By Ellie / Last Updated March 27, 2023


The case: Access is denied this initial program cannot be started

I access via RDP to Windows Server 2016. However, the error "this initial program cannot be started" and the path appears. What can I do to work it out? I can't find any way to enable RDP applications on the Server now.


Access Is Denied

Actually, access denied the initial program cannot be started error can happen not only on Windows Server 2016, but also on Windows Server 2012 (R2), 2019, and 2022. If you also get such an RDP error, keep reading to realize why it occurs and how to fix it. 

Causes for “Access is denied. This initial program cannot be started”

Before we know the solutions to fix the problem, let’s learn something about the possible reasons for “Access is denied This initial program cannot be started.”

▪ Reason 1. The wrong program path and filename
The client connection might have been configured to start a program upon connection, but the program path and filename are incorrect.

▪ Reason 2. The specific program of the administrator
The server administrator might have specified a program to start upon connection, using Group Policy, Terminal Services Configuration, or other Terminal Services administration tools.

▪ Reason 3. multiple monitors
When there are multiple monitors, Remote Desktop will not work. It always fails when trying to remotely control any session where the user has more than one monitor. The best solution for this one is resorting to third-party software.

Solutions for “ Access is denied. This initial program cannot be started”

Now, let’s get to know more about the solutions for “Access is denied This initial program cannot be started” on Server 2022/2019/2016/2012 (R2) when connecting remotely with RDP.

Solution 1. Configure the settings

Step 1. Search "Remote Desktop Connection" in the Search box.

Step 2. Locate on “ Programs” tab, check and tick the option “ Start the following program on connection”.

Desktop Programs

Solution 2. Add Key and Value to Registry

Step 1. Create a blank document and enter the following lines:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Terminal Server\TSAppAllowList\Applications\calc]"CommandLineSetting"=dword:00000000"RequiredCommandLine"="""Path"="C:\\Windows\\system32\\calc.exe""ShowInTSWA"=dword:00000000"Name"="Calculator""SecurityDescriptor"=""


Create a File

Step 2. Rename the file as the name with .reg suffix, such as "enter.reg". 

Enter a Reg

Step 3. Double click the file, then you can enter “Registry Editor”, click on "Yes", then you’ll receive a warning message, click on "Yes".

Warning of Registry

Step 4. Finally, the keys and values have been successfully added to the registry. Click on “OK” and check if the problem has been solved.

Added to Registry

Solution 3. Allow remote start in Group Policy

Step 1. Press Win + R and input “gpedit.msc” and click on "OK".

Run Box Gpedit

Step 2. Navigation:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Remote Desktop Services > Remote Desktop Session > Connections

Step 3. On the right pane, double click on “Allow remote start of unlisted programs” and enable it.

Allow Remote Start

Note: If you select this option, users can start any program remotely from a .rdp file on the initial connection. And this solution is suitable for server 2016.

Bonus tip: If you encounter RDS access is denied this initial program cannot be started error on Windows 2008, you can configure RemoteApp deployment settings to fix the issue. 

Step 1. Click on the start button, go to “All programs” and then choose "Remote Desktop Services" and the "RemoteApp Manager".

Remoteapp Manager

Step 2. Now you can see “RD Session Host Server Settings” in the left, click on “Change”.

Chage RDP Session

Step 3. Select the “Allow users to start both listed and unlisted programs on initial connection” to enable the RDP client to launch applications, click "OK".

Allow User to Start

Final Solution: free & easy 3rd party remote desktop software - AnyViewer

After reading or trying the above solutions, has your problem been fixed now? If not, there is a final solution that must be suitable for you -- AnyViewer. As free and easy-operated third-party remote access software,  it is supported by a great team. With high security and stable connection, it can be your unmissable choice for remote access to Windows Servers and Windows PCs. For more information on supported OSes, refer to 


  • Be sure of the accessibility of the network.
  • Download and install AnyViewer on both devices.
Download Freeware Windows PCs & Servers
Secure Download

Step 1. Install AnyViewer and then open it. Go to the “Log in” tab, and click on “Sign up”.

Log in AnyViewer

Step 2. Fill in the information to sign up.

Sign up for AnyViewer

Step 3. Now you can see your interface in the following picture. And your device will automatically be assigned to the account. Then you can see the device on "My devices" list.

Free Editions

Step 4. If you have logged in to the same AnyViewer account on the two devices, then you can achieve a direct connection by clicking "One-click control" on the right pane. 

Connect to My Devices

Note: If you want to control the remote  PC without logging the same AnyViewer account on two devices, you can follow these steps:

Step 1. Open AnyViewer on both two computers and then locate the Settings and the device ID.

Temporary Code

Step 2. Click on Settings on the host computer, and then select "Recipient", choose the third option “Set my security code”, input the security code and then click on "OK". Return to the main interface.

Accept Remote Control

Step 3. On the client PC, enter the device ID of the host PC in the partner ID box. Click on “Connect”.


Step 4. A pop-up window appears, tick the second option “Input security code” and input the security code, click on “OK”.

Security Code

Step 5. Now the connection is completed. You can see the desktop of the remote device and do whatever you want to do. 


Note: You can choose "Send a control request to your partner" for attended remote access.


The RDP error “Access is denied This initial program cannot be started” must be addressed through the solutions like configuring the settings, adding Key and Value to Registry, and so on. Absolutely, the solutions above may seem too troublesome. At this time, you can also try the 3rd party tool AnyVeiwer for an easy and secure remote connection to Windows Server 2022/2019/2016/2012 R2.