how to help parents with their computer

You are young, you own a phone with no buttons on the front, an expensive laptop and some kind of tablet. You hang out on the internet all the time. And you obviously know how to code something. For you, fixing computers is as pleasurable as enjoying a cold drink on the beach… At least this is what your parents think about you.

Every time “the internet doesn’t work”, “the printer isn’t printing” or “the password isn’t working” your parents call you in agony hoping for you to fix everything that runs on electricity. Instantly. Why? Because you are sooo into technology and stuff

And it doesn’t matter if you are really far away or pretty busy doing something – you have to help them.

It’s actually easier than it might seem

Although most of the time your parents’ computer issues will be quite small and easy to fix, it gets annoying if all your relatives come to you with the smallest technical problems on a daily basis. Believe me, I’ve been there. Many times.

From my experience, “my internet doesn’t work” often means that the Chrome icon has vanished in thin air, and “it doesn’t download” means that your parents can’t seem to notice the small button somewhere in the browser to confirm the download.

If your family asks you for help with their computer, and you are unprepared, you will probably end up playing a modified version of the game Taboo with them (where people try to explain the word without actually saying it).

Typical phrases include: “OK, see the little circle with the Windows icon in the bottom-left corner?”, “What does the button say?”, “Have you plugged it in?” or “NONONO don’t close the window!”. As fun as it gets….

After countless hours of playing technical support for my family I have chosen a couple of techniques and apps I use to make all of this easier.

Tips & tricks for remote technical support

No matter if your parents are using Windows or Mac OS X (I really doubt they are using Linux, Ubuntu or Chrome OS), there are some great tools out there that will help you solve all your relatives’ issues they encounter with their computers.

If you don’t have time to prepare

First of all, don’t panic or stress out. The more stressed you become, the more stressful and time-consuming the fixing will get.

Let’s assume that the person who calls you doesn’t have Skype, TeamViewer or any other software installed that has a screen-sharing feature.

If Skype is installed and the person you are talking with knows how to use it at least a bit, ask him/her to share the screen by clicking on the “plus” button next to the camera icon and then on “Share Screen…” and follow the next steps.

Skype share screen

Step 1: Install TeamViewer to see their screen and control the computer

The first thing you need to do is to get control over your parents’ computer. The best and simplest tool is TeamViewer, which allows you to see the other person’s computer screen and control it, even from a mobile device.

First of all, download TeamViewer yourself by following this link and choosing “TeamViewer Full Version”. Follow the regular download and installation process and open TeamViewer. If you are on a mobile device install TeamViewer for Android or iOS. All the next steps are for your parents.

  1. Ask the person you are helping to open his/her browser and type in “teamviewer.com”
  2. As soon as the website opens, click “Download” on the upper-right side of the website.
  3. The website will automatically open the right page for either Windows or Mac.
  4. Scroll down until you see “For the instant customer: TeamViewer QuickSupport”.
  5. Click on the grey button saying “Download v.9….”
  6. If nothing seems to happen, ask if the browser needs to confirm the download either on the top or bottom of the window. If yes, click “Allow” or “Yes”.
  7. The downloaded file will usually end up in the “Downloads” folder if the download location hasn’t been changed. If asked where to download the file, the best option would be to choose “Desktop”.
  8. Now, finally, open the downloaded file

Almost there. This was the most complicated part of the whole process. Stay calm and don’t panic.

Step 2: Connect to your parents’ computer and get control access

Now that TeamViewer QuickSupport is open in the other side of the phone line, open TeamViewer on your computer, phone or tablet and do the following:

  1. Ask for the numbers next to “Your ID” – usually 9 digits.
  2. Enter your parents’ ID into your TeamViewer below “Partner ID”.
  3. Click “Connect to partner”.
  4. Ask for your parents’ password (below the ID) and enter it in the popped-up window on your computer.

And there you have it! Now you can control your parents’ computer from anywhere you need if you have internet and fix smaller issues pretty quickly.

If you HAVE time to prepare

Now that you know how to control a remote computer you can make sure that helping your parents with future computer problems will be as easy as possible for everybody.

Make support easier

What I did with every single one of my relatives is placing a shortcut to the full version of TeamViewer on the desktop and tell them to double-click (very important) the icon if they need my help.

Write down the credentials for your parents’ internet provider

In case your parents’ internet is really not working even after re-starting the router you might have a real problem on your hands which you won’t be able to solve remotely. To make sure you can ask for technical support from the internet provider write down the support hotline number and all credentials which might be asked during the phone call.

Educate your parents

A lot of times, computer problems are actually so small and easy to solve that even your parents can do it. For example, telling them how to close different kinds of pop-ups or how to unsubscribe a newsletter will save you a lot of time. Also, check out some other online collaboration tools like Dropbox and show your parents it works.

Try to remember what recurring problems your parents had over the last few months (like, for example, problems with watching YouTube videos) and try to explain how to fix them. Proper education and communication will make everything easier in the long run…. Until they buy an iPad or get Windows 8, and you have to explain they how everything works all over again.

If you feel that your parents really do want to learn more about technology and computers, consider buying them a voucher for a Computers 101 course as a birthday present. Your mom will be absolutely delighted!

Closing words

The key to successfully helping your relatives with their computers remotely is to remain calm at all times, no matter what happens. You have no option but to drop everything you are doing at the moment and help them out. So why not make the best of it?

What tips do you have for other people? What is the most ridiculous problem your parents ever had with their computer? Share your best story in the comments!

Daniel Bulygin
Daniel's passion is optimizing stuff, making it work better and faster. He likes tech, entrepreneurship and the outdoors. Online Marketer | Entrepreneur | Hard Worker | Smart Thinker | Techie