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I was able to give items to my follower by dropping the items and ordering the follower to "take that" (is there an easier way?). How do I get the items back?

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You can order a follower to open their inventory. The trick you use is a glitch that bypasses the follower's carrying capacity. – Domocus Nov 24 '11 at 20:08
@Domocus: Oh? It was the only thing I was able to figure out. I guess the trading option must be below all the "talk about your past"-stuff. Thanks! – Jonas Nov 24 '11 at 20:38
up vote 5 down vote accepted

You can talk to them and ask them to trade, the usual trading menu opens up and you can give them your stuff (by hovering the mouse over (or selecting) them and pressing E, or take them from them (by doing the same but pressing R)

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  • Tell them to not follow you.
  • Use a paralysis weapon and paralyze them.
  • Click crouch, and pickpocket them.
  • Select the item you can't take back due to the glitch
  • When you get the item back, go to your inventory and drop the item
  • You can pick it up without them taking it back from you
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