With the release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update in October, Microsoft quietly slipped in the new Quick Assist program that many people I spoke to did not know about. Quick Assist is a remote assistance tool that allows Windows 10 users to receive and give assistance by taking control of a remote computer.
Similar to Windows XP’s Remote Assistance, while a Quick Assist helper is taking over a computer, the recipient can watch all actions that are taking place on their computer. Quick Assist also supports the ability to connect and receive connections even if you are behind a NAT (Network Address Translation) device.
For those who commonly help their family and friends with computer problems, this built-in tool makes it much easier to assist them without having to go to their location or install a 3rd party application.
How does Quick Assist Work
To make it easier to understand who is who in the article below, I will be referring to those looking for assistance and who will have their computer taken over as the Host. The person giving assistance and who will be taking over control of the computer is called the Helper.
If you are running Windows 10 and the Fall Creators Update is installed, Quick Assist is already installed by default. To start the program, simply click on the Start Button and type Quick Assist into the search field.
When you start Quick Assist, you will be greeted by a prompt asking if you wish to Get assistance or Give assistance.
If you are the Helper you would click on Give assistance and be prompted to login to your Windows account. Once you login, you will be shown a code and how long its good for. This code is used by the person getting assistance, or Host, to make a connection back to you. For the Host, when you click Get assistance you will be prompted to enter a code given to you by the person helping you.
You can see screenshots of what each person would see below.
At this point, the Helper will give their code to the one who needs assistance. That person then enters this code in the Get assistance screen shown above. Once the code is submitted, the Host will be asked if they are sure they wish to share their screen.
When the Host clicks on the Allow button, the connection between the Helper and Host will be negotiated. It should be noted that when the remote user connects to the Helper’s computer, they will be provided Administrative access in order to perform administrator level commands.
Once connected, the Host will see a small box on their desktop indicating that their computer is being remotely controlled. From this screen, the Host can click on the || button to close the session.
The remote user providing the support will be shown the Host’s screen and will have various buttons that they can press to perform actions on the remote computer. It is important to note while Quick Assist is in operation, both the Helper and the Host can use the mouse and keyboard, so it is important to discuss before the session who will be taking control in order to avoid confusion.
While connected, the Helper has various tools that can be used by clicking on buttons at the top of the Quick Assist screen.
Select Monitor: This button allows you to switch to a different monitor on the Host’s PC in the event that they have multiple monitors.
Annotate: The annotate button allows the Helper to draw on the Host’s screen to provide more detailed instructions.
Fit Screen: Fit screen will cause the remote screen to fit the size of the Quick Assist window.
Restart: Pressing the Restart button will restart the Host computer. Once the computer has restarted, it will automatically initiate a connection back to the Helper’s computer.
Task Manager: This button will open the Task Manager on the Host computer.
Reconnect: In the event a Helper loses connection to the Host computer, they can click on the Reconnect button to connect to it again.
Pause: This will pause the screen sharing.
End: This button ends the screen sharing session.
For the best experience, it is important that both computers have a good connection to the Internet.
As you can see, Quick Assist makes it very easy to help remote users. While other programs, such as TeamViewer, have a more feature rich experience, having a built-in program like this makes it much easier to help those who may not have much experience with computers, downloading and installing programs, etc.
How to block Quick Assist
While this tool is definitely useful, some companies may feel it is a liability to allow someone to bypass their firewall and remotely connect to a computer on their network. Unfortunately, at this time there are no Group Policy settings for controlling the operation of Quick Assist. Instead, I have outlined two methods that you can use to block Quick Assist.
Remove Quick Assist from a Computer
One method that you can use to block Quick Assist is to simply remove it from a computer. This can be done through the Manage Optional Features settings screen as shown below.
Block Quick Assist using a Firewall
Probably the easiest and most effective way to block Quick Assist is to block it at an edge firewall.
When a Host enters the Helper’s code and presses Submit, Windows 10 will connect to the remoteassistance.support.services.microsoft.com in order to confirm the code and negotiate the connection.
By blocking this host, Quick Assist guests will never be able to connect to the remote helper.
For those who wish to block it on a computer level rather than network wide, as Quick Assist is an executable located at C:\Windows\System32\quickassist.exe, it is also possible to block the executable itself via the Windows Firewall or using AppLocker.