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How to Get Help Online with Computer Problems using Remote Assistance on Windows 7 & Windows Vista

By November 11, 2010 August 4th, 2013 No Comments

If you’re having problems with your desktop computer or laptop and don’t like the idea of having to disconnect everything and take it to a computer shop, or you live in a location which makes a callout service difficult or impossible, then Windows’ Remote Assistance feature means you can still get the help that you need so badly.

It’s very easy to set up and works by allowing the trusted helper to view your computer screen as you describe the problem you’re having. They can then offer help and advice either using a text chat window, or over the phone during a simultaneous call. For more advanced problems, you can also choose to give them full control over your computer (moving the mouse around the screen and so on) so that they can carry out more advanced system repairs.

We must stress that whilst this service is superb for allowing remote fixes over the Internet for a variety of computer problems, it is akin to having someone physically there in the flesh sitting at your computer. Therefore you should only ever complete these steps with someone you would also trust and allow into your home or office. If you feel uncomfortable at any time, you should end the session immediately by pressing “Stop Sharing” or by closing the Remote Assistance window.

Step 1: Load Up the Remote Assistance Client

To get started, we need to open up Remote Assistance. Using the Start Menu’s search feature in Windows 7 or Windows Vista, press the Start Button and type in “Remote Assistance”. After a brief pause, the Remote Assistance icon should appear at the top of the programmes list as shown below:

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Click on the Start Menu and type in Remote Assistance.

Step 2: Create an Invitation to help using Remote Assistance

The main Remote Assistance window will open up, giving you the option to offer help or to request help.

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The Remote Assistance window allows you to give help as well as receive help.

Press the button labelled “Invite someone you trust to help you“. You will then be given a screen like the following one to create a new contact:

1289475304_03-new-contact
If this is the first time you’ve used Remote Assistance, you will need to create a new Contact.

Press the Invite someone to help you option. If you have used Remote Assistance in the past, previous contacts may be displayed underneath the new option. If appropriate, you may use a previous contact or proceed to create a new one.

To establish contact with your helper, you will be given a screen with the following three options:

1289475496_04-Invitation-Methods
Depending on your version of Windows, there are either 2 or 3 ways you can connect your computer to the helper’s.

The next step will differ slightly depending on your computer’s setup. On older systems still running Windows Vista, the third option – Easy Connect – is not available. If you use a web-based email service such as Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail etc., you should select Save this invitation as a file. You will then be given the following dialogue box to save a small file called Invitation.msrcIncident which you should email as an attachment to your helper:

1289475741_05-Save-invitation-file
If you’re using a web based email service, save the Invitation file and then send it as an attachment.

You should then save the Invitation file in your Documents folder, ready to send as an attachment in your web-based email service. If you are unsure how to send an attachment, please refer to your email service’s documentation for further details.

If you use an email programme such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird, you may select the Use e-mail to send invitation option, and this will automatically load up a new message in your email programme with the Invitation file already attached and ready for sending.

You will be given a special email address to send your Invitation file to. In addition, to prevent unauthorised parties using the Invitation file to gain access to your computer, Remote Assistance will generate a secret password like the example below:

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A password will be generated which you should pass to your helper.

You should communicate the password to your helper via a different means to that which you sent the Invitation file! We recommend that you tell your helper the password over the phone or using a different email account.

Windows 7 users note: you may press the Use Easy Connect option to connect to your helper’s computer, bypassing the need to create and email an Invitation file to the helper.

Step 3: Allowing Access to View Your Computer Screen

After a short delay whilst your helper inputs the password information to connect to your computer, you will be given the following prompt on your computer screen:

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Make sure you trust the name of the computer requesting to connect to your own.

You should press Yes to allow your helper to see your computer screen. Make sure that you have agreed with your helper the name of their computer so that you can be sure that you’re not giving access to an unauthorised party. When you press Yes to allow access, you will see this small window:

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The Remote Assistance window tells you that the helper can see your computer screen.

The Remote Assistance status bar tells you that the helper can see your desktop. You may communicate with your helper either by using the Chat feature, or by talking to them on a simultaneous phone call.

Step 4: Give your helper Remote Control of your Computer to enable them to Fix your Problem

Once you have demonstrated the problem you are experiencing with your computer, it is likely that your helper will require control of your computer in order to carry out a repair. You still share control of your computer and may relinquish control at any time if you desire. Once you have agreed that the helper should request control, you will see this alert box:

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Allow your helper control over your computer so that they can fix your problem.

Make sure the box is ticked that reads “Allow [your helper] to respond to User Account Control prompts” before you press Yes. Depending on your settings, you may need to authorise this by pressing Continue on another prompt box.

To confirm that your helper is now sharing control of your screen, you will see the Remote Assistance status bar change to reflect this:

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The Remote Assistance status bar tells you that your helper shares control of your computer.

Your helper will then be able to control your computer as if they were sitting at your computer in the flesh. Once they have finished fixing the problem, you may press the Stop Sharing button, or close the Remote Assistance window be pressing the red X in the top-right corner.

Paul Freeman-Powell

Paul Freeman-Powell

Paul (@paulfp) is the main presenter of the award-winning Switched On Network YouTube Channel, which covers a variety of interesting topics usually relating to his love of technology and all things geeky. He also founded and runs Innobella Media, where he leads in all aspects of video production, video editing, sound & lighting. A father of 3 children including twins, his hobbies used to include photography, playing the drums and cycling. With a degree in Modern European Languages, Paul speaks French, Spanish and a little bit of Italian, and holds dual British & Irish citizenship.

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