Sanjay ilovecold at gmail.com
Mon Sep 27 05:39:34 EDT 2010

Ever felt the frustration of trying to help someone fix their computer by

talking to them over the phone? simon edwards shows how to take matters into

your own hands

We've all been there, frustrated and cross, trying to help someone fix their PC

by talking them through a series of instructions over the phone. Trying to

visualise how their software or version of Windows works can be tricky to all

but the most well-practiced technical support engineer. However, if you got

your hands on their computer, the chances are you'd be able to sort out the

problem in seconds. In this walkthrough, we show you how to control someone

else's PC over the internet, using the software that's built into every modern

version of Windows.

If the PC you want to control is on your local network then you can just follow

last month's How To... Control multiple PCs. However, if a friend or relative

calls you out of the blue you're going to need a way to log on over the internet

on the hoof, without them having to reconfigure their firewall to allow you


If you have physical access to a computer that belongs to someone you know will

probably need help at some point in the future, you can make life easier for

yourself (and them) by installing Windows Live Messenger (

http://download.live.com/messenger). You could also set them up with a Windows

Live ID account, which is free. This combination will enable you to chat with

them online. As we explain below, it has another very significant benefit.

Remote Assistance is a Windows feature that lets you ask someone for help and,

within certain limits, permits them to log in and fix your computer. The

easiest way to initiate this is to chat using Windows Live Messenger. We'll

show you how to work this way first of all, and then we'll explain an

alternative approach for those who don't have this software installed, or can't

use it.


If your friend's problem is related to wireless networking ask them to connect

their PC directly to their ADSL router using a network cable. Unless their

internet connection is down - in which case, you're never going to be able to

log in without doing some advanced work with old fashioned modems - this will

probably be enough to get them online. Then ask them to load Windows Live

Messenger and start chatting.


Once you've established contact online, ask them to click on the Activities menu

and choose the Request Remote Assistance option. You'll receive a request in

the chat window. Click the Accept link or press Alt-C.


At this stage, two things will happen simultaneously. On your friend's screen a

message will appear, asking if they would like to allow you to connect - this

comes with the warning that you'll be able to see everything on their Desktop.

At the same time, a large black Remote Assistance window will appear on your

screen. As soon as your friend clicks the Yes button, the black screen will be

replaced with an exact (although probably scaled-down) representation of their

Desktop. You'll be able to see them run programs, move windows and perform

other tasks.


If you need to take full control remotely, click the Take Control button at the

top left of the Remote Assistance window. Your friend will be asked, "Would you

like to allow youremailaddress at yourisp.com to share control of your Desktop?"

Once they click the Yes button, you can both use the computer at the same time.

Ask them to leave the mouse and keyboard alone as you try to solve their

problem. When you've finished, click the Disconnect button on the top menu.


If your friend doesn't have access to Windows Live Messenger, and their email

works, ask them to run Windows Remote Assistance manually. Windows XP has a

shortcut on its Accessories menu, while Windows 7 keeps it in the Maintenance

folder. Both are available from the Start menu. When they've clicked on it,

ask them to choose the option called 'Invite someone you trust to help you'. On

the next screen, they should click the 'Save this invitation as a file' option.

They will be prompted to save a file, which you can suggest they do directly on

their Desktop. They will now see a small window containing a password, which

they should tell you over the phone.


Ask your friend to send you an email with the file they saved in Step 5

attached. When you download and run this file, enter the password that your

friend told you in the same step and you'll find yourself at Step 3. If they

click Yes to the prompts, you'll be able to log in and control their computer


Technical telepathy: 09969636745
Saints are not always saints; sinners are not always sinners.

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