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GETTING STARTED


Introduction:

I.T. Pros use Instant Housecall to view and control PCs and Macs and provide remote technical support.  You can work from any computer at any location:  your office, home and when you’re on the road.


Customer and Specialist

There are two people (or computers) involved in every remote support session.


The person whose computer is being controlled is called a “Customer”


The person who is providing remote support is called a “Specialist”


Your Support App, Specialist Sign-in, and support portal


There are two key pieces of software you and your customer will use:


  • Support app, used by your customer

    • Your customer downloads the support app to connect to you

    • There are two versions of the support app available, Standard and Safe.  Details here

  • Specialist Sign-in, used by technicians

    • Desktop (Win32)

    • Windows Store app (Windows 8.1 and higher)

    • Technicians sign in as a Specialist when they’re available, and sign out when they are not.


When you create your account using the Specialist Sign-in, you will choose a “Support Portal” (yourCompany.instanthousecall.com).  Your support portal is where your customers go to download the support app.  


Quick-start

  1. Download the Specialist Sign-in, create an account if you do not already have one

  2. Sign-in as a Specialist

  3. Tell your customer to go to your support portal

  4. Ask your customer to click Download, Run, Start Session


You will be instantly connected, and you can view and control the remote computer.  


To end your session:

Once you’re done working, end your session and disconnect from your Customer’s computer.  To end a session:


Desktop

Windows Store App

From the drop down menu at the top of the Specialist window

  • Click File, Exit Session

Right click the bezel (black frame) or swipe up to show the command bar, then,

  • Click End Session


Specialists - Signing in to accept calls


To start a remote support session, sign-in as a Specialist.  


To sign-in:


Desktop

Windows Store app

  • Click Start, Programs, Instant Housecall

  • Choose Specialist Sign-in

  • Type the e-mail address and password you chose when you signed up

  • From your Start Screen or All Apps, choose “Instant Housecall”

  • Type the e-mail address and password you chose when you signed up



Once signed in, you’re ready to accept calls.  



Desktop

Windows Store app

  • An icon will be added to your system tray

  • Right click the system tray icon for options

  • You will be presented with the Hub screen


Customers - Launching the Support App


Your Customer can download the support app from your support portal (yourCompany.instanthousecall.com).  It can also be downloaded directly from your website via a direct download link.


New Customer

If your Customer has never used Instant Housecall before, they will need to download the support app.  


Repeat Customer

If your Customer has used Instant Housecall before, and you left it installed, there will be an icon on their desktop and an entry in Start > Programs > Instant Housecall to let them connect to you easily


Unattended Customer

If your Customer’s computer already has Instant Housecall installed and it is in unattended mode, he or she can launch the support app by right-clicking the system tray icon and choosing “Open Instant Housecall”.  


4 Types of Remote support

Instant Housecall lets you perform four different types of remote support:  on-demand, unattended, time-window, and remote hardware repair.


On-Demand Remote Support

Typically used for break/fix.


Use on-demand remote support when your customer needs help right away.  On-demand sessions are temporary connections to your customer’s computer, initiated by the customer.


When your customer runs the support app, they’ll see a Start Session screen.


You’ll receive an incoming call, and once you accept that call, you can view and control their computer.


After you finish an on-demand session, you can’t access your customer’s computer until they click start session again.


Unattended Remote Access

Typically used for managed services (MSP).


Use unattended remote access when you want to access an unattended server or workstation.  Unattended access lets you control your Customer’s PC on your schedule, as often as you wish.


You’ll need one-time permission from your customer to use unattended access.


Ask your customer to run the support app.  Your customer can then give you permission in one of two ways:

  1. Before a session:  On the Start Session screen, ask your customer to click the “Allow unattended access” checkbox

  2. During a session:  Specialists can “Request unattended access” from the Specialist Sign-in via the drop down menus (Win32) or the command bar (Windows Store app)


Unattended computers appear in a list in the Specialist Sign-in.  


Time Window

You need to be signed-out to use this feature.


Use time window when your customer needs help, but you’re not available to help them immediately.


When you are signed out and your Customer clicks Start Session, they’ll be asked if they want to wait for you to sign in.


Your Customer can open a 12 hour time window (720 minutes), during which you can connect, and the computer can be left unattended.  Time window connections, like on-demand, are temporary sessions, and allow you to connect to Customer computers when you can’t schedule an appointment to be there immediately.




Remote hardware repair (“On-Sight”)

You can help troubleshoot remote hardware issues using the On-Sight app.  On-Sight is perfect when your customer is having internet connectivity issues.


