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Windows 10 Quick Assist – Troubleshoot a Friend’s PC Without Any Extra Software

Windows 10 Quick Assist – Troubleshoot a Friend’s PC Without Any Extra Software
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Ever needed to help a friend or family with their computer issues with remote access? Quick Assist is the way to go for Windows 10 users for remote assistance!

If you’re reading this, then there is a good chance that you’re looking at the same challenge I have every now and then; a friend or family member is having issue with their PC and if you can please help them … like right now! In that case (or when you live on a different continent) remote access is the way to go, unless you’re pretty close by.

In the past I used LogMeIn, it was probably the best tool I’ve every used for remote access, but unfortunately it’s no longer free or affordable.

For a while I’ve used TeamViewer, but in all honesty – I really dislike how the tool works even though it is free. The fact that both parties need to install software and those funny codes, weird screens, and sometimes confusing settings – well, it’s just not for me.

This weekend I had to assist my nephews, both of them using Windows 10. And again I was stuck with the same question: what tool to use?
Well not entirely … seems Windows 10 is equipped with everything we need and in this article I’ll show you how it’s done.




Overview

Windows 10 – use Quick Assist

A feature introduced with Windows 10 is called Quick Assist.

The purpose of Quick Assist is exactly what one would need to remotely help a friend of family member if both parties have Windows 10 of course. Dear Bill (I know in your world only Windows 10 seems to exist) can you please have that fixed so we can use this with other Windows versions as well, or dare I say; even from a Mac?

Microsoft Quick Assist is a Windows 10 app that enables two people to share a computer over a remote connection so that one person can help solve problems on the other person’s computer.

So Quick Assist was exactly what I was looking for, and best of all: no additional software or tools needed.
Having worked with RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) and Windows Remote Assistance before, I assumed Microsoft would have used that same technology for this purpose as well, just in a more secure manner and much easier to use. So my hopes were high and I can tell you; I have not been disappointed, and it preforms much better that the Chrome Remote Desktop!

Before you get started with Quick Assist …

Now before you get started, you’ll have to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Both parties will need to be running Windows 10 on their PC.
    You can consider that a bother of course, but I see no reason (unless you have really old hardware) to not run Windows 10.
  2. Quick Assist obviously uses a network/Internet connection.
    Sounds obvious, but when you’re assisting with network issues, you might kick out Quick Assist when changing the network drivers.
  3. Either party can terminate the connection at any time by closing Quick Assist!
    So whenever you’re done, or when the person helped wants to stop: close the Quick Assist application and you’re done.
  4. You’ll need something to communicate like a phone; The help provider receives a code which the help receiving party has to enter.
    Having some sorts of communication, like a phone or text messaging, is needed to exchange the code.
  5. The help providing party needs a Microsoft account.
    To be able to control another Windows 10 PC, the help provider needs to login to their Microsoft account.
  6. Both parties need to sit behind their computer to initiate the connection.
    So this is not an alternative to remotely control an unmanaged computer (unlike tools like RDP and LogMeIn).
  7. You cannot drag and drop files through Quick Connect.
    Some remote control tools allow you to drag files from your computer to the one you’re connected to. Quick Assist does not. You’ll need to use something like OneDrive or DropBox.
  8. Copy and Paste between computers is not (yet?) supported and there is no chat function.
    So copying text (ie. the link to the download you needed) from your computer and pasting into the other computer is not working.
    With my nephews I used Google Hangouts (part of Google Chrome) to exchange text between computers.
  9. You can not use Quick Assist to print remotely.
    Tools like LogMeIn, RDP and TeamViewer allow you to print from the controlled computer to your own computer. Not an option for Quick Assist.
  10. Quick Assist can survive a reboot – but not always – and the user still might need to log in manually.
    So when a computer needs to reboot, make sure someone at the other hand can reconnect you when the reconnect fails.
  11. Quick Assist allows full access …
    So if there is data on the computer of the “helpee“, of a sensitive nature, then the “helper” can see this! Please be aware!

