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Quick Assist

by Chris Taylor

At the March OPCUG Members’ Favourites evening, I talked about some options for remoting to another Windows desktop.

If your need is for remote assistance (as opposed to remote administration, where there is nobody at the console of the remote computer), and both you and the person you are assisting are running Windows 10, there is a new kid on the block: Quick Assist. This update to the Remote Assistance program which was included in previous versions of Windows is a little cleaner and easier to use. Quick Assist debuted with Windows 10, ver. 1607, (a.k.a. the Anniversary Update, released August 2nd)

Click the search box on the Taskbar and type in Quick Assist. When it appears at the top of the search results, click it. When it loads, click on Give Assistance. You will be prompted to log on with a Microsoft Account and you will be given a 6-digit security code. Give that code to the person you will be assisting.

They run Quick Assist and click on Get Assistance. They will be prompted to enter the security code. They do not need a Microsoft Account to receive assistance. As a final step, they are asked to give permission for you to connect. Once they click on Allow, you will see their screen. Your keystrokes and mouse movements are passed through to their computer as if you were there.

This is usually sufficient to sort out difficulties they may be having, especially if you are on the phone with them at the time and can talk them through what you are showing them.

The best thing about Quick Assist is probably its simplicity. The person you are helping doesn’t have to download or install anything. It is fast and easy for them to allow you to connect.

A really nice feature in Quick Assist is Annotations. You can draw on the other person’s screen, in a choice of six colours. For example, you could circle an area of interest or underline something important.

While the program is simple and works smoothly, there are a few things I found awkward with Quick Assist.

Screen scaling is limited to fitting the entire remote desktop to your screen or showing it scaled 1:1, in which case you get scroll bars on the window if the remote computer has a higher resolution than your screen. But all remote desktop options struggle with screen scaling.

If the person you are assisting has multiple monitors, all screen will be remoted to you. I would prefer an option to toggle between single screens or showing all.

Strangely, given Microsoft obsession with pen-enabled computers, I could not get the annotation feature to work on my Microsoft Surface Book with the pen. It works with the trackpad or a mouse, but nothing appeared when I drew with the pen. This is a shame because I can draw a lot smoother with a pen than a trackpad!

I don’t think I will be giving up TeamViewer. It has many advantages over Quick Assist: file transfer; chat & video chat; remote administration; is available for all versions of Windows from XP on; and there are versions for Linux, Android, Mac OS and iOS.

Quick Assist is fast and easy. I may use it when I know I won’t be needing the extra features of TeamViewer. Or, perhaps I will use Quick Assist if I need to help someone get TeamViewer installed!

Originally published: November, 2016

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Ottawa PC Users' Group or its members.