Ask your customer to download On-Sight from the app store, or from your support portal.  Once they connect to you, they can point their phone’s camera and you can see what they see.




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Starting an on-demand session

On-demand sessions are temporary and initiated by your customer.


Once your Customer launches the support app, they can start an on-demand session by clicking “Start Session”.  


The Specialist’s PC will show an incoming call.  You can accept or decline your customer’s remote support request.


During an on-demand session, you can reboot your customer’s PC as often as you wish and it will automatically reconnect.  Once an on-demand session is closed, you can’t re-access your customer’s computer again without permission.


Choosing a different Specialist:

If the Specialist shown to your Customer is not the person to whom they wish to connect, your Customer can choose a different Specialist by clicking on the Specialist’s name in the drop down menu on the Start Session screen.  If you have more than one Specialist, all of their names will appear here.


Alternatively, your Customer can click the Options tab.  Type the e-mail address of a different Specialist, then click Choose.  See also Auto-Route Customer to Specific Technician


Start an unattended access session

Unattended access sessions are initiated by the Specialist.


You can access your customer’s PC any time and as often as you wish with unattended remote access.  


To access your customer’s computer, your Customer must first give you one-time permission., then you can choose a computer from your unattended access list.  


To see a list of PCs that have granted you unattended access permission:



Desktop

Windows Store

  • Right-click the system tray icon

  • Choose “Unattended access”

  • Choose a computer and click Start Unattended Access

  • Your unattended access list appears on the Hub Screen of the app

  • Choose a computer

  • Click Start Session from the command bar



Getting unattended access permission

Ask your customer to launch the support app.  Your customer can give you permission in one of two ways:

  1. Before a session:  On the Start Session screen, ask your customer to click the “Allow unattended access” checkbox

  2. During a session:  Specialist can “Request unattended access” from the Specialist Sign-in via the drop down menus (Win32) or the command bar (Windows Store app)


As long as you have permission, you can access your customer’s unattended PC as often as you wish, any time.


Permission does not expire unless your Customer revokes it, or the Specialist explicitly deletes it.


During a session


Once you have connected to a remote computer you can move the mouse and type on the keyboard in the usual way.


Accessing Features


Instant Housecall provides features that you can access via the drop down menu (Desktop) or via the command bar and on the bezel (Windows Store App).



Desktop

Windows Store app

  • Features are available from the drop down menus at the top of the Specialist’s window

  • Open the command bar: right-click on the bezel (black frame)

  • Features are available on the bottom command bar, navigation on the top


Transfer files

If you need to transfer files between systems, you can transfer files from Customer > Specialist or from Specialist > Customer


Customer > Specialist

To transfer a file from your Customer’s PC to yours, find the file on the remote PC using Windows Explorer.


Right-click the file you want to transfer.  In the context menu, choose Instant Housecall > Transfer file.


Specialist > Customer


To transfer a file from your computer to your Customer’s PC:


Desktop

Windows Store app

  • Drag and drop:  From Windows Explorer, drag the file onto the Customer’s remote support window

  • Context menu:  From Windows Explorer, right click the file and choose Instant Housecall > Transfer file

  • Open the command bar: right-click on the bezel (black frame)

  • Choose File transfer


Note:  The Windows Store app can only transfer files from non-sandboxed user directories. You cannot use the file picker to navigate to C:\Windows, for example.

Once you choose files to transfer, a Save As dialog box will appear on your Customer’s computer.  Choose the target location.


Note:  From time to time, the Save As dialog box on the remote PC may appear beneath other windows on the target PC.  If you do not see the dialog, minimize windows one-by-one.


Chat

You can chat with your customer any time during a remote support session.  Chats are saved in the Session History automatically and added to the public notes in Session History.


To start chatting session during a session


Desktop

Windows Store app

  • Click File > Chat

  • Click the icon at the top-center of the bezel to open the “drop bar”

  • Choose Chat from the drop down menu on the left


Notes and Session History

There are two types of notes:  Public and private.


Public notes are related to the session you are conducting.  They are visible to you, your customer, and other Specialists who may connect to your Customer’s PC in the future.


You can add a “summary” or “tag” to each session.  This summary will be visible in the session history to show you work completed at-a-glance.


Private notes are only visible to Specialists.  Customers cannot see private notes, and they are visible in the Customer notes area across multiple sessions.


To view or add public notes:

Desktop

Windows Store app

  • Click File > Notes, Profile, and history

  • Open the command bar by right-clicking on the bezel

  • Click details


Any notes that you type here will be visible to your customer, and automatically sent to them in session confirmations.


