Support for family and friends - how to get it right

Chances are high tech support isn't your 9-5 job, but nevertheless you somehow seem to have become the defacto standard for family and friends when they need help with their tech. Here are a few tips to make your life easier.

Remote support means you get to stay at home

Use Teamviewer host to get access to their computer when you're not around - it's the best remote support app around. That way you can see what they're doing when they call up saying X isn't working.

Ensure everything is super easy to do. Ideally all one click away. E.g. desktop shortcuts, stuff pinned to taskbar, in quick shortcuts etc.

Slowwww down

Slow right down when explaining stuff to them. Explain any jargon you use. Ensure they understand each step fully before moving on. This may mean 1hr only gets you as far as opening their GMAIL, so be it.


Remove unnecessary stuff - programs they won't use. Unneeded desktop shortcuts. Clean up favourites.

There's always many ways to do something, but I'd recommend just finding the simplest option and only showing them that way. And by simplest I mean simplest for them not you.

Explain the jargon

Do explain some basic jargon as it will help them understand the computer. Terms like email, file explorer, Web browser, hard drive, Google search, username. Just the real basics, obviously steer clear of anything more technical like IP address, IMAP, DNS (I know they make use of that stuff every time they get online, but they have no need to understand it). There are plenty of online resources they can use to get familiar. Maybe start with the old faithful Wikipedia.

Take notes

Get them to take notes. They may be able to do what you showed them in the moment, but tomorrow chances are they'll have forgotten. Notes written by them with your prompting to ensure no step is missed and the notes make sense will be extremely useful for them when you're not around.

Have patience

Have plenty of patience. When they ask you for the seventh time how to open their email, it's not because they want to annoy you. They genuinely don't remember. When you have an extremely limited knowledge of the subject matter it's very hard to retain information about it. Just try remembering a word in a foreign language you don't know.

Hope that helps!

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