Join.me is free and easy to use for either online meetings or accessing a computer from another location. Here we'll show you step by step how to help a friend fix Windows problems using Join.me
Anyone with a modicum of computer knowledge can find themselves in the situation of being asked to fix computer problems being faced by a friend or relative.
It’s flattering of course, to think that people close to you give you credit for having more knowledge about something than they do, but potentially annoying that they're willing to ask you for help.
So you comply, and you fix the problem. Then they ask you again. And again. They might even tell others you are a computer whizz. Pretty soon you can find yourself being called on by all manner of people, because you quite clearly know stuff they don’t and you’re willing to assist.
Of course you’re happy to help, but the timing can be tricky. It may even be the case that it's simply too far to travel to help old Uncle Fred who lives 200 miles away. Attempting to fix the problem over the phone is feasible only if the person is able to carry out your instructions - it would be far easier if you could see their screen, and even better if you could control their computer.
Fortunately, you can. As long as Uncle Fred, or whoever needs your help, has their computer hooked up to the internet, you can use a screen sharing tool to use your own PC to literally take control of their computer as if you were sitting in front of it.
Of course, this remote access works only if the problem isn't preventing Windows from starting, but this still includes plenty of scope to fix issues as well as preventing problems by ensuring everything is up to date, from antivirus to drivers and Windows itself. You could even download new software and install it, in fact you can do anything that you'd be able to do if you were physically there, except perhaps clean the dust out of the keyboard.
Here, we'll show you how to use the free Join.me service to fix 'Uncle Fred's' troublesome PC. Join.me is owned by LogMeIn, which has long been in the remote access game. The tool is also ideal for online meetings, where multiple participants can view, say, a presentation on one person's screen.
Using a simple code, it's supremely easy to gain access to another person's computer (with their permission, of course) and there's no configuration - or IP addresses - required, and all the software you need is downloaded automatically when you click the 'share' or 'join' buttons on Join.me's website.
How to control a PC remotely with Join.me
1. Get Uncle Fred to check he is online, and then ask him to browse to http://join.me. Do the same yourself. Uncle Fred needs to look at the left side of the screen, where it says ‘Share’, and click the button marked 'Basic' to use the free version of the join.me service. Tell him to then click the orange arrow to start the sharing process.
2. A 5MB file will be downloaded, and you'll need to direct Uncle Fred to locate and run it. It should be saved into his downloads folder (or be visible on the bottom bar if he's using Google Chrome). It might be helpful to copy the file (or create a shortcut) on the Desktop so he can run it easily next time he needs it. The applet delivers a nine digit login code.
3. Get Fred to read this nine digit code out to you. Enter it into the green 'join' section on the Join.me website in your own web browser. You don’t have to enter the hyphens – these are inserted automatically. Now click the green arrow on the Join side of the screen to start the connection process.
4. Now a new web browser window opens on your own computer. It shows Fred’s desktop surrounded by a greyed out section. There is a green themed control bar at the top of the screen. You need to ‘request control’ by clicking the mouse icon at the right-hand end of the toolbar. Fred will see the request ‘can Viewer 1 have control’ and should click ‘yes’.
5. Fred can now sit back and watch as the cursor moves around on his screen as you move it on yours. You can run programs, open web pages, alter settings and use the keyboard to type things into Fred’s computer. Fred can also control the computer at the same time so ask him to restrain himself until you're finished.
6. The control panel lets you send each other instant messages via the speech bubble icon – though you may not need this if you are on the phone to Fred while you have control of his computer. You can also use the zoom tool to get a closer look at what you are doing. When you’re finished, click the mouse again to end control.
Next page: Join.me on the iPad
Join.me on the iPad
There's a version of join.me for the iPad but it isn’t quite the same thing as the version you can use to fix Uncle Fred’s computer.
You can use the free iPad version of join.me to participate in multi-screen meetings from the iPad. You will need to be invited to join a meeting by the ‘host’ just as Fred invited you to join his PC. You can then see what is being shown on the ‘host’ computer. But, as you might imagine, you don’t have remote control of this computer.
Join.me has a paid-for 'pro' version, and if you are a subscriber you can also deliver information from your iPad to others who participate in a join.me session. This is most likely to be useful in a work scenario where you want to share information such as presentations with people who aren’t near you. If you work from home, or happen to be away from your main office, or need to share information with colleagues who are away from base for some reason, this could be invaluable.
You can also use join.me on an iPhone or an iPod touch in the same way. You can’t use the facilities through a general web browser, though – you’ll need to go into the app store and download the free join.me app.
If you want an iPad app which gives you remote control over a Windows PC, try Splashtop 2 - Remote Desktop. The connection is surprisingly fast - good enough even to play games, complete with sound. However, you'll benefit from using a Bluetooth keyboard if you don't want to obscure most of the iPad's screen with the on-screen keyboard.