Once open, you can view private notes:


Desktop

Windows Store app

  • Click the “Customer” tab

  • Click the orange “Notes” button


To view session history:


Desktop

Windows Store app

  • Press the “History” button at the bottom of the window

  • Choose a history tile in the Details fly-out


End Session

Ending a session disconnects you from your Customer’s computer.  Unless unattended access is configured, you cannot access your customer’s computer again until they invite you.  With unattended access, you can re-access your customer’s PC again after the session is ended by choosing them from the unattended access list.


When you end a session, you will be offered the following options:

  • Remove Customer software:  Forces an uninstall on your Customer’s PC of the support app.  This will remove all Instant Housecall software, icons, and start menu items.  It does not remove session or customer history.

  • Show session confirmation in browser:  Opens your customer’s browser and shows them any notes you typed, session start and end times.  Can be branded with your logo

  • Send session confirmation via e-mail:  If your customer’s e-mail address is in their profile, automatically sends a session confirmation to that address

  • Open customer browser to URL:  Opens your customer’s browser to a URL that you specify.  Typically used for feedback surveys, or for marketing


Reboot and Reconnect

By default, if your customer’s computer reboots, it will automatically reconnect to you.  If you want to reboot your customer’s computer into Windows Safe Mode, or force an Emergency Reboot, you can explicitly request it.


  • Standard reboot:  Analogous to clicking Start > Shutdown > Restart on  your Customer’s PC

  • Safe mode reboot:  Analogous to restarting your Customer’s PC, having them press F8 at boot up, choosing Safe Mode with networking

  • Force emergency reboot:  Nearly analogous to a hard reset



Desktop

Windows Store app

  • Click Connection > Reboot and Reconnect, then choose a type

  • Open the command bar: right-click on the bezel (black frame)

  • Choose Reboot & Reconnect, then choose a type



Request unattended access (during a session)

If you wish to request unattended access during an on-demand session, you can ask your Customer for permission.  


Choose Request Unattended Access from the drop down menus (Desktop) or command bar (Windows Store app) and your Customer will be shown a dialog box asking for permission.


Remote control will be suspended while your Customer is asked for permission.  Only your Customer can provide you with unattended access permission, you cannot grant it to yourself remotely.


Note:  Alternatively use “hold all calls and sign out” if you want to temporarily place a call on hold and return to it later.  Right click the system tray icon (Desktop) or click the logout back arrow (Windows Store app) and choose Transfer call.  Your call will be placed on hold, and you can move to another computer.  When you sign-in from the new computer, your session will automatically resume within 30 seconds.


Request remote control

If your customer has set you to View Only mode (either during a session or before it started via the Options on the support app), you will not be able to move the mouse or type on their keyboard.


Request remote control from the drop down menus (Desktop) to show a dialog box to your Customer, or ask them to toggle View Only from the Customer system tray icon.


Accepting payment

Break/fix computer technicians often require payment from Customers during a session.  Instant Housecall can be integrated into any online shopping cart.  By default, we support PayPal.  Integrations into other shopping carts are also available at no cost.


If your PayPal e-mail address/ID has been entered into the administrator control panel, choose Accept Payment from the drop down menus (Desktop) or command bar (Windows Store App).  


The Specialist will be put into “View only” mode during payment, and you are unable to control the remote computer.  


The Customer will be directed to your online shopping cart.  Once you see that payment is completed, you can ask your Customer to grant you remote control permission, either by right clicking his or her system tray icon or by using the Request Remote Control feature on the Specialist side.


For break/fix techs, we recommend connecting to your Customer at no charge, providing an estimate, accepting payment, starting work, and settling up any differences in cost with your customer at the end of the session.  


Conference call / Transfer call

If you have more than one Specialist, you can conference up to 10 technicians into one remote support session.  



Desktop

Windows Store app

  • Click Connection > Conference call

  • Type the e-mail address of the Specialist you want to add to a call

  • From the Customer-side system tray icon, choose Conference call

  • Type the e-mail address of the Specialist you want to add


You can also transfer calls between technicians by conferencing in another tech, then ending the session.  The session with the other Specialist will not be affected.



ADMINISTRATOR CONTROL PANEL

The administrator control panel lets you configure branding and default settings for Instant Housecall.


The administrator control panel is available at admin.instanthousecall.com.  Features in the administrator control panel will vary depending on the Instant Housecall package you have.


