How do I give/get tech help with Zoom videoconferencing?

2020-05-19 16:43

Videoconferencing tools usually provide a way for two or more people to talk and possibly see each other online like you might do for a remote meeting. Examples of these products are GotoMeeting, Webex, Skype, BlueJeans, and Zoom. Some of these products also allow users to share their screens and even take control of the other person’s computer (with permission.) This column explains how to use Zoom to view another person’s screen and help them by controlling their computer. This might sound like a tool for hackers, but it’s actually a great tool to provide or get tech support.    

Imagine that someone in a remote location has a computer problem and you are their friend who always helps. (Or imagine the opposite!) It can be difficult to tell someone what to do over the phone when you can’t see their screen. You may tell them to click on a specific icon, but they swear that there is no such icon. The free version of Zoom can help.                

To use Zoom, first sign up. Go to At the upper right, click the “Sign up; it’s free” button. Enter your (work) email address. I’ve found that any email address can work. In your email, open the message that says “Please activate your Zoom account.” Click the Activate Account button.  You will be prompted to create a password, then click the Continue button. When prompted to invite friends, skip that step; it isn’t necessary. This completes the sign-up process. You will be prompted to Start Meeting Now, or close out until later.                

When you need to provide support or have an on-line meeting with someone, go to, login, and hover over the Host a Meeting item at the upper right. Select either With Video or Without Video, depending if you want for the other person to see you through your computer camera. The Screen Share only option is appropriate when using a real phone to talk to the other person. Click the Open Zoom Meetings button. In the pop-up, click the Join with Computer Audio button. That will show you a screen with all of the info about your “meeting” including a URL (web address) for it. Click the “Copy URL” link. Then Paste that URL into an email or a chat to the person you want to help. When they click the link, they will join your meeting and be able to hear you and talk with you. They do not need to sign up for a Zoom account or download anything.                

While helping the other person, they can share their screen with you by clicking the “Share Screen” icon at the bottom of their Zoom window. The sharing options they see depend on what programs are active. Clicking Desktop is easiest. Seeing their screen may be enough to be able to help them, but if not, you can click View Options at the top of your screen, then click Request Remote Control. They will need to grant you permission, and then you can move your mouse around and click things on their screen. The only thing I’ve found you can’t do is type into their screen.                

When finished with your remote session, click the red End Meeting link at the lower right corner of your screen. There are many other features in Zoom, including recording and sharing your own screen.

Tags: videoconferencing, Zoom
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