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Requesting Remote Assistance (RA) with Windows Messenger (Messenger)

This method is a simple way of requesting remote assistance from another user. It MAY NOT WORK if you have a router or other network devices (hardware or software) between you and the Internet - that is why there is a guide for RA by e-mail at Assistance by e-mail & online. IF this doesn't work and you already use the (free) Hamachi product (see Setting up a network of experts) to create your own private and secure network over the Internet then it is worth trying one other simple approach - see Assistance by NetMeeting for details.

If you have checked that your PC is ready and able to initiate Remote Assistance requests (see Remote Assistance checklist) then simply work through the steps below. Each of the screen shots can be 'blown up in size' by hovering over them. This is to help those users who have a high resolution screen but not the eyesight to match! - let me know if it doesn't work for you!

Firstly you should click on the normal Windows Start button (or just press the 'Windows Logo Key' to the bottom left of your keyboard) and then click on 'Windows Messenger' if it is listed on the left - see the fourth item on the left hand list to the left as an example of the Icon and wording.

If it isn't in the left hand list then click on 'All Programs' (bottom left) and then look for 'Windows Messenger' in that list. It MAY be in a subfolder, possibly under the 'Accessories' folder in 'Communications'. If that fails, see below:

IGNORE this step if you have found and started Messenger

If you CANNOT FIND MESSENGER then it is easy to rectify the situation by clicking on the 'Run' button which is usually very near the bottom of the right hand column of options in the IMAGE ABOVE - i.e. the Start menu.

You will then get a pop-up asking you what to Run and you need to type "MSMSGS" - that MS MS GS without the quotes or spaces, then click on OK.

You will then see your copy of messenger and if we have already established an RA session before then you will probably have 'Brian R' as a user in one of the lists - Online or Not Online.

If Brian R is NOT ONLINE then you needed to agree with me a time at which I would be available to help. You can try to make contact on an ad-hoc basis now but that is not a service that I promote or even recommend as it could lead to frustration if I am not available to accept your request.

Click on Actions and then 'Ask for Remote Assistance'.

Note that at several times during these screens you MAY be interrupted by your Firewall or other defence mechanisms that want to check that you really do know what you are doing!

Click on the person from whom you are requesting assistance. Note that this facility is widely available and other people MAY be able to help but bear in mind that they may never have used the tools before and may not have any clue about how to use them effectively.

When you have selected someone and clicked OK you will start a conversation with that person over the Web. It is possible to key text into the box at the bottom for the other person to see - press enter or click 'Send' to send the message.

You SHOULD get a message quite quickly to say that the recipient (e.g. Brian R) has accepted your invitation. If this doesn't happen within 10 seconds then the person MAY not have received the request - type a message and click Send to ask if a request has been received. You MAY need to cancel the first request and then click on Actions to make another request.

You then get another pop-up asking about the recipient viewing your screen

Obviously you need to click on Yes for RA to be of any use to you.

After 10-20 seconds (that IS a long time!) you SHOULD get a pop-up looking like the one to the left indicating that the recipient CAN NOW SEE YOUR SCREEN as you have allowed.

Note that the ESC key (usually to the top left of a keyboard) can be used at any time to stop CONTROL - it will not be operational while the RA session is just in 'View' mode.

When your request is concerned with lack of knowledge or understanding and you want to be able to handle similar future occurences of what is needed without asking for assistance then we strongly recommend that YOU RETAIN CONTROL and that the person assisting should be in view-mode only.

Learning by RA is a very, very effective way of building your knowledge and skill of using PCs because the learning situation is absolutely ideal in that:

  • You have a strong and immediate desire to achieve something useful to YOU
  • You can get an expert to help on your own PC in a timely and very cost-effective manner

When you are requesting assistance to fix a problem then it may be appropriate for the recipient to take control of your PC for a while. bear in mind that you CAN ALWAYS TERMINATE such a session at ANY TIME by pressing the ESC key (top left).

Obviously you need to trust the person in many respects before you allow them to takeover your PC, not least of which is the trust in their competence and ability to recover from any problems they may cause.


I hope the information above has been useful, let me know if not! Any Comments, suggestions or corrections to: Contact us please. This would be especially useful if the software environment you have is different to mine and the headings, text or prompts are different.


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