Greeting

Your greeting is a promotional message that you show to your customers.  The Greeting changes the text your Customer sees in two places:

  1. Your support portal, where your Customer downloads the support app

  2. The lower-third of the UI your Customer sees when he or she runs the support app


Greetings are typically used for promotional or informational messages you want your customer to see.


Branding

Instant Housecall is automatically branded with your company name in most places, including the download filename.  


You can add logos and icons to further customize the software that your customers use.


  • Support portal logo:  Changes the logo that appears at yourCompany.instanthousecall.com

  • Splash screen:  Changes the logo that appears on the splash screen your Customer sees when he or she runs Instant Housecall

  • Desktop icon: Changes the desktop icon on your Customer’s computer that they can use to launch Instant Housecall.  Both the graphic and the icon text are customizable

  • Lower third:  Changes the graphic on the lower-third of the Start Session screen your customer sees when he or she runs Instant Housecall


For best results, it is important that you upload graphics that conform to the size, dimensions, and transparency requirements set out in the administrator control panel.  All graphics will be scale, which can result in distorted graphics if improperly sized.


Online shopping cart

If you wish to accept payment during a session, enter your PayPal ID (e-mail) in the field provided.  


If you use a different shopping cart provider, contact support with the HTTP GET API from your shopping cart provider and we will integrate it for you at no charge.


Terms and Conditions

If you want your customers to agree to your Terms and Conditions before a sessions starts, enter them here.  


Manage Specialists, Prompting Customers for Contact info

Each Specialist has his or her own behavior profile.  Specialists can be configured to receive SMS notifications when a Customer starts a session or opens a time window.  


If your Instant Housecall plan includes SMS notifications, open a support ticket with the phone number and carrier (cell phone provider) you wish to receive SMS notifcations on.


Customer contact info stores your Customer’s Name, E-mail, Phone, and E-mail address in the system.  These values are used in session confirmations, and in the case of e-mail to send notifications to your customers.


They will also appear in the Specialist user interface so that you can easily identify each of your customers during a session and when a call comes in.


Your Customer’s contact info can be typed by you or you can prompt your Customer to type it themselves when they start a session.  


There are three modes for Customer Contact info.  You can choose which mode you want to use under Manage Specialists in the administrator control panel:


  • Always ask

    • Prompts customers to type it at the start of each session

  • New Customers only

    • Prompts customers at the start of the first session.  If customer contact info is already on file, this step is skipped

  • Never ask

    • Never asks customers for contact info


Specialists can view, add or edit the Customer contact info during a session.


To view and edit customer contact info during a session, from the Specialist Sign-in:


Desktop

Windows Store app

  • Click File > Notes, Profile & History

  • Click the Customer tab

  • Click “Update” to save any changes

  • Open the command bar: right-click on the bezel (black frame)

  • Click Details


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WINDOWS STORE APP SETTINGS


This section applies onto the the Windows Store app.


Additional settings can be found in the Settings Charm of the Windows Store app.


The Windows key, Tab key, and Ctrl-Alt-Del are reserved for operating system use only.


To help you manage Windows 8.1 and higher computers remotely with keyboard and mouse, the Instant Housecall app has shortcuts for useful keystrokes that you may want to send to the remote compute.


  • A virtual Windows key is embedded in the on-screen bezel.  Clicking this key will send a Windows keystroke to the remote PC

  • The diamond menu, also on the bezel, includes useful shortcuts to show Charms, App Bar (command bar) and other common Windows keystrokes


Other reserved keystrokes can be mapped.  To find key mappings, open the app’s Settings Charm (Win+C), then click Behaviors and UI.  Change the appropriate toggles for the keys you want to map.

  • Backtick (`) sends tab:  Sends a “Tab” keystroke to the remote PC when you press the Backtick (`) key

  • Ctrl-Shift(+Key) sends Win(+Key):  Allows you to send Win+Key combinations by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Key. For example, turning this on lets you press Ctrl+Shift+Z sends Win+Z to show the command bar on the remote PC

  • Ctrl-Shift-Del sends Ctrl-Alt-Del:  Translate Ctrl-Shift-Del to the equivalent of Ctrl-Alt-Del on your customer’s computer, letting you lock or unlock the remote PC


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INSTALLING THE SUPPORT APP ON CUSTOMER MACHINES AT YOUR SHOP


In some cases, it’s not practical to download the support app and install it on each PC manually.  


You can install the support app using a machine or a USB key that you carry with you.


