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Microsoft's Windows 10 Anniversary Update Quick Assist feature allows you to view and control a remote PC

Anyone who works in the computer industry, or has a reputation for being technologically savvy. Windows 10's lets you fix family computer from your desk,  a new feature hidden deep within Windows 10’s Anniversary Update should be welcome news. It’s called Quick Assist.

For years, Microsoft added a feature called Remote Desktop to the Professional versions of Windows, and you could use either it, or a number of other third-party apps, to remotely control your PC. (Remote Desktop Connection is still part of Windows 10 Professional.) Windows Remote Assistance, which is what Quick Assist is based upon, has also appeared in previous versions of Windows.

With Quick Assist, you’re not controlling your own PC from afar, but asking permission from another person to control their PC (or vice versa), and with the understanding that either party can disconnect the connection at any time. It can’t solve any hardware problems, like a mouse that’s out of batteries; however, it does allow a remote user to check if the mouse’s Bluetooth settings are properly configured and the drivers are up to date.

Basically, Quick Assist lets you use your mouse and keyboard to remotely control a friend’s PC, doing everything that you could otherwise do on your own machine.

You can quickly launch Quick Assist by typing the app’s name in the Cortana search box, or by scrolling to Apps > Windows Accessories. (When my father bought his new PC, I simply pinned the app to his Start menu where it would be easy to find.)

From there, Quick Assist makes it simple. Launching the app presents you with one of two choices: give assistance or get it.

It’s important to note that Quick Assist requires two people to initiate the connection; you won’t be able to remotely tweak your aunt’s PC while she’s out jogging. If you choose to give assistance, you’re first asked to log in with your Microsoft account. 

You’re then provided with a six-digit security PIN code that you must provide to the person you’re assisting within 10 minutes. (Both parties must enter the same code.)

Again, Microsoft bends over backwards to help you, offering to email the PIN to your friend or family member, or save it to your clipboard to paste into a chat app.

Let’s assume you’re the one giving assistance. Once Quick Assist is active, you’ll see a window displaying the other person’s desktop, which is surrounded by a border containing several icons. You’ll need to click inside that window to allow your cursor to take control of the other PC.

Keep in mind, though, that Quick Assist opens the front door to your digital world. If you’re asking for help, remember that anything on your desktop or in your folders—be it.

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