Do mom, friends and relatives often call you for tech support? If they are staying in the neighbourhood, you could simply walk to their place and fix their computer problems but what happens in the case when they are located at a far-away location like in another city or even another country?

While a lot of computer problems can be fixed by giving instructions over the phone, that can be a time consuming process especially when the person at the other side is not too tech-savvy.  

Simple problems like how to download videos from YouTube, how to upload pictures from the Digital Camera to Flickr, how to find that “elusive” cooking recipe, how to uninstall unnecessary programs.. they are best explained when accompanied with a live demonstration.

That’s where virtual screen sharing software enter the game – they help bridge these physical distances. Screen Sharing software allow you to take control of your friend’s computer without you having to leave the desk – your friend (who may be across the ocean) can relax and watch while you fix the issues on his computer.

One of the most popular screen sharing software is CrossLoop – it’s completely free and so simple to use that even mom can get started in seconds without ever reading the help manual.

Here’s how CrossLoop works – both the parties download and install this application on their computers which are connected to the internet. CrossLoop window has just two tabs – the JOIN and the HOST tab. Your friend clicks on the HOST tab and sends you the randomly generated access code that appears on his CrossLoop window.

You type that access code in your copy of CrossLoop and immediately get access to his computer – you can even control his mouse and keyboard and show him the exact steps required to fix the computer or to accomplish some task.

CrossLoop is a Windows-only application and may not work in cases when you are on a PC while the friend, who needs support, is on a Mac (or vice-versa). No worries because Yuuguu, another useful free screen sharing software, will come very handy in such situations – it’s cross platform and also lets you text / voice chat with individuals whilst you screen share so it feels like you’re together in the same room.

For Skype and Yahoo! Messenger users, Unyte is a free add-on that will convert these messengers into screen display software – you can show your computer screen to other IM buddies though you will to upgrade to a paid version in order to gain control of their keyboard and mouse.

Unyte remains in your system tray and is available instantly when you are ready to show your desktop. Select the contact you wish to share your screen with and hit “Start Sharing” – your contact will immediately see your desktop real-time.

If you have the time and the inclination, you can turn your hobby of helping others into a paying profession.

Skype and Ether are two companies that will help you with the payments – your friends can call you via these services, you connect to their desktops via CrossLoop and they are automatically charged by Ether or Skype for the time you spent in fixing the problem – you decide the rates and the time at which clients can call you.

In case of Ether, Clients will only be able to call you when they’ve prepaid your rate. Ether bills their credit cards and sends you your money via direct deposit or check. Ether ‘s commission is 15%.