If you are installing the support app using a USB key on-site, it is recommended that you instead create a Windows Shortcut with your direct download link.  Double clicking this shortcut will download the latest version of Instant Housecall.


If you are installing Instant Housecall from an image, there are two important registry keys you need to be aware of:

  • suid -- single user identifier.  

  • repId -- the e-mail address of the default Specialist.


These keys can be found in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Instant Housecall.


The suid is a unique key that identifies a single machine.  It is important that the suid not be copied between PCs.  You can safely delete the suid key and a new ID will be re-generated when the support app is run.


Manually setting the repId ensures that your customer connects directly to you the first time Instant Housecall is run.  


repId should contain the e-mail address of the default Specialist.



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SETUP


Direct download links

If you prefer that your customers download the support app from your website, e-mail signature or social media, you can add a direct download link anywhere you can use HTML.


To get your direct download link:


Desktop

Windows Store

  • Right-click the system tray icon

  • Choose “Online Help”

  • Click Next, and “Copy HTML”

  • From the Hub screen, right click to show the App Bar, or click Start Session

  • Choose “via Direct Download” via the top command bar


HTML will be copied to your Windows clipboard.  It can be pasted directly into your website.


If you want to change the graphic or text, place it between between the <a> and </a> HTML tags.


By default, Instant Housecall will provide you with a direct download link for the standard support app.  Typically, you should use the standard support app.  The “Safe” app is available for a fall-back in case your Customer’s computer is infected or heavily locked down.


For more information about the differences between the Standard and Safe support apps, click here.


If you want to create a direct download link for the Safe Applet, append “&mode=safeexe” to the URL (without the quotes).


If you have more than one Specialist account and want to create download links for specific technicians, append “&specialistPreference=john@doe.com


For example, a direct download link using the Safe Applet and John Doe looks like this:


<a href="https://secure.instanthousecall.com/cgi-bin/dlsecure.cgi?sub=example&mode=safeexe&specialistPrference=john@doe.com">Sample only - do not copy and paste</a>



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AUTOMATING YOUR REPAIRS

Instant Housecall includes PC Repair Automation.  Repair automation lets you automate most common technical tasks, run your favorite tools, and provides you with a basic workflow.  You can also add and remove custom apps from the UI.


When a session ends, all of your tools and files are cleaned up automatically so your customer doesn’t have access to them.


You can also view diagnostic information about a Customer’s computer, generate reports, and save them for future reference.


Profiles can be saved, and apps customized, to save technician time and effort.  


Overview

To run PC repair automation:


Desktop

Windows Store

  • From the drop down menus, choose Auto PC Repair

  • Choose whether you want to launch immediately, or create a restore point on your customer’s PC, and then launch

  • Open the command bar: right-click on the bezel (black frame)

  • Choose Auto PC Repair


Note:  creating a restore point on your Customer’s computer can take a long time.


The repair automation tools will automatically launch and configur.  Any saved profiles from previous sessions will propagate across sessions.


Once launched, you will be presented with an overview of your Customer’s PC health.  Items highlighted in Red and blue can be clicked to open related and more detailed information.


Categories

The left side of the screen shows you categories of repairs, including Audit/Diagnose, Malware Removal, Maintenance, and Windows Repair.


Each of these screens includes an area for “Custom Apps”.  You can change the apps that appear here by choosing the “Config” category, and adding your custom app.


Running repairs automatically

  • Launch Auto PC repair from the drop down menus (Desktop) or command bar (Windows Store App)

  • Choose a category at the left of the screen.  

  • In the main pane of the app, check off the apps that you would like to run.  

  • You can change their order by choosing “up” or “dn” from the bottom of each pane.

  • Click Start Auto Mode to run the items you have checked off.

  • Apps will be automatically run in order from left to right, top to bottom.


Saving Profiles

If you have an auto mode profile that you want to use again in a future session (for example, a remove virus profile with specific items checked and ordered), you can save that profile for future use.  


  • Choose a category (for example, Malware removal)

  • At the top-right of the main pane, locate the profile Combo Box.  Type a Profile Name

  • Click Save Profile


Profiles that you save will be saved on the Specialist PC and will be available to you in for future sessions.  


To retrieve a profile, choose it from the drop down list in the Profile combo box.


Context menu options

Whenever the Repair Automation tools are open on the Customer PC, several extensions are added to Windows Explorer (for example, “Upload to Virus Total”, “Google this”, and “Open command prompt here”).


These tools are useful if you are trying to diagnose a Customer’s PC.  To view context menu options, right click any file in Windows Explorer, then choose the Extensions from the Context Menu.

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