Virtual Desktop

The Virtual Desktop allows Ohio State students and instructors to virtually access a select set of software applications from any device with internet access.

Students and instructors at the university have access to the Virtual Desktop by either logging in to or installing the Citrix Workspace client to access advanced features. All available Virtual Desktop software applications can be used from any device and any location that has internet access. This cloud access enables extended use of these applications for students outside of physical lab spaces and allows instructors to provide the same coursework for both in-person and remote learning. Simply log in, open the software you need, such as SPSS or Minitab, and begin your work.

Available Software Applications

Adobe Creative Cloud including:

  • Acrobat Pro
  • After Effects
  • Animate
  • Illustrator
  • InDesign
  • Lightroom Classic
  • Photoshop
  • Premier Pro
  • Premier Rush


  • Microsoft Access
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Project (for educational purposes only)
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft Visio (for educational purposes only)
  • Microsoft Word


  • FastX
  • Matlab
  • Minitab (web version; Minitab access requires account approval. Learn more about requesting access on the Site Licensed Software page.)
  • SAS
  • SPSS
  • Visual Studio Code


How It Works

  1. Log in at or install the Citrix Workspace client for access to advanced features such as keyboard shortcuts. You will receive an automatic Duo push during login. 
  2. Click on the Start menu and open the application you want to access to begin your work. 
  3. Save your files to OneDrive or Teams. Save your work early and often in Virtual Desktop and do not save files locally within Virtual Desktop. Your sessions in Virtual Desktop are non-persistent, meaning once you sign out or go inactive, you will not able to access your work from the previous session unless you have saved it to OneDrive or Teams. 
  4. Sign out by double-clicking the Sign Out icon on the desktop. The Virtual Desktop will automatically sign you out after one hour of inactivity. 

Video Demo: Connecting to Virtual Desktop

Visit the Administrative Resource Center for more information about how to use Virtual Desktop

University employees and guests: 
Use and password 

Use and password 

You will receive an automatic Duo push during login. 

Need access to advanced features? Install the Citrix Workspace client.

You may prefer this method for more robust features like keyboard shortcuts.

Accessibility: If you are keyboard reliant or use a screen reader, please email your Access Specialist with the subject line “Virtual Desktop Assistance” to receive assistance accessing the software available via Virtual Desktop.


What type of technology do I need to have to access Virtual Desktop?

The Virtual Desktop is compatible with most devices. The only requirement is that the device is able to connect to the internet. This includes both Mac and Windows Operating Systems, desktops, laptops, and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. 

Most Virtual Desktop users prefer to access the tool on the same type of device they would typically use to operate the software they are accessing via the Virtual Desktop. For example, we find that most people prefer to use SPSS on a laptop or desktop, instead of a tablet or smartphone, due to the screen size and amount of data they are able to see at one time.

If you are a student and have questions about the type of device you should have for your coursework, we recommend reaching out to the academic advisor in your college. 

What amount of internet bandwidth is required to use the Virtual Desktop?

Virtual Desktop will generally consume between 1-2Mbps of bandwidth (about 10-20% of the bandwidth needed to stream a 1080p movie on Netflix). This can fluctuate depending on the amount of audio or video data being transmitted back to your device from the Virtual Desktop.

How do I use Virtual Desktop?

You can use Virtual Desktop by going to and logging in. You can also access the tool by installing the Citrix Workspace client which will allow you to access more advanced features of the application. Access resources on how to use Virtual Desktop in the Administrative Resource Center.

How has Virtual Desktop been used at Ohio State?

The College of Engineering and the Knowlton School of Architecture developed a Virtual Desktop environment to improve the student experience prior to the pandemic. With the abrupt transition to remote teaching and learning at the beginning of the pancemic, this resource was critical in enabling students to access software that would typically be in a lab or classroom, require a high-powered computer or cost a signficant amount of money to purchase and download on their own device.

In Autumn 2021, the College of Engineering partnered with the Office of Technology and Digital Innovation to offer a Virtual Desktop pilot program for instructors and students at Ohio State Lima and in select classes for the College of Arts and Sciences. The Virtual Desktop was used by students in a wide range of learning environments, including a full classroom lab replacement, as part of classroom requirements and as a supplemental tool to assist with coursework completion.

In a post-pilot survey, the feedback from sixty students who completed the survey was overwhelmingly positive. Ninety-five percent of students felt the Virtual Desktop was easy to learn, 81% of students hoped to continue to have access to the Virtual Desktop resource and 84% of students indicated it was easier to access the software they needed for their classes with the Virtual Desktop. Of the six instructors who used the tool in their coursework and completed the survey, the feedback was unanimously positive. One-hundred percent of instructors positively indicated they would like to access to the Virtual Desktop tool again for their class and it improved access to the software the students needed to complete their coursework.

How do I store data and files when using Virtual Desktop?

You need to store data and files in OneDrive and Teams, the university’s supported cloud storage systems, while using Virtual Desktop. You should not save files locally (e.g. Documents, Downloads, Desktop, Pictures folders) in Virtual Desktop. Files and data saved inside the Virtual Desktop, and not in OneDrive or Teams, will be erased upon logoff.

I would like to use this tool in my coursework, but the software we use is not included. Can I request to have software added?

The software that is currently available in Virtual Desktop will remain the only available software in Virtual Desktop through 2024.

I teach/learn in the College of Engineering. Am I supposed to use this tool or the College of Engineering Virtual Desktop? 

The College of Engineering has their own Virtual Desktop tool that allows students and instructors in the college to access a different set of software. If you are in this college, you can learn more about the COE Virtual Desktop on their website

Are staff able to use Virtual Desktop? 

Currently, Virtual Desktop is only available to students, instructors, and staff that provide support directly for the tool.