As a technically gifted individual, you’re likely one of the first people your family or friends turn to when they have a computer problem. Though you might not have signed up to be their personal help desk, you don’t want to leave them hanging when they encounter trouble. The good news is that providing assistance doesn’t require an onsite visit. We reviewed the basic Windows version in this post. But there are easy options for those who are more advanced. Below are five of our favorite remote support tools that allow you to troubleshoot another person’s computer remotely.
Chrome Remote Desktop
Chrome Remote Desktop is a Web browser plugin available for free from the Chrome Web Store. This plugin allows you to remotely control another person’s computer. Likewise, it allows your computer to be controlled remotely by someone else (once permission has been granted. In order to use Chrome Remote Desktop to access someone’s computer, you will both need to download and install the plugin.
One of the advantages of this remote support tool is that it is cross-platform. Thus, if you have a Mac but your friend has a PC, you can easily connect. Another advantage is that remote availability can be granted for a short time period. Thus, your friends do not need to worry about you having unlimited access to their computers.
Once installed, the other person will need to launch Chrome Remote Desktop and “share” his or her computer.
If this is the first time he or she has used the app, the Chrome Remote Desktop Host installer file will be downloaded and need to be installed. From there, the software will issue an access code that you will need in order to remotely control the user’s computer.
Launch Chrome Remote Desktop and click on Access.
You’ll be prompted to enter the access code, after which time you’ll be granted access and able to control your friend’s computer.
Windows Remote Assistance
Windows Remote Assistance comes preinstalled on the Windows operating system. If you and the other person both have a Windows PC, then this is a viable option. The other person will need to “invite” you to help using Easy Connect. This will generate a password for you to use to remotely control the computer.
The other user will need to launch Windows Remote Assistance, click on “Invite someone you trust to help you,” and then follow the prompts to invite you using a file or email.
You will need to follow similar steps. You’ll launch Windows Remote Assistance and click on “Help someone who has invited you.” Depending on how you were invited, you’ll either click on “Use Easy Connect,” or “Use an invitation file.” If you received an email invitation, the email message will contain the appropriate actions to take.
Join.me Remote Support
Join.me is primarily a teleconferencing tool. However, it includes screen-sharing features, and it allows users to grant other users permission to remotely control their computers. You can also record the screen-sharing session, allowing your friends to review the steps at their leisure in the future (and potentially saving you from having to help them out yet again). If you need to be able to speak with the other person while taking control of their computers, this is a great option.
Both users will need to download Join.me‘s software. It’s fast and easy. However, you’ll need to have the Pro plan in order to take advantage of remote control and video recording.
Go to My PC
Go to My PC is a one of the best remote support tools, especially if you want to control your own computers remotely using your smartphone or tablet. The individual license allows one user to control one or more computers for a monthly fee, though a free trial version is available should you have a one-time need. This software is designed primarily for remotely controlling your own computers but you could set up a family member’s or a friend’s computer as one of your devices if so desired.
One of the downsides is that the other user may have qualms about giving you unrestricted access to his or her computer. To resolve this, show the other person how to change the access code after the session — or even uninstall the software.
Built for business, Team Viewer is also one of the best remote support tools available. What’s neat about this one is that while the software itself is pricey, it is available free for private use. Thus, helping your mom out in a pinch won’t cost you a penny.
Team Viewer has a robust feature set that includes: remote access, remote control, mobile access, and even online meetings. It is also cross platform, making it ideal for helping family and friends who use other operating systems.
As with most of the other remote support tools, your friend will also need to download and install the Team Viewer software before you can remotely control his or her computer. Once that’s done, you’ll need the remote computer’s Team Viewer ID and password in order to connect.
On your end, you’ll need to install the software, launch it, and then enter your friend’s Team Viewer ID and password in the Control Remote Computer section.
Not only can you remotely control the other person’s computer during your remote control session, you can also transfer filers, initiate chats, share your own screen, use VoIP, and use your computers’ webcams to communicate with each other.
Each of these remote support tools can help you to help your family members and friends troubleshoot their computer problems. If you both have Windows, the quickest option is to use Windows Remote Assistance. On the other hand, if you have different platforms, or if you need to connect via a mobile device, you may want to look into one of the other options.
If you anticipate needing to provide remote assistance on a regular basis, such as helping your parents with their new PC, you may want to spend a few minutes pre-installing and configuring a remote support tool so that when the time comes, they won’t need to handle this task on their own.