Monday, April 4, 2016

Usability Issues with TeamViewer

by Philip Benjamin George   


TeamViewer is a cross-platform application that lets users connect remotely to machines, host and attend presentations and meetings, share files and make audio and video calls. The application is available across multiple desktop platforms such as Windows, Mac, Linux, ChromeOS and mobile platforms such as Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. It has a wide range of use-cases such as Remote Support i.e. helping people by providing technical support, Unattended Access which is automatic remote connection to machines without manual intervention and conference call functionality. Features of TeamViewer are that it provides high security using RSA and AES encryption, high performance, no configuration required and an easy to understand user interface. Overall, it is a very powerful tool for home as well as business users [1].

Though TeamViewer has many advantages, it suffers from certain usability issues. This blog presents a few usability issues that I encountered with the application. Though these issues are not too serious, they need to be fixed, so users can have a better experience, which will ultimately result in attracting more users.

Product and Platform Information

Software version: TeamViewer 11.0.56083
Operating System: Windows 10 Home Edition

Usability Issues

Below are few usability issues that I encountered when using the TeamViewer application on Windows.

1.      Computers & Contacts window separate from main window

The interface of TeamViewer application has two windows, the primary window with main functionality and a smaller secondary window placed next to it that shows computers and contact information of the user. The presence of two windows for the same application could confuse many new users, as they may not be aware as to why two windows are required. The main purpose of the secondary window is for user login, to present a view of available computers and contacts, adding new contacts and groups, nearby contacts and devices. This window could easily be integrated into the main window to avoid user confusion.

Fig.1 Primary and Secondary windows of TeamViewer

The application could integrate the secondary window to the main window and provide options like expandable side window for contacts and computers, split secondary window option for separating windows based on user preference.

2.      Starts presentation/Video calls without inviting or adding participants

TeamViewer provides options to start presentations or video calls with contacts and nearby users and computers. When users select the presentation or video call option, they are automatically taken to the presentation/video call screen without prompt and without letting users to invite participants. This may take users by surprise, as they first expect to add/invite participants to the meeting instead of being forced into the meeting with no participants, and then selecting them from the presentation/video call screen. All the options for the meeting have to be set from this screen, which could be irritating to users.

Fig.2 Presentation screen with only presenter

It is recommended to present users with a separate screen to add or invite participants to a presentation or video call. This screen should also present users with meeting options, rather than making users select these options on the presentation screen.

3.      No Explicit Exit session/meeting button present

When a user is in a presentation or meeting and wishes to exit, there is no explicit Exit Meeting or session button provided for this purpose. Users have to click the close button present on the TeamViewer dialog, which is not so prominent in the view, to quit the session. There is also no indication that this close button would end the session or whether it would terminate TeamViewer application itself.

Fig. 3 Presentation screen with no explicit Exit session button

The application should have an explicit Exit session button in presentation window for users to quit session.

4.      Notification of Status could be more prominent
Status notifications in TeamViewer are given as colored bubbles in the left corner of the application along with a notification message. Status messages such as Ready to Connect, Abort and Waiting for authentication are shown with colors like green, red and orange respectively. The issue here is the placement of these status messages, especially to users that are new to the application. Any change in status reflected in the lower left corner of application window, may not be noticed by novice users.

Fig. 4 Status notification in TeamViewer

The application could notify users by displaying status changes closer to the central area of the application. The idea should be to place these status messages somewhere the user will easily notice them. There could be a non-modal or progress dialog box appearing to show the status.

5.      Password option icon hidden and misleading

Users can change the password of their TeamViewer application by selecting the icon close to the password field in the main window. This icon is hidden and only appears when the mouse is scrolled over it. This icon (similar to the refresh icon) indirectly implies to generate a password i.e. set password automatically with random characters. This could mislead users, as selecting this icon shows a set of password options, rather than auto-generating passwords. Selecting this icon gives users the option to generate a random or custom password, and copy the password to the clipboard.

Fig. 5 Password options button in TeamViewer

It is recommended that the icon be made visible and be changed to indicate password options instead of a refresh icon that may mislead users.

Overall, my experience with TeamViewer has been very good. Though it does have a few minor issues in the usability perspective, it is quite a powerful tool that does what is expected of it. I found it to be an extremely user friendly application, that I would highly recommend to home and business users.


[1]        TeamViewer, URL:

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