Remote Assistance: How Quick Assist works in Windows


You are regularly on the road, but like to have access to your home computer at all times. Or you are the refuge of acquaintances with PC problems and want to be able to take over their computer remotely to get everything back on track. Did you know that Windows has built-in tools for remote assistance? Quick Assist and Remote Desktop help you out.

We start with a relatively simple scenario. Someone needs your help and you like to help them out of the doldrums, but if you can, without going out. Windows actually has everything for this as standard, including Windows Home. The necessary app, previously called ‘Remote Assistance’, now listens to the name Quick Assist. We’ll start on the side of the rescuer: in this scenario, that’s your own PC.

Open the Windows Start menu and launch the app Quick Assist. In the dialog box that opens, click Provide support on the button help someone else. Moments later, a six-digit security code will appear, valid for 10 minutes.

The intention is clear: you have to get this code to the person requesting help within this time frame. You should preferably do this in a relatively safe manner: by telephone, for example, or via a chat or e-mail message.

The built-in Quick Assist works on the basis of a shared code.

Quick Assist Session

The person requesting help must now also start the Quick Assist app in turn. He enters the received code at Assistant codeafter which he presses Share screen clicks. Two possible options will then appear on the rescuer’s screen: Full management and View screen. This last option ensures that you can view the screen of the requester, but he remains in control. If you choose the first option here, you can remotely take over and actually control the client’s PC.

As soon as you confirm your choice with Continue and the other party on Allow click, the connection is established and you can view the screen or operate the computer. In a toolbar you will find various tools, such as Select display (if multiple monitors are connected), Take notes (for simple annotations), Actual size and Switch instruction channel. The latter appears to be a simple chat channel.

There is also a button to restart the remote PC and it goes without saying that either party can disconnect at any time.

You can view or take over the screen, and chat in between.
Windows Quick Assist is only suitable for simple remote assistance

External desktop

Windows itself has another, more powerful, computer takeover feature, but unfortunately you won’t find it in Windows Home. It’s about Remote Desktop. Technically, this is nothing more than an application of the RDP (remote desktop) protocol that was developed by Microsoft specifically for Windows environments. More information can be found via https://kwikr.nl/externb.

If you have Windows Pro or higher, you can enable this function as follows (in Windows 11). We start on the side of the requester. Open Windows settings, go to Systemclick in the right panel on External desktop and press the button To confirm.

Admittedly, the RDP protocol isn’t exactly the most secure, but you can make it a little more secure by clicking the arrow button next to On click and make sure there is a check mark next to it Require devices to use network-level authentication to connect (recommended). This means that you must authenticate to the network with a Windows user account before you can access the PC remotely.

You can also click here Users with Remote Desktop access and you determine via To add which accounts may use it. Note that members of the Administrators group will have access in any case.

You must first enable the Remote Desktop function.

Internal client

On to the client side, that’s the PC that needs to connect to the remote desktop. We first assume that you want to do this from another PC in your own network, for example to operate a PC that is located in a somewhat awkward place.

You can set up such a connection directly from Windows, also with Windows Home as client. Press on the Windows key and type link in the search bar. Select Connect to Remote Desktop and enter the IP address or computer name of the target PC in the dialog box. You can find the latter via the shortcut key Windows key+Pause; You can read the (internal) IP address via Settings / Network & Internet / Ethernet or Wi-Fi / Bee IPv4 address.

Confirm with To connect and enter a valid Windows account – possibly via the option More choices / Use another account. If all goes well, you will immediately take control of the PC. Unfortunately, the latter cannot be operated locally and via the RDP client at the same time: you are automatically logged out as long as the connection is active.

When you click in the connection window Show options click, additional tabs with useful extras appear. For example, you can save the connection settings (in a .rdp file) for a quick reconnection, you can click on the tab Display set the image quality (the higher, the more bandwidth of course) and give the tab Local Resources whether the printer, clipboard, and certain drives of the client PC should also be available within the takeover session.

You can further optimize the Remote Desktop session via Show options.

External client

In principle, it is also possible to access the PC with Remote Desktop from outside, but such a connection is a bit tricky. If security is not your top priority, you can define a loop-through rule on your router to the RDP port (tcp/udp 3389) with the internal IP address of the PC. You do this in a router section like Port forwarding. on www.portforward.com/router.htm find instructions for various router models.

On the client side, in the connection window of Remote Desktop this time do not enter the internal IP address of the PC, but the external IP address of your router (network). You will find out this address when you surf within your network to, for example, www.whatismyip.com.

Unfortunately, there is a real chance that your external IP address is dynamically assigned by your provider, which means that you must have the current IP address for each session. A DDNS service (dynamic DNS) offers a way out. This links a fixed host name to the IP address, with a client tool passing any change to this address to the DDNS server. In the client module you only have to enter the host name and no longer the (changing) IP address. An example of such a free service is www.dynu.com.

It’s not the safest way, but it’s possible: daisy-chain the correct port(s) to the internal service.

Alternative port

As far as RDP is concerned, it becomes a bit more secure if you change the default port 3389 beforehand. This can be done via a registry change on the PC. Press Windows key+R and feed regedit from. Navigate to ComputerHKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESYSTEMCurrentControlSetControlTerminal ServerWinStationsRDP-Tcp. In the right panel, double click PortNumber and change 3389 (Decimal) in another free (higher) port number. You also need to pass this customization on client side: :.

If the connection does not work, there is undoubtedly a firewall in between and you have to create extra rules here for the new port. Press Windows key+R and feed wf.msc off, which will take you to the Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security window. In the section Incoming Connection Rules meet you External desktop some rules that are still tuned to default port 3389. So you have to create similar rules for the alternate port number yourself.

You can optionally change the default port number of Remote Desktop.
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