PCs. 

Software available on UniDesktop includes:

  • SPSS
  • EndNote
  • Microsoft Office
  • Chrome

For the best experience in terms of speed and functionality, we recommend downloading and installing the Parallels client software, and then logging in to from your web browser.

Ways to connectNotes
From a web browser on your computer

You'll need to install an app and do a quick setup before you use it for the first time.

From Chrome

If you're using Chrome on any device, you can install the Parallels client extension. Visit the Chrome Web Store, and select Add to Chrome.


Launch the Virtual Windows 10 desktop within your web browser (no software required).

Instructions for using VDS HTML5

Other software options

On request, we can use the VDS to give you access to a specific piece of software without having to use the full Windows desktop.

For example, this might be useful for someone who needs to run an older version of MS Word as well as the current version. Running it as a seamless application on the VDS will avoid any conflicts normally associated with running multiple versions of software on one machine.

Contact the Library and IT Help Desk with your requirements.

Setup guides

Installing the Parallels client

To log in to the VDS, you will first need to make sure that you have registered for Duo two-factor authentication. This provides an extra layer of security.

Signing in

Signing in to the VDS

To log in to the VDS, you will first need to make sure that you have registered for Duo two-factor authentication. This provides an extra layer of security.

Once you are registered for Duo, you can log in to the VDS by following these steps:

1. Go to, enter your University username and password and click Login

2. A pop-up window will appear like the one below:

The Virtual Desktop prompting for One Time Passcode/OTP after a username and password was entered.

3. In the 'OTP' field:

  • If you are using push notifications with the Duo Mobile app, enter the word push and click OK - you will then receive a notification from the Duo Mobile app to confirm the login.
  • If you are using SMS or a hard token to receive a Duo authentication code, enter an authentication code into the OTP box. 
    • If you have already used all the passcodes that were sent to you by SMS and need a new batch, type SMS - you will receive a new batch of codes by SMS text message.

You will then be redirected to your usual list of virtual desktop options.

Help & troubleshooting

Library & IT Help Desk

If you're having problems using the Virtual Desktop Service, get in touch with the Library and IT Help Desk.

Our commitments

Service status Live and supported service.
Hours of service 24/7
Service support For help and support with this service, contact the Library and IT Help Desk.
Hours of support Help from the Library & IT Help Desk is available 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Target availability

General IT Services targets:

Review cycle Every three years
Policies York local acceptable use policy
Our performance

Our service standards have been produced in consultation with our customers, and monitor the quality, timeliness and access to facilities and services:

Complaints procedure

If you wish to give us general feedback on this service, please see our Feedback page for ways to get in touch.

If you wish to make a complaint, please see our complaints procedure.

Software available

Software available through the VDS

Below is a list of software available on both the student and staff desktops:

  • 7-Zip
  • Accelrys Discovery Studio
  • Accelrys Draw
  • ACD/Labs Spectrus Processor
  • Adobe Digital Editions
  • Adobe Flash Player ActiveX
  • Adobe Flash Player NPAPI
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader 2017
  • Anaconda2
  • Anaconda3
  • ArcGIS Pro
  • Audacity
  • Blender
  • BlueJ
  • CCP4MG
  • CereVoice SAPI TechDis Jack (CereVoice)
  • CereVoice SAPI TechDis Jess (CereVoice)
  • CereVoice SAPI x64 TechDis Jack (CereVoice)
  • CereVoice SAPI x64 TechDis Jess (CereVoice)
  • ChemDraw
  • CLAN
  • CodeBlocks
  • Ebrary
  • ELAN Windows
  • EndNote
  • Fiji
  • Firefox
  • G*power
  • Gaussian
  • GaussView
  • GhostScript
  • Gnuplot
  • Google Chrome
  • GSView
  • Inkscape
  • JASP
  • OpenJDK 11
  • LyX
  • Matlab
  • Mendeley Desktop
  • Mercury
  • MeshLab
  • Microsoft Office
  • MiKTeX
  • MinGW
  • MySQL Connector/ODBC x64
  • NHS eLearning Materials
  • Notepad++
  • Oeuvres completes de Voltaire
  • Praat
  • PuTTY
  • R
  • RStudio
  • Rtools
  • SHMo
  • SPSS Amos Graphics
  • SPSS Statistics
  • Stata
  • TeXLive
  • TeXMaker
  • Tinn-R
  • TreeView
  • TurningPoint
  • VeraCrypt
  • VLC Player
  • VuBar
  • WinBugs
  • WinDirStat
  • WinEdt
  • WinSCP
  • x2go client

UniDesktop only

Certain software is only available to staff:

  • AGRESSO Batch Input Formatter
  • AGRESSO Report Engine
  • Corel Draw
  • Corel PaintShop Pro
  • Corel PDF Fusion
  • CRSPSift
  • Eviews
  • FileOpen Client
  • Maple
  • Mathematica
  • MathPlayer Plugin
  • MestReNova
  • Microfit
  • MindGenius
  • NVivo
  • Oracle Instant Client
  • Origin
  • OxMetrics
  • PPCME Penn Parsed Corpus
  • PyMOL
  • Reaper
  • Scientia Syllabus Plus
  • Scientific WorkPlace
  • Sibelius- OpenType Fonts
  • Sibelius
  • SigmaPlot
  • SITS Shortcuts