Blog Post

Collaboration With Skype Desktop Sharing: The Best Free Method?

Those of us who work at home or on the road sometimes need to reach out and touch someone. Collaborating with co-workers is very important, not only in order to get things done effectively, but also to keep in touch with the outside world. Skype is a commonly used tool for interacting remotely with others. It’s free, and it works well for text, audio and video chats. The latest version of Skype for the Mac and Windows has added a brilliant feature that takes collaboration to the next step. I have been using Skype to share desktops remotely with other Skype users, and it has been an outstanding experience.

Skype sharing 2

An effective way to collaborate with co-workers remotely is through desktop sharing. One of the two workers, the host, invites the other to share his or her desktop for collaboration. The remote worker sees exactly what the host is doing on the local computer. This is good for a number of tasks — among them being computer support, design work, and collaborating on documents.

Skype makes sharing a desktop remotely as simple as pushing a button in the call window. In just a few seconds, the host’s desktop pops up in a window on the remote user’s screen. This window is resizable, up to the resolution of the host’s screen. Resizing the window is done with crisp resolution, no matter what size is used.

The shared desktop is updated in real time, which Skype does with almost no lag at all. The remote user can follow the cursor of the host on the screen, and see exactly what he or she is doing at any given moment. This is true collaboration; it is just like looking over the host’s shoulder to see what he or she is doing.

Yesterday, Kevin and I had a 30-minute collaboration session to work on two documents. We needed to jointly contribute to the editing of a Word document and an Excel spreadsheet. Kevin suggested that we go the Skype desktop-sharing route, and it was a great decision. Kevin shared his desktop with me, and we talked about the changes we wanted to make. I could watch the work unfold in real time in the window displaying Kevin’s desktop across the country. We accomplished in 30 minutes what would have taken us hours going back and forth via email. This collaboration made it seem as if we were in the same room working together, which in a way we were.

Today I collaborated with Simon of WebWorkerDaily. We needed to work on something together, and he rang me up via Skype. He shared his MacBook screen with me (pictured above), and we got our work done quickly. The Skype desktop sharing provided me with a remote window that was just as resolute as Simon’s screen, and I was able to follow everything that happened on his computer. We chatted while working on his computer, and it was a great session.

This was true remote collaboration, as I am in Houston and Simon is in the UK. That’s the beauty of Skype’s desktop-sharing method. The sharing, coupled with high quality audio chat, is outstanding for getting things done. I was impressed with the lack of lag in displaying the host’s screen. At times, it was hard to tell I wasn’t looking at my own desktop.

I have tried many different tools for collaborating remotely, and I must say that Skype’s implementation of desktop sharing is the best by far. It has been consistent in quality, and I’ve experienced no issues yet. Throw in the bonus of it being free, and Skype has created a winner.

13 Responses to “Collaboration With Skype Desktop Sharing: The Best Free Method?”

  1. WebMinder

    +1 for Mikogo, It works very well and gives your remote desktop control which Skype doesn’t have. Response time is fast with good quality screen display. Another plus for Mikogo is that it also free for business use, unlike other “lite” options.

  2. You may wish to try out our SupportSmith TeamUp! Lite.
    This is a FREE small tool for desktop and application sharing.

    It allows you to work with any other TeamUp! Lite user sharing a single application or the whole desktop in just three steps:

    1. Select item to share.
    2. Enter peer DomainName.
    3. Send invitation to share.

    We would love to hear from you. Your feedback would be really appreciated.
    Best regards!

    Cybele Software Team
    http://www.cybelesoft.com
    http://www.supportsmith.com

  3. Hi James,
    Perhaps you and Kevin would be interested in taking a look at Mikogo desktop sharing. It’s a free cross-platform app that allows you to share your screen with up to 10 people for web conferencing. Plus it includes remote keyboard/mouse control so you can directly contribute to a document on your participant’s screen, live over the Web.
    There is more info at http://www.mikogo.com or please feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to send you further info.

    Cheers!

    Andrew Donnelly
    The Mikogo Team
    Twitter: @Mikogo

  4. Martin

    Does it have the same level of (un)safety as common Skype? There are several reasons why not to use Skype for voice communication… using it for desktop sharing seems to be even more complicated from this point of view.

    • Jeff Malone

      What are you talking about? My understanding is that Skype is the most secure of all *free* IM clients. Any links backing up your statement?

    • Martin

      What I say is mostly based on the fact that Skype is closed source application and you know nothingh about protocols, standards and implementations. If you *believe* that Skype implemented everything as it should be done, you can be perfectly OK with Skype service. Otherwise you can find tons of articles on the internet, including http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype_security and many more. Please note that if you are Skype supernode, your bandwidth is consumed for other Skype users around, etc.

      There are much more concerns from business users, but it may not be your case. (There ARE reasons why Skype is often forbidden on corporate networks.)

  5. oliver

    I tried it today, and the quality of the desktop rendering wasn’t very good (fairly blurry). Switched back to VNC. Not as convenient, but worked better.

  6. I think that web sharing is going to be one of the most anticipated features of future Firefox (code name aurora), and eventually probably also Chrome and the ChromeOS.