Remote Assistance in Windows 7

Before you start

Objectives: Learn how to create invitations and use them to initiate Remote assistance connection.

Prerequisites: you have to know what is Remote Assistance in general.

Key terms: Remote Assistance, remote management, helper, Windows 7, invitation

 Remote Assistance

The main benefit of Remote Assistance is that it can be initiated from remote user. Once the session is established, we can view their screen and chat with the remote user.

In order for Remote Assistance to work, it must be enabled on the destination computer. By default, Remote Assistance is enabled, but we can check this in the System Properties, on the Remote tag. To open System Properties, go to Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > System.

1 Remote Settings

Remote Settings

Have in mind that Remote Assistance is different and separated from Remote Desktop. Computer can have Remote Assistance access without having Remote Desktop enabled, and vice versa.

If we click on the Advanced button, we can specify if we want to allow our computer be controlled or not, and specify how long the invitations can remain open.

2 Remote Assistance Settings

Advanced Settings

When the Remote Assistance session is established, the person who is helping can request to control the machine. We can take away that option by unchecking this box. By default, invitations last six hours after we create them. If the invitation is not used until then, it will expire.  On this window we can also make sure that invitation cannot be run from any machine other than Windows Vista or later. If we check this, Windows XP machines won’t be able to use that invitation to initiate a Remote Assistance session.

Creating Invitations

To create an invitation, which is the first step in establishing a Remote Assistance connection, we can go to Start > All Programs > Maintenance > Windows Remote Assistance. On this screen, we can either invite someone to help us or we can help someone that’s inviting us by opening their invitation.

3 Remote Assistance

Remote Assistance Window

Let’s click on the “Invite someone you trust to help you”. There are three ways in which we can create invitation.

4 Creating Invitation

Creating Invitation Options

We can save an invitation to a file and then send it to someone, send it using compatible e-mail program (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.), or use Easy Connect.  Easy Connect works primarily with a LAN network. It basically uses a form of broadcast mechanism where another computer on that same LAN can detect the Easy Connect connection. As long as they have the password for the Remote Assistance, they can connect.

In our case, we will save the invitation as a file to our local C:\ drive.  We can call it anything we want.

5 invitation

Saving Invitation

After that, we will see a invitation password.

6 Invitation Password

Invitation Password

This password needs to be communicated with the person who will help us. Otherwise without this password they will not be able to connect.

Establishing a Connection

So, now we have sent this invitation that we have generated using web mail, and we have phoned the person who will help us and told him the password. The user who will help us can establish a connection to us in two way.  He can choose the “Help someone who has invited you” option from the Windows Remote Assistance window. When he chooses that option, he will see this options.

7 Connection Options

Connection Options

So, he can click the “Use an invitation file” and than browse for the invitation he got from the remote user, or he can try to use Easy Connect method. Another method is to simply double double-click the Remote Assistance invitation file. This will open up Remote Assistance and ask us for the password.

8 Enter Password

Password Prompt

When he enters the password, and clicks OK, he still won’t be able to connect until we, on the other end, allow him to connect.

9 Allow Connection

Allow Connection Prompt

Once we click Yes, the connection will be allowed, and the user who is helping us will be able to view our screen.

10 Viewing The Screen

Viewing The Screen

So, the default setting is view only, and helper cant really interact with the machine. We can open the Chat feature and chat with the remote user to give them directions.

11 Chat Button

Chat Button

The helper can also request control by clicking the “Request control” button.

12 Request Control Button

Request Control Button

We will receive a prompt asking us if we want to allow him to take control of our machine.

13 Remote Control

Allow Remote Control Prompt

Note that here we can also select to allow the helper to respond to User Account Control prompts as well. If we don’t select this, if any User Account Control prompts open up, the helper won’t be able to respond to them, but we at the actual computer will be able to respond to them. If we check this box, this will allow the session to connect with the User Account Control prompts and allow the helper to respond to them.

To close the session we can click on the “Stop sharing” button, or simply close the Remote Assistance window.

14 Stop Sharing

Stop Sharing Button

Have in mind, Remote Assistance requires both name resolution and TCP/IP connectivity.