How to screen share

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A manager about to teach how to screen share in a video meeting
An employee presenting to her team using screen-share

What is screen sharing?

Screen sharing is the process of sharing the content on your screen to other devices, often with the goal of making collaboration possible when team members are in different locations. It also refers to the tool or software that makes the whole thing work.

When you screen share in an online meeting, other participants will be able to view files, documents, and apps from your device without you having to send them anything. You can choose to include everything on your screen, or just a specific window. The goal is to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Screen showing how the screen sharing tool in RingCentral Video works

How does screen sharing work?

Online screen sharing involves real-time communication and is powered by VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), the technology that makes calls over the internet possible.

Let’s get a bit technical for a moment and look at the nuts and bolts of how it works. This is what happens when you share your screen to the other participants in a meeting:

  1. With VoIP technology, the information (this could be an image, video, or document) on the screen of your device is broken down into packets of data—in other words, language that the internet can understand..
  2. The data packets travel over the internet and into the destination device.
  3. The destination device rebuilds the information (content) for the people on the other end to understand it.

Most screen sharing solutions are designed to compress data to reduce bandwidth and monitor all activities on the screen. Now, the destination device(s) is/are able to show what’s on the host computer’s desktop

Ways to share your screen

Professionals around the world can join a webinar

Screen share as the main functionality

Some apps are created primarily for screen sharing. They may come in the form of plug-ins you can launch from your web browser or downloadable software that requires you to create an account.

Best used for:
  • Quick meetings
A remote employee talking to IT support via video meeting

Screen share through remote desktop access

Remote access apps use screen sharing technology to, as we mentioned earlier, pass or share control over your desktop. With your permission, anyone can view and make changes to the documents you shared as if they’re in front of your computer. If they move the cursor, you’ll see the cursor on your computer move (quite startling if you’re caught off guard).

Best used for:
  • Remote support

Screen share through video conferencing

Screen sharing also comes as a feature in many video conferencing solutions. With the right conferencing software, you can broadcast your screen for a more engaging presentation that inspires and facilitates collaboration. For many businesses, this has become a way of life.

Best used for:
  • Online meetings
  • Online training and webinars
  • Product demos
  • Remote support
A group of students ready for online learning through video conference with screen sharing

Practical uses of screen sharing

Let’s face it. Screen sharing plays a vital role in today’s business environment. The ability to share your desktop in real-time opened up a world of possibilities for doing business. Here are some examples of practical uses of screen sharing:

Online meetings

Screen sharing makes it easier to collaborate on the same project with field or remote teams. Without it, you’ll have to send a copy of your presentation to all meeting participants (in effect, having them download large files) just so they can understand what you’re discussing.


The screen sharing tool is essential to any type of meeting that involves a presentation. That’s mainly due to the fact that, whether you’re trying to educate people or share the latest company news, it’s always better to show than just tell. Doing this boosts engagement among the participants and allows you to impart knowledge more effectively. 

The following are examples of activities that tend to require a presentation:

  • Webinars
  • Online training
  • Product demos
  • Sales pitches

Remote IT and customer support

Screen sharing removes all the guesswork associated with it. It’s especially useful if you don't have desktop screen sharing (the tech that allows IT staff to gain control over your computer). Instead of explaining the issue over the phone, you can show your IT staff what’s wrong so they can fix it remotely.

Thanks to screen sharing technology, people no longer have to explain everything through a phone call while sending screenshots via email in the middle of their conversation. Troubleshooting is also a lot easier when both parties are looking at the same thing at the same time.

The same goes for someone who needs customer support from your brand, especially if your business sells software. If you can use screen sharing to solve your customer’s problem faster, you’ll score high on customer service.

When you're working remotely and notice something wrong with your computer, you usually have to verbally explain the problem to your IT support team. And for something as technical as computer issues, we all know how frustrating your conversation can go.

Desktop being screen shared during meeting

How to screen share for free?

If you’re a small business owner, you’ve probably asked yourself this question.

We’ve mentioned earlier that there are screen sharing apps available for download on the internet. That’s great news, especially if you just need to use it for personal or basic tasks. Typically, all you have to do is download the program and install it on your device—it’s that quick.

But you’d probably realize just as quickly that free sharing software can only take you so far. In a more practical sense, a business-focused app is what you need.

The importance of getting a business-level sharing service

Free screen sharing apps certainly have their merits. But as a business owner, you want something that ticks all the boxes and that scales as you grow.

Why is this crucial to your business? Let’s take a quick look at where free solutions usually fall short—and how a reliable business-level service can save the day.

 A screen can be shared, but with a limited number of participants

Free sharing apps usually cater to the smallest of businesses. If you can only share your desktop with up to four participants during a meeting, you’ll have a problem as you hire more employees. Business-level apps offer plans that allow an unlimited number of participants in a meeting.

No support for video and (sometimes) audio conferencing

Video technology adds a new dimension to meetings. If your service doesn’t support video conferencing, you’re missing out on the benefits of other collaborative features.

Short on collaborative tools

The best sharing solutions have all the necessary features businesses need to work together more efficiently. You can take collaboration up a notch by using screen sharing together with other tools like:


Another way to engage participants in a discussion is by using the annotation feature. You can add text, draw, or use a laser pointer to highlight certain ideas in a shared document.

Screen share recording

Record your discussions over a shared screen for documentation purposes or for future use. You’ll be able to review key points and note critical details for upcoming meetings and presentations.

Security issues

Free sharing solutions are generally not designed to handle sensitive discussions and, because of this, might leave you vulnerable to cyberattacks. The reality is that you’ll likely share private information during meetings. This is why you need the top-tier security of business-focused software.

Lack of customer support

If you get something for free, don’t expect high-level customer support. Some providers will serve you just the same—and some may not.

No support for other platforms

Not all solutions can support both Windows and Mac for desktop and laptop computers and both iOS and Android for mobile devices. The thing is, your employees use different devices and platforms. It’s important that all of them can join conferences and share their screen if they need to.

Group of people to go video conferencing

Ready to hit the “share screen” button?

The actual steps on how to screen share vary from one software to another. But for top solutions like RingCentral, it's about as straightforward as can be— it only takes seconds

Here’s how it works in general:

  1. Once you’re logged in to a meeting, you just need to click (or tap if you’re using a mobile device) the “Share Screen” button or icon.
  2. You will be asked to choose the window or application that you want to share. If you’re sharing a video, you may need to click another button to optimize your audiovisual experience..
  3. When you’re all set, click or tap "Share."
  4. You can choose the Annotate button to add annotations on a shared application.
  5. When you’re done, simply click "Stop Share."

Take your meetings to the next level with screen sharing. By encouraging collaboration, you’re on your way to building powerhouse teams.

Screen sharing is one of the many collaborative tools from RingCentral Video. Check it out today by clicking the button below. (Or, contact our sales team or fill out our form)