Working from home has become a necessity for many since the spread of Covid-19 around the globe. Gone are face-to-face meetings around a desk and presentations in a room full of people. Home office is the way to go which, however, brings a different range of technological challenges.
Apart from a reliable computer and internet connection, one of the most important tools for your home office is a software that allows you to share your screen remotely, whether it’s to collaborate on a project with colleagues, share a presentation with a client or because a technician needs to access your computer for trouble-shooting purposes.
There are several apps, tools and services available which all cater for different needs. Some offer basic screen-sharing features, others allow web conferencing, video chat or remote access. The good news is that many software developers have made free versions available in the light of Covid-19. Here are some of the best screen-sharing tools in 2020.
Basic screen sharing
These tools allow you to share your entire screen or an application with one or more participants, usually via an email link or access code.
Without having to sign up, Dead Simple offers screen sharing through Firefox or Chrome by installing the appropriate browser extension. The basic version allows you to share an application window or the entire screen with up to 4 participants via email invite. Premium plans let you invite up to 150 people and access video conferencing and remote support.
Choose between the free version to simply share your screen, a document or application with one other person online, or upgrade to Mikogo Professional to invite up to 25 people and get access to audio and video conferencing and remote support. This service does not require any downloads or plug-ins.
Available on any device that supports Google Chrome, this app allows you to share your screen instantly with others and communicate via chat while doing so. The free version is limited to 2 meetings with 8 viewers totalling 40 minutes per day. However, Screenleap offers various plans to also access audio and video conferencing with less restrictions.
Show My PC
One of the most basic tools, Show My PC lets you share your screen by sending out an access code to participants. There is no video or audio available, but the option to upgrade for home or office PC services.
Screen sharing through video conferencing
If simple screen-sharing is not enough, the following tools include video and audio conferencing to collaborate with a wider audience.
Cisco Webex Meetings
After signing up for a Webex meeting account, you receive free access to unlimited meetings with up to 100 participants, HD video and screen sharing in a personal room. Upgrades to additional features are available.
If you already have a Google account, you can share your screen during audio and video calls with other users for free using your web browser. Meetings can be scheduled via Google Calendar and attendees receive an invite with the meeting URL. The business version Google Hangouts Meet is part of the GSuite office suite. Here, video meetings are encrypted to ensure the safety of your data in addition to a range of anti-abuse measures.
With the click of a button you can virtually meet with clients, customers or co-workers and share presentations during group live chats as well as audio and video conferences. Meetings can be scheduled and recorded for later viewing.
One of the first video conferencing apps ever released, Skype requires users to download and install the app and create an account. However, video chats are now also available without downloads or sign-ups, and screen sharing is part of the free call feature.
Founded by engineers from Cisco and WebEx, Zoom works similar to Skype in combining cloud audio and video conferencing, online meetings and group messaging which can also be recorded for later viewing. Share your screen during any meeting and host presentations for up to 50 participants. The basic version is free and limits each meeting to 40 minutes. Zoom works across all devices either by downloading the app or joining meetings via a unique access code.
Screen Sharing through remote access
The ultimate solution to share your screen, collaborate on projects, offer online training and provide technical support when things aren’t working.
Chrome Remote Desktop
Accessing other computers through Google Chrome or via a Chromebook or any device based on Android or iOS, Chrome Remote Desktop lets you choose between short-term access such as for technical support or long-term access for sharing files and applications. It allows for cross-platform support, making it a viable solution for Mac, Linux and Windows. Access is granted via a Chrome browser extension, your Google account and a unique access code, and all remote sessions are encrypted for extra security.
Completely free of charge, MingleView is a peer-to-peer screen sharing tool that also lets you host online meetings and presentations with colleagues, clients or family. It also supports remote access for troubleshooting purposes. Access is granted via a six-digit meeting ID and there is no limit on the number of participants. The only downside is that MingleView is not available for Mac.
Free for personal use, TeamViewer is probably one of the best remote screen-sharing tools around. Connection between computers is easily established within a few seconds after downloading the app. Simply email out invitations and you receive access as if you were sitting right in front of the other desktop. Apart from sharing parts or your entire screen as well as individual applications, TeamViewer also offers video and audio file sharing as well as chat and whiteboard features. Plans for commercial use are available.
Windows Remote Assist
Built into any recent Windows operating system, the Windows Remote Desktop Connection feature allows two computers to connect remotely to share screens and take control. This allows workers to access their office computer from home or two colleagues to share their desktops when collaborating on a project while not being in the same location.
Mac Messaging App
Mac users also have a built-in feature that allows desktop sharing between iMessage users. During chat sessions you can view each other’s screen and grant permission to remotely control each other’s computer, making it easy to collaborate on projects or offer trouble-shooting support.
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