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How to troubleshoot tech problems remotely

Every family, workspace, and even friend group has that one person officially anointed by a higher tech power as “The IT Master.” If you’re familiar with diving behind your parent’s couch to get their WiFi working or spending endless hours trying to de-infect a virus-ridden laptop at work, we’re sorry to break the news… it’s probably you.

As you begrudgingly prepare for the next time someone asks for your “techxpertise,” know there are certain apps and platforms that allow you to help from a distance by viewing, or even controlling, other devices over the internet. So whether it’s your parents’ aging laptop or your partner’s smartphone, these programs are a good way to save yourself some time and more than a couple of headaches.

First, download the program from the Chrome Remote Desktop page on the web to install the necessary software on the machine you’re currently using. Once that’s done, click Turn On to enable access: just give the computer a name and enter a PIN code for extra security.

The next time the person you’re helping out needs a hand, they’ll have to go to the Chrome Remote Desktop page and click Remote Support, Get Support, and then Generate Code. They’ll see an access code on their screen, which they’ll have to give to you (over the phone or in a text message). On your end, you’ll have to type the code into the empty field under Connect to another computer to gain access.

Once the link is established, you’ll be able to see the other person’s desktop through your web browser and use your mouse and keyboard on the other computer as if it were your own. The connection will last only until either you or the person on the other end breaks it. If you’re not on a computer, you can also connect from your Android phone or iPhone.

As with Chrome Remote Desktop, you’ll need to enter those two pieces of information into TeamViewer on your computer to establish the connection. Type the ID number in the Partner ID box, click Connect, then enter the password to open the other person’s desktop and gain control over it. You can also open a chat or video call window via the Communicate button on the toolbar if the person you’re helping needs to give further instructions or details.

TeamViewer also has apps for Android and iOS, and you can use them to remotely connect to another laptop or desktop computer from a mobile device, though everything is harder to see on a smaller screen.

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