 

For the impatient … the short version … 

Both computers need to run Windows 10, and both parties should be available at their computers to initiate the connection.

Start “Quick Assist” on both computers.
– The help provider clicks “Give assistance”, logs into their Microsoft account and gets a code.
– The person receiving help, clicks “Get assistance”, enters the code that the help offering party just got and clicks on the “Allow” button.

That’s all there is to it … easy right?

 

Starting Quick Assist

Now when both computers are running, both parties will need to start Quick Assist.

You can either type “quick assist” in the search box next to the start button (lower left corner of your screen) or find it in the Window Start menu (Start  Windows Accessories  Quick Assist) – whichever you prefer.

Quick Assist not available? 

In case you cannot find Quick Assist then you might need to update your Windows 10 to the latest version.

For more experienced user, you may be able to fix it (it should bring back accidentally removed options) in PowerShell (run as Administrator) with the following statement (in case you manually removed it at some time):
Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}

 

Start Quick Assist by typing

Start Quick Assist by typing

Start Quick Assist through the Start menu

Start Quick Assist through the Start menu

For both computers the Quick Assist window will popup.

Quick Assist

Quick Assist

Now this is the most complicated part … nah, I’m just kidding.

The person providing help (the helper) will have to click “Give assistance“.
The person receiving help (the helpee) needs to click “Get assistance“.
Pretty obvious right?

Quick Assist – Give Assistance

After clicking “Give Assistance“, you will be asked to login to your Microsoft account – unfortunate that this is needed, but I guess this contributes to security.

Quick Assist - Login to your Microsoft Account

Quick Assist – Login to your Microsoft Account

Once logged in, a security code appears that will be valid for 10 minutes – meaning;
The person that you’re trying to help has 10 minutes to enter this code otherwise it expires and you’ll have to get a new code (click “Cancel and start over” if needed).

So this is the point where a phone or text message helps:
Pass this code on to the person you’d like to help, as they will need it in their steps to activate a connection.

Once the user entered the code on their end your connection will be established (takes a few seconds).

Quick Assist - Get the Security Code

Quick Assist – Get the Security Code

Quick Assist – Get Assistance

The person that is receiving help from you, will have to click the “Get assistance” option, which opens a window that allows the user to enter the security code that was just generated on the other computer, passed on by a phone call or a text message or something like that.

Once the user clicks “Submit” and “Allow” the connection will be established – this will take a few seconds, depending on your Internet speed I assume.

The fact that your PC (helpee) is being controlled by another user can be seen by two things;

  • a yellow/orange border around your screen
  • a small Quick Assist top center of your screen.
Quick Assist - Enter Security Code

Quick Assist – Enter Security Code

Quick Assist asking for permission

Quick Assist asking for permission

Connect: What else can we do?

Quick Assist may look like a simply tiny application, but it has some neat features geared towards assisting others.

Quick Assist - Main Window (helper)

Quick Assist – Main Window (helper)

Buttons

In the window (on the computer of the person that provides help) you’ll see on the for right top, a button ““, which adds a short description below the buttons in the grey area.

Quick Assist Functions / Buttons
Button  Function
Select Monitor  This button allows you to switch monitors connected to the PC of the helpee, in case they have multiple monitors.
Annotate Allows you to switch to annotation mode, where you (the helper) can doodle on the screen of the helpee – convenient when trying to explain certain things.
Actual Size You can resize the window any way you like, this will set the resolution in your window to the same resoultion as the computer you’re accessing. If this exceeds what the window can handle, the window content becomes scrollable. Optionally you can have the window scale to fit the window.
Restart If needed, you can reboot the other computer – for example after a driver update. It is recommended to have the person you’re helping near their computer so they can login and/or reconnect in case reconnect fails.
Task Manager  This will bring up the taskmanager on the computer you’re controlling.
Reconnect If a connection gets lost (unintentional) then this button will help you get connected again.
Pause Both helper and helpee can pause the remote support by pressing this button. For as long as the session is paused, the remote computer cannot be controlled and the screen will not be visible to the helper.
End Pretty obvious what this button will do: it terminates the session. To (re)start a new session you will have to go through all steps again.

