Have you ever had a friend or a relative call you and want to get your help with their computer? I know if you work in IT you probably have a few people that call you from time to time. It doesn't seem to matter if you know how to do computer support or if you program for a living, they hear you work in technology and you are one of the calls they make when having an issue. This is the curse of the IT professional, at least any IT professional that has friends or relatives...
I had heard of Remote Assistance and even used it with Microsoft Support a few times in the past I had not ever used it with a customer, friend or relative until recently. The conversation went something like this: "Hey Lance, can you help me with a problem on my home PC?" Then trying to understand what the problem was using only my imagination as to what was happening. I wished that I could see the screen and I didn't want to sign up for one of the free screen sharing utilities and get put on yet another email list. I thought, lets try to use Microsoft's Windows Remote Assistance, how hard could it be?
It is not actually that hard if using Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, like many other Microsoft programs, it is just a bit esoteric.
The remote user was using Windows 8. I searched Google and found a Microsoft FAQ which got me going in the right direction. It was/is an OK document, but lacked directions for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 (at the time of my blog). The Easy Connect sounds like it would be easy, but was not an option when setting up the remote users connection. We used the invitation file instead which worked great.
Follow these directions for Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 - To get help using an invitation file.
I found that trying to perform the same solution of searching for the name "Windows Remote Assistance" in Windows 8.1 gave me many results but not a single result was the application I was looking for, so use the same method as windows 7.
- Right Click on the Start button, select Run
- Type the following without the quotes "msra.exe"
- click ok.
- Follow the rest of the directions above at step 2 for Windows 8.
Follow these directions for Windows 8 - To get help using an invitation file
- Open Windows Remote Assistance by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering Windows Remote Assistance in the search box, clicking Apps, and then clicking Windows Remote Assistance.
- Click on the Invite someone you trust to help you
- If you're using an email app on your PC, click Use email to send an invitation.
- To save the invitation and send it via a web based browser or other method, click Save this invitation as a file.
- Attach and send the file to the support person. (since you are most likely the support person, describe this process to the user over the phone and have them send the file to you)
- A password will pop up on the users screen inside of the Windows Remote Assistance Window, you will need this to connect to the remote computer. (don't have the user email it, this is not good security practice)
- Instruct the user to click accept when you connect, they will get a warning message indicating that you will be able to see everything on their screen after you connect.
Follow these directions to help someone using an invitation file
- Open Windows Remote Assistance on your Computer, same method as the remote user would perform.
- Click Help someone who has invited you.
- Save the invitation file from your email in an easily accessible location (Documents or Downloads)
- Click on the Use an invitation file
- Select the invitation file from the easily accessible location you saved it
- The Windows Remote Assistance Window opens and prompts for the password to connect to the remote computer.
- Type in the password (the password is not case sensitive) and click OK
- After the user clicks OK (so you can see their screen) you will be able to actually see what your friend/relative/co-worker/other is doing.
There are a couple useful tools.
Request control - allows you to share mouse and keyboard control with the remote user.
Chat - you can remote chat with the user.
Pause - allows the remote computer to hide the screen for a bit