Demo: Get (or give) a helping hand using Remote Assistance

Snapshot from this demo

Watch this demo to learn how to use Windows Remote Assistance to allow someone you trust, such as a friend or technical support person, to connect to your computer and walk you through a solution—even if that person isn't nearby.




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If you’re having a problem with your computer, sometimes it can be difficult to describe it. You might find yourself thinking it’d be a lot easier if I could just show someone what I mean. Well, in Windows, there’s a way to do just that. Hi, I’m Andy Sweet…

...and I’m Charlene Shepard. We’re writers on the Windows team at Microsoft. Today we’re going to show you how to give or get help using Windows Remote Assistance.

Remote Assistance is a feature in Windows that lets you invite someone you trust to have temporary access to your computer over the Internet so they can help you. After you invite someone to help, the other person can view your computer screen and you can chat about what you both see. With your permission, your friend can control your computer and show you how to fix a problem. And you can end the session anytime you want, so you’re always in control.

The great thing about Remote Assistance is it doesn’t matter if you are on the other side of town or the other side of the world—all you really need is a connection to the Internet—a fast broadband connection, like cable or DSL, works best. So now let's do a quick demonstration. Let’s say that I can't remember how to add an item to my Start menu. I’ve called my friend Charlene on the phone and she said she's willing to help. All I need to do is send her a remote assistance invitation using e-mail.

To get started, click Start, type Remote Assistance in the search box, and then click Windows Remote Assistance. Now it’s important to remember that when you use Remote Assistance, only ask someone you trust, because the other person will have temporary access to anything on your computer.

Since I’m asking for help, I’ll click Invite someone you trust to help you. I’m going to choose the first option: Use e-mail to send an invitation. Remote Assistance then asks you to create a password for extra security. You’ll give this password to the person who is helping you—it’s safest to do this over the phone or in person, so you know the password is in the right hands. I’ll type a password, type it again to confirm it, and then click Next.

Remote Assistance creates an e-mail message with the invitation already attached. I just have to type Charlene’s address in the To field and then click Send. You can see the Remote Assistance window stays on my screen to remind me I’ve invited someone to help.

As I open the e-mail, Andy calls me back and tells me the password. I double-click the attachment, enter the password, and then click OK, and Remote Assistance opens.

After Charlene clicks OK on her computer, I now see a prompt on my computer asking me if I want to allow her to connect. I click Yes. Now Charlene can see my desktop from her computer. I’d like Charlene to be able to see my desktop background so I click Settings, slide the bandwidth usage slider up a notch, and then click OK.

I’m connected to Andy’s computer, but I can’t change anything yet—I have to ask permission by clicking Request control.

I’ll check Allow Charlene to respond to User Account Control prompts. This means she can accept any prompts that might occur, which will speed things up for us. I click Yes, and Continue. Her screen goes dark for just a second…

...and now I have access to Andy’s computer! We can use the built-in chat window to ask and answer each others’ questions. Right, Andy wanted me to show him how to add a program to his Start menu. I’ll type a response and then show him how. It’s just like I’m using his keyboard and mouse. Andy can see my mouse move and watch what I do, just as if I was there with him.

Having Charlene help me this way is a lot easier than having her describing what to do over the phone. And the great thing is, even though I’ve given her access, I’m still in control because I initiated the invitation. I can take control of the keyboard and mouse whenever I need to, just by moving the mouse or typing, and I can end the session at any time. Plus, I can watch how she did this so I’ll remember how to do it myself next time.

When we’re all finished, I click Disconnect to end the session and then click Yes. That’s it—she’s completely off of my computer and no longer has control, and I’m back at work.

Remote Assistance is a great way to get help from friends and family who might be many miles away. So, the next time you’re having a problem with your computer...

...and you’ve got a trusted friend online who can help you, remember to give Remote Assistance a try.