Virtual Desktop Service

Using your Virtual Desktop

Let’s open your Desktop for the first time! Click the green Open Desktop button.

Open Desktop button

Now you will see a desktop environment, with some similarities to what you know with your standard computer. You have a taskbar at the top, a menu button to access applications, and folders on your desktop itself.

desktop map

Finding programs

To find programs you can navigate via the menu button called Applications in the top left corner. You have the basics, like an Internet Browser, Terminal and Office suite. Let’s open the Terminal. It should be the second option under Applications.


Once you’ve opened the Terminal, you can type in commands as normal. One good command to know, even if you haven’t used the terminal before is:

sudo apt-get upgrade

In a nutshell, this command tells your virtual desktop two things:

  • sudo elevates you to administrator priviledges
  • apt-get upgrade is telling your computer to check for upgrades

If there are updates available, you will be asked if you want to install them, and you can respond with typing a y into the Terminal and hitting the enter key.

Call Security! 🚨
It is good security practice to check for updates. You should do this each day you log into the Desktop for the first time. This ensures you have the latest Security patches. There is further information on our Security Guidelines here.

Copy and Pasting

Copy and pasting should work as normal, between your local computer and the Virtual Desktop. However, we are aware of a few minor anomalies:

  • If you are using a Mac, you would use your Commmand key as normal when copying from your local computer, but use Ctrl instead when pasting to the Virtual Desktop.
  • When using Firefox browser and the NeuroDesktop, there are extra steps required to ensure the copy/paste function works. Instructions can be found here.

Moving files

Moving files back and forth is easy! All you have to do, is drag and drop between you local computer and the Virtual Desktop window.

Try it now! Drag and Drop something to the desktop. You will see in the bottom right hand corner, a box will appear with the name of your file you transfered.

file transfer

But, you may be wondering where the actual file went! Doesn’t matter where you drag and drop your file, whether it’s to the desktop or a particular folder, it will always go to the thinclient_drives first (it’s like a USB in the file explorer!).

To navigate to the files you added:

  1. Open the File System folder on your Desktop

    file system

  2. On the left hand side, under Devices, select thinclient_drives, then open the GUACFS folder.


  3. Here you should see the file(s) you transferred.

    success file transferred

Now, you can move this to where ever you want to store this, for example, your Documents folder. You can do this any way you normally would on your computer, whether its drag and drop or copy and paste etc.

It is important to move your files from the GUACFS directory into your Virtual Desktop, as this location is only for file transfer and your files are not guaranteed to persist there.

To download a file to your local desktop:

  1. Navigate to Devices, thinclient_drives, then open the GUACFS folder.

  2. Drag and drop your file onto the Download folder. This will immediately begin the download process within the browser.

You’re up and running!
Well done. You’ve accessed your Desktop for the first time, opened applications, and learnt how to move files back and forth. In the next tutorial we will learn about how to manage your desktop.