Restarting the other computer … 

The “remote reboot” (restart) option is designed to reboot the remote computer and immediately resume the Quick Assist session without any further input. This may not always work properly. Be prepared to talk the other person through signing back into their PC and re-initiating the Quick Assist session if there’s problem and this doesn’t happen automatically.

 

Annotations

Of all these functions, annotation is probably the most interesting; it allows you to draw in the other persons computer.

After clicking the “Annotate” button a menu bar appears allowing you to select colors or remove all drawings (last button next to the color selection).
On the far right you’ll see the ‘Exit” button which closes the annotation function.

I found this to work well, once you realize that you have to click the screen first (as the helper) and after that click and hold the left mouse button to draw. Drawing could be a little smoother and it would have been nice if Microsoft would have added the means to draw a circle, square or arrow more conveniently.

Quick Assist Annotate - Draw on the screen

Quick Assist Annotate – Draw on the screen

 

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Comments


There are 11 comments. You can read them below.
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  • Jan 11, 2018 - 8:05 AM - Mavis - Author: Comment Link

    Pretty cool, although sadly I’m sure this will be abused by tech support scammers.

    Reply

    Mavis

    • Jan 12, 2018 - 10:34 AM - hans - Author: Comment Link

      Well, at least there is a tiny hurdle; the scammer will have to login into their Microsoft account.
      But we all know that setting up such an account shouldn’t take too much effort. 

      Bottom line is to ONLY allow access by family or friends, and stay with your PC to make sure they don’t screw up things or snoop in your personal data. 

      Reply

      hans

  • Mar 3, 2018 - 3:54 AM - jacky - Author: Comment Link

    Nice post. Thanks very much. Hope to get more useful tips.

    Reply

    jacky

    • Mar 3, 2018 - 5:43 AM - hans - Author: Comment Link

      Hi Jacky!

      thank you very much for taking the time to post a thank-you – it’s very much appreciated!  

      Reply

      hans

  • Jun 13, 2018 - 9:43 AM - Chris - Author: Comment Link

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU so much for the PowerShell command.  While I didn’t loose or accidentally uninstall Quick assist, in Microsoft great testing and wisdom, I installed (I think the most recent Windows update to a higher version of Windows 10, My Quick assist stopped working.  I tried everything and your PowerShell command did the trick!

    Thanks again!

    Reply

    Chris

    • Jun 13, 2018 - 9:58 AM - hans - Author: Comment Link

      Hi Chris!

      That’s awesome! Glad to hear this was helpful to you! 
      At some point I had removed Quick Assist myself, so that’s how I noticed the issue hahah … 

      Reply

      hans

      • Jun 13, 2018 - 10:05 AM - Chris - Author: Comment Link

        Leave it to Microsoft!  I have read so many articles after the latest update to the latest version of windows 10 (Mostly the creators, I think April update).  so I’m hoping if any of you find that Quick assist is busted after Microsoft updates 2 things, make sure the Save encrypted pages to disk in IE is UNCHECKED and if that fails try using the PowerShell command posted above, don’t forget to run PowerShell as admin and may have to run the security command to allow scripts.  Worked for me so I’m hoping it might works for others to.   I’m guessing that Microsoft in their infinite wisdom Toasted the manifest or installs, (I did see a lot of red as in missing manifests) while running this.  But Hans thanks again!

        Reply

        Chris

      • Jun 13, 2018 - 10:07 AM - hans - Author: Comment Link

        Thanks Chris for the additional tips and suggestions. 
        Yeah … Microsoft doesn’t have the best track-record when it comes to things like, well … any of their products 

        Reply

        hans

        • Jun 13, 2018 - 10:10 AM - Chris - Author: Comment Link

          just as a side note….in my previous post I meant to say Windows 10.  Not Windows 10.  Don’t know how to edit my post.

          Thanks,

          Chris

          Reply

          Chris



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