Screen-sharing apps for easy collaboration
Screen-sharing services offer a variety of applications for both personal and professional use. Whether you need to share a slide deck, help someone troubleshoot a technical issue or give a presentation to your department, a number of services offer these features for a monthly fee.
But if you don't need screen-sharing functionality all the time, you may not want to shell out a monthly fee for a program. Fear not, here are 15 free screen-sharing programs that will get you on your way to virtual collaboration.
TeamViewer is free for personal use, and it comes with a bevy of features. It works across several platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iPhone and iPad, is available in more than 30 languages. In addition to screen sharing, you can share video and audio with other participants. You can also opt to show parts of your screen or just specific programs, if you want to avoid sharing your entire desktop. TeamViewer supports file sharing, chat and whiteboard functionalities; it requires a download and you can email meeting invitations to other participants.
The service you probably used most often to video chat with friends, family and colleagues, but you can use it as a screen-sharing tool. In the past, you needed a subscription to use the screen sharing service, but nearly a year ago, Skype opened up the feature to free accounts. You can also send files and share your screen with individuals or a group. If you're already accustomed to using Skype for messaging, video chat and calls, it might make sense to start using it for screen-sharing purposes as well.
Screen Leap relies on Java for free "one click screen sharing." Free users get one to two hours of screen sharing per day with up to eight viewers, and nothing else. For some users that might be just enough to get the job done, but you rely more heavily on screen sharing might need a service with more flexibility. The service uses Java, which is automatically disabled on Macs for security purposes, but there is a separate application for Mac users. Screen Leap claims one-click screen sharing, after the initial software instillation. Participants receive a code, and they can view the presentation via a tablet, notebook, smartphone or desktop computer.
Join.me, from the creators of LogMeIn, touts its software as easy to use and hassle free, which is what you want from a screen-sharing software so you can quickly get on with your meetings. It's also free to use, with basic screen-sharing features, the capability to invite up to 10 participants and VoIP features. The free version lets you use the mobile app, transfer files, share controls and have up to four white boards on the iPad app. You just need to download a desktop app first, and from there the process is simple.
Show My PC
ShowMyPC's mission is to offer "free and integrated collaboration tools for all users," according to its website. Download the free software, then upon starting it up, you can generate a password to send to other participants. Alternatively, if you are trying to log into a meeting, you enter the code in a box and you'll be taken to the meeting. Users can chat and take screen shots with the free service, but you will need to pay a subscription fee if you want to share files, switch presenters or record the meeting.
This service is completely free, so you won't be pestered with upgrade prompts every time you launch the program. Mingleview allows for unlimited participants, unlimited meeting hosting, no installation, secure peer-to-peer connections over SSL and it doesn't require port forwarding or firewall configuration. The only hitch is that it's for Windows users only, so if you are trying to screen share with someone on a Mac, you will be out of luck.
If you like to use Google Hangouts for chats and video calls, you can also use it to share your screen with other users. When you start a Hangouts call, you have the option to choose a presenter and start a screenshare. It's free and users just need a Google account -- which most people have at this point anyway -- and the Hangouts app, which is free to download.
Apache OpenMeetings is a barebones service -- it's a free browser-based software that lets you connect with others over the Web. It features audio, video, document sharing, messaging, screen sharing, white board and the capability to record your meetings. There are no limits on how many meetings you can have in a day or the number of participants in each session, which will make it appealing if you need to host regular virtual meetings.
Another browser-based screen-sharing service, Mikogo doesn't require any downloads or Flash. It's free for noncommercial use and a free account gets you unlimited meetings, VoIP and phone conferencing. It works across PC, Mac, Linux, as well as on iOS and Android devices. The free version does have some limitations, and in order to record meetings, use a whiteboard, and have more than three participants per session, you will need to pay for a business account.
Vyew has a free account option that doesn't limit you as much as other services, but it does include advertisements and fewer participants in a room at a time. It's a browser-based service, and it offers some unique options. Vyew lets users can change the interface colors and logos for branding purposes, publish meetings on your website or via direct URL and it also features "always-on" meeting rooms. The continuous or "always-on" meetings let you log in at any time, catch up with what has happened since they were gone and it will auto save and archive the meeting. The service has a host of interesting and unqiue features. You can find an exhaustive list on the website.
Deskhop is unique in that it works via Facebook, unlike any of the other screen-sharing platforms on this list. It lets users share and control one another's desktops, cross platform, on both the desktop and iOS versions of Facebook. Users need to install the Deskhop software on their desktop or download the app on their iOS device. With Deskhop, you can collaborate on documents, share slideshows, edit photos and even take control of another user's computer, if necessary. It's also completely free with no limitations on accounts.
Windows Remote Assistance
Typically used to help troubleshoot a user's computer remotely, Windows Remote Assistance is built into your Windows PC or notebook. You can use it to share your screen with another Windows user, and it's free to use since it comes with your computer. While it might not be a long-term solution if you need to share your screen regularly, it can come in handy if you need a last-minute quick way to share your screen with another Window's user.
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For Mac users, you can share your screen directly through the Messages application. Similar to Windows Remote Assistance, you can also remotely take control of another Mac using this feature. Just choose the "Ask to Share Screen" feature from the options menu, and the other user simply needs to accept the request. Again, it's probably not a great long-term
For Mac users, you can share your screen directly through the Messages application. Similar to Windows Remote Assistance, you can also remotely take control of another Mac using this feature. Just choose the "Ask to Share Screen" feature from the options menu, and the other user simply needs to accept the request. Again, it's probably not a great long-term screen-sharing fix, but it will get the job done if you need to quickly share your desktop with another Mac user.
The free account for AnyMeeting offers collaboration for up to four participants, with a number of useful features. Users can video conference, hold unlimited meetings, hold a conference call, use VoIP calling, take meeting notes, chat, send a personal meeting URL to attendees, sync with Google Apps and Outlook as well as share YouTube videos in the meeting. If you need to hold regular screen-sharing meetings with four participants or less, it's a great option.
If you need to share your screen with a lot of people, Zoom might be the service for you. The free account option lets you share with up to 25 participants and host an unlimited amount of meetings. The only catch? Each meeting can be only 40 minutes long. That might be OK if you can swing an online conference call in 40 minutes or less, but otherwise you'll be cut off before you get to the end of your presentation. The number of features you get with a free account is staggering -HD video, dual stream, whiteboard and recordings just to name a few. If you're in the business of short, quick and to-the-point meetings, check out Zoom.