It is exciting to get a new device, but setting it up can take time, particularly if the person with the device is not confident in using technology. The good news is that it is possible to help someone set up their device without being with them. Helping in this remote way has many advantages, the main one being that the device owner will get a much better idea of how to use it, and hopefully they will need less support in the long run!!

You can help someone remotely using a telephone, email, messaging app (such as WhatsApp) or using video calling through any device. Check out our great guides to being a Remote Digital Champion.


Preparing to help someone set up a new device

  1. Familiarise yourself with the device. There are this great set of videos on the Unboxing YouTube channel that cover unpacking a wide range of devices. You may also be able to find a basic getting started manual on the manufacturer's websites. If you can't find details for the specific device then you can look at general details of the operating system the device uses. See the the links at the bottom of this page for the most common operating systems.
  2. Find out from the person you are helping if they have access to the internet and what they would like to do on their device. You can then do some research on the cheapest way for them to connect to the internet and the best apps for them.


Talking them through their new device

The remote support you can provide will depend on whether you are talking to them on the phone or on a video call or through email instructions. Whichever method you use the the first and most important steps are:

  1. Get them to turn on their device and make sure it is charged.
  2. You will need to talk them through the initial set-up questions as the device starts for the first time. This may also include setting up an account in Google, Windows or Apple. Advise them what makes a strong password, but get them to keep their password to themselves!
  3. Get the person you're helping to have a pen and paper handy to write down the steps as you go along. They can refer to these later!
  4. Next they will probably need to get the device connected to the internet and set up their home screen with the best apps for them. If you are not on a video call this may take time as you won't be able to see what they are doing. For your own reference have step-by-step notes nearby to refer to (you can also send these to the person you're helping).
  5. If the device doesn't come with a subscription to an antivirus software or free inbuilt protection (such as Windows Defender), it is important that you help them set this up before they start using the internet. 


     Remember to:

  • be patient and listen!
  • try not to cover too much!
  • be encouraging! Tell them it is okay to play around with their device- it is hard to break it!
  • send them an email or text after the session with any useful weblinks or pointers to remind them of what you've covered.


Useful resources


Top 10 tips fpr new iPad users

How to turn on an iPad

How to search the web on an iPad

Android tablets

Android tablets for Dummies

Tech Savy Seniors Introduction to Android tablets


How to connect to Wi-Fi on an Android phone

GCF Globals free smartphone ad tablets tutorials

Computers and laptops and general

10 Top tips for computer beginners

Getting started with Windows 10

A searchable area on th Dummies website covering all types of devices

SCVO guides to getting started with a Chromebook