At some point, you're likely to run into a computer problem or task that's confusing. To figure it out, you need to know how to get the right help. This article provides an overview of the best techniques.

Using Windows Help and Support

Windows Help and Support is the built-in help system for Windows. It's a place to get quick answers to common questions, suggestions for troubleshooting, and instructions for how to do things. Note, however, that it won't help you with a program that is not part of Windows—for that, you'll need to consult the program's Help (see "Getting help with a program" below).

To open Windows Help and Support, click the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then click Help and Support.

Search Help

The fastest way to get help is to type a word or two in the search box. For example, to get information about wireless networking, type wireless network, and then press ENTER. A list of results appears, with the most useful results shown at the top. Click one of the results to read the topic.

Picture of the Search box in Windows Help and Support
Search box in Windows Help and Support

If you're connected to the Internet, your searches can include new Help topics and the latest versions of existing topics from the Windows Help online website. To learn how to get these updates, see Get the latest Help content.

Browse Help

You can browse Help topics by subject. Click the Browse Help button Picture of the Browse Help button in Windows Help and Support , and then click an item in the list of subject headings that appears. Subject headings can contain Help topics or other subject headings. Click a Help topic to open it, or click another heading to dig deeper into the subject list.
Picture of browsing Help topics by subject in Windows Help and Support
Browsing Help topics by subject

Getting help with a program

Almost every program comes with its own built-in Help system.

To open a program's Help system:

  • On the Help menu of the program, click the first item in the list, such as "View Help," "Help Topics," or a similar phrase. (This text will vary.)
    – or –
    Press F1. This function key opens Help in almost any program.

Getting help with dialog boxes and windows

In addition to program-specific help, some dialog boxes and windows contain links to Help topics about their specific functions. If you see a question mark inside a circle or square, or a colored and underlined text link, click it to open the Help topic.

Picture of Help links in dialog boxes and windows
Help links in dialog boxes and windows

Getting help from other Windows users

If you have a question that can't be answered by Help information, you can try getting help from other Windows users.

Search Microsoft Answers

Microsoft Answers is an online community where you can find answers to questions about Windows. It contains information from both Microsoft and other Windows users. You can search Microsoft Answers to see if someone else has already addressed your problem. Or you can browse through the top questions and answers to see if you can find the information you need. If not, post a question in one of the forums. You are likely (but not guaranteed) to get an answer from other users within a day or two.

Invite someone to help via Remote Assistance

If you have a friend or family member who is a computer expert, you can invite that person to connect from his or her computer to your computer via Remote Assistance. That person can then view your computer screen and chat with you about what you both see. With your permission, your helper can even control your computer remotely, allowing him or her to fix the problem directly. See Windows Remote Assistance: frequently asked questions.

Using resources on the web

The web contains a vast amount of information, so there's a good chance that the answer to your question lies somewhere in those billions of webpages. A general search of the web, then, is a good place to start your quest. For more information, see "Searching the web" in Exploring the Internet.

If you don't find what you need using a general search, consider searching websites that focus on Windows or computer problems. Here are four good places to look:

  • Windows Help online. This website provides an online version of all Help topics in this version of Windows, plus instructional videos, in-depth columns, and other useful information. (Go to Windows Help online.)

  • Microsoft Help and Support. Discover solutions to common problems, how-to topics, troubleshooting steps, and the latest downloads. (Go to the Microsoft Help and Support website.)

  • Microsoft Knowledge Base. Search a huge database of articles with detailed solutions to specific problems and computer errors. (Go to the Microsoft Knowledge Base website.)

  • Microsoft TechNet. This site includes resources and technical content for information technology professionals. (Go to the Microsoft TechNet website.)

Getting help from the pros

If all else fails, you can get help from a technical support professional—someone whose job it is to solve computer problems. You can usually contact a support professional by phone, e‑mail, or through an online chat.

Whom you should contact depends on how you obtained Windows. If you bought a new computer and Windows was already installed on it, your computer manufacturer provides support. If you purchased Windows separately, Microsoft provides support. Support might require a fee or be free of charge, depending on the terms of your purchase and whether you've submitted previous support requests.

For customer support options that apply to your computer, including phone numbers, click the Ask button at the top of the Windows Help and Support window.