GWKB2014 : Window-Eyes Remote Assistance

Product: Window-Eyes
Author: Jeremy Curry
Date Added: 04/06/2012
Last Modified: 04/06/2012

Have there been times that you have needed to help friends or family members with something on their computer, but you have had to try to talk them through it only to find out that you needed to travel to their home or office to fix their computer in person?  Have you tried training someone over the phone, but you really needed to be in the same room with them?  If these are the types of issues that you have struggled with, the Window-Eyes remote assistance tool is here to help!

First, what is remote assistance?  Remote assistance enables you to access another person's computer from anywhere as long as your computer and the other person's computer have a high-speed Internet connection.  Once you access the other computer, your computer and the person you are helping will both hear and see the exact same information.  It is as if you are sitting in front of the exact same computer although you are in two different locations.  

What are the requirements to make Window-Eyes remote assistance work?

1.    The Window-Eyes remote assistance tool requires Window-Eyes running on both computers.
2.    Both computers must be using Window-Eyes version 7.5.2 or higher.  GW Micro always recommends you use the latest version of Window-Eyes.
3.    Both computers must have a high-speed Internet connection.

When connecting to another computer with Window-Eyes remote assistance, there are two parties involved:

1.    The person asking for help.
2.    The person who is offering help.

The person who is asking for help is using the computer that you will both be able to interact with once you have established the Window-Eyes remote assistance connection.  Thus, the person offering help will be remotely accessing the person's computer who is asking for help.

Remote assistance does not enable you to talk directly with the person who is asking for help.  If you are training a client or if the person offering help needs to provide you with special steps, you will need to use the telephone in conjunction with using remote assistance.  You may also choose to use a program such as GWConnect, which can be downloaded at http://www.gwmicro.com/apps/gwconnect. GWConnect is a software program that makes Skype™ accessible and enables you to talk to others via audio or text chat.  Using one of these methods will allow you to communicate with the person who is asking for help while using remote assistance.  

Please note that the remote assistance tool passes video, mouse commands, keyboard commands, as well as Window-Eyes speech between the computers.  You will not hear Windows sounds, which enables you to use GWConnect for communication without worrying about echoing or feedback that would have been caused by audio looping.

Asking for Help

When you need help from someone else, you will need to provide the person who is offering help a password.  Window-Eyes provides you with this password.  Here are the steps you need to follow to ask for help and generate the password:

1.    Press Control-Backslash to open the Window-Eyes Control Panel.
2.    Press Alt-H to open the Help menu.
3.    Down Arrow until you hear Remote Assistance.
4.    Press Enter.
5.    Press Enter on Ask for Help.

A dialog will appear with the following controls:

1.    Send Help Request button
2.    Alternate Help Request button
3.    Local Network checkbox
4.    Cancel button

If you are in the same building, you are very likely on the same local network. If this is the case, make sure to navigate to the Local Network checkbox and check it by pressing Space before activating any of the buttons.  If the person asking for help and the person offering help are in two different locations, then you will typically not need to check the Local Network checkbox.

After you have determined if you need to check or uncheck the Local Network checkbox, Tab until you are on the Send Help Request button and press Enter.

A dialog will appear with a password.  You will need to provide this unique password to the person who is offering help.

Offer Help

To offer help to someone who is asking for help, perform the following steps:

1.    Press Control-Backslash to open the Window-Eyes Control Panel.
2.    Press Alt-H to open the Help menu.
3.    Down Arrow until you hear Remote Assistance.
4.    Press Enter.
5.    Down Arrow to Offer Help.
6.    Press Enter.

A dialog will appear asking for your name and a password.  You should type in your name and then Tab to the Password edit box.  The person who is asking for help will provide you with the password and can do so over the phone, instant messenger, voice chat, or another preferred method.  After you type in the password, press Enter. The person asking for help will be prompted to allow the person offering help to control their computer.  Once the person asking for help allows you to control their computer, you will be connected to their computer.

Once a successful connection is made, the remote assistance session will expand to full screen.  The video from the computer asking for help will visually display on the computer offering help.  All keystrokes and mouse input from the person offering help will be sent to the computer being used by the person asking for help.

You will also see a Window-Eyes Remote Assistance dialog appear.  Within the dialog is a Disconnect button. Either party can activate the Disconnect button at any time to end the session.  

Control-Alt-Break will take the remote assistance session out of full screen mode.  While the connection is still active in this case, the person offering help will be able to access their computer by pressing Alt-Tab to get to other programs.  Control-Alt-Break can be used to toggle back to full screen mode as long as the Window-Eyes remote assistance window is focused.  If the session is not in full screen mode, the person offering help may press Alt-F4 to close the window, which will also end the session.

Alternate Help Request

If you are unable to connect via the standard Send Help Request button, you may get a dialog indicating a connection error.  In this case, you may opt to use the Alternate Help Request button.  With the Send Help Request button, the connection flow is from the person offering help toward the person asking for help.  However, router configuration or other network issues may disallow this connection.  The person asking for help may not have the expertise to solve these issues, which is why the Alternate Help Request button is so valuable.  A person asking for help may activate the Alternate Help Request button if a successful connection cannot be made via the Send Help Request button.  When the Alternate Help Request button is pressed, the connection flow is from the person asking for help toward the person offering help.  This puts the responsibility of router configuration (and any other network issues) on the person offering help enabling the person asking for help to have remote assistance without any additional configuration on their end thus creating a seamless user experience.

Notes About Firewalls

If you are using a firewall, including Windows firewall, you may be prompted to allow the connection at various points during the process.  Make sure to allow the connection through your firewall or the connection may be blocked.  If the connection is blocked, two computers will not be able to successfully connect to one another.

Notes About Routers

If you have a router, you will need to port forward TCP connections on ports 46825, 46826, and 46827 to the IP address of the computer being used to conduct the Window-Eyes remote assistance session.  If you are asking for help and are unable to do this, use the Alternate Help Request button, which will put responsibility for router configuration on the person offering help.

Other Notes

GW Micro creates the connection between the two computers, which is why a password is required, but then GW Micro is no longer involved in the connection after it has been established.  At this point, the connection is strictly between the two computers, which helps to ensure a secure environment as well as the most efficient connection.

If the person you have asked for help does not use the password within an hour, you will need to generate a new password by following the steps listed above in the asking for help section of this article.

Whenever the computer receiving help speaks, both computers will speak using identical voice settings.  These voice settings are derived from the computer of the person who asked for help. Although voice settings change, synthesizers will not. So, if one user prefers DecTalk Access32 and the other prefers Eloquence, they will still hear speech in their preferred synthesizer.