Windows 7 Remote Tools: Remote Assistance

Everyone who works on computers has them – friends and family who ask for computer help, but invariably can’t describe the problem they’re having, when it started, or anything else about it in a helpful way.

Now, I don’t mind helping these people out, but one thing I hate is phone support. I can easily fix a problem if I’m able to look at the screen and click around a bit myself, but on the phone I can only see and do what the user can see and do, and this isn’t always helpful.

Luckily, Microsoft has a solution for people like me – it’s called Remote Assistance, and it’s been built into Windows since the XP days. Using the Remote Desktop Connection technology (see my previous piece here), it allows one person to “invite” another person to look at their screen and, if permission is given, take control of the computer to troubleshoot.

Since Remote Assistance can be used to access files and settings on your computer, it goes without saying that you should only use this tool with people you trust.

To begin, both the assistant and the assistee must have Windows Remote Assistance open on their computers. It can be found in the Start menu by typing “Windows Remote Assistance” in the search box.

grey Windows 7 Remote Tools: Remote Assistance

Windows Remote Assistance

We’ll follow the assistee first, the person who needs the help. Click Invite Someone you trust to help you.

grey Windows 7 Remote Tools: Remote Assistance

Invite someone you trust to help you

You’ve got a number of options here. If you use a web-based email provider like Gmail or Yahoo! mail, you can save the invitation as a file and send it as an attachment to the person who will be helping you. If you use a client-based email service like Windows Live Mail or Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird, you can click Use e-mail to send an invitation to help automate this process. The person assisting you will need that file and the 12 digit alphanumerical password that appears on the screen in order to connect to your computer.

You can also try to use the Easy Connect option to connect the two computers – for this method, both computers will connect to a remote server and, using a password, they can find and connect to each other. Both computers must be on a network that allows such connections – some businesses may have firewalls that prevent Easy Connect from working normally.

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7 Responses to Windows 7 Remote Tools: Remote Assistance

  1. Anonymous November 27, 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    I like Windows RA, but TeamViewer (free for private, non-commercial situations) is a little easier to use for both parties. Any form of remotely controlling another computer is really annoying if the less-than-tech-savvy friend/relative is using a dial-up connection. That’s where the Problem Steps Recorder comes in handy.

  2. MatjaĆŸ November 28, 2009 at 1:59 am #

    for private purposes I use Yuuguu … where unexperienced user with just few clicks enable me remote access ;-)

  3. Shanegrubbs January 26, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    Is there a way to put the Windows Remote Assistance on your desktop as a shortcut or as a favorite without having to go through the Help & Support each time?

    I am using Windows 7 to connect to XP machines and Easy Connect is not an option so i have to access the Windows Remote Assistance through several steps.

    • Redesterdragon February 4, 2011 at 4:36 pm #

      yes start the program right click it on the task bar then click pin to task bar

    • Minithumbs February 10, 2011 at 12:28 am #

      untested yet but apparently the icon path is
      %windir%system32msra.exe /offerra

  4. may.bel February 28, 2011 at 3:05 am #

    how to keep your remote assistance window open after closing a remote assistance session? im a tech support, and it usually takes time to opeb msra after disconnecting from a remote client.

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