Screen-Sharing With Skype

by JL Beeken on 2-07-2012

(If you’re wondering why screen-sharing with Skype seems it doesn’t work for free anymore, it’s because Skype counts your webcam and your screen-share as two different videos and you can only have one. So you have to turn your webcam off if you want to use screen-share. Under Call, choose Video and Stop Video.)

Between my cousin, Sam, and my other Cuz I’ve pretty much got a full-time job here.

They’ve both got themselves set up with Skype so we can spend a lot of time screen-sharing.

Sam doesn’t need a headset since she’s got a built-in microphone. She just sits in front of her laptop and talks, hands-free. She also has a webcam so I can see her. She can’t see me because I’m working from my desktop without a webcam. But we can share our screens. (One at a time.)

Screen-sharing does not require a webcam. They’re two totally different things. Screen-sharing means sharing computer screens. A webcam means my face/your face or my house/your house.

Screen-Sharing With Skype

Cuz is working from a desktop too so we both use USB headsets. Any old computer headset will do but USB headsets have the best sound quality. Once we’re connected on Skype, we can flip back and forth looking at her screen or looking at mine.

How to do screen-sharing with Skype in 4 easy steps:

  1. Open Skype
  2. Plug in your headset if you need one.
  3. Call the person you want to talk to on Skype. If you have them in your contact list and they’re online, it will be an option.
  4. Click Share Your Screen.

Usually I don’t have Skype online and neither does Cuz so I’ll call her first on her land-line and tell her I’m going to call her Skype ID. Or I can send her a voicemail through Skype and she’ll get an email notification.

Sam and Cuz both need a lot of help in setting up their computers or trouble-shooting so I’ve spent a lot of time with those things. They both run TuneUp Utilities now and Syncback and have purchased external hard-drives. Cuz survived about ten years without doing backups. I don’t recommend trying it. She, obviously, had an angel or two on her shoulder.

The really fun part for me is that I get to have their help in identifying old photos and videos. I click on Share Your Screen and Cuz can see the photos that I bring up for her and then we can talk about them. She recently sent me her photo collection, without any annotation, through our shared folder in Dropbox so we’re catching up.

Last night we took a trip to Google Maps together to find the location of her grandmother’s house. Turns out to be just around the corner from a place Sam lived many years ago. I wonder if they knew each other?

Using screen-sharing I was able to play old videos for Sam and get her input on dates and places.

Sam uses her webcam to show me around her house and point at the walls to show me old photos I haven’t seen before. She just shuffles around in her slippers carrying her laptop here and there.

I think a pretty good plan for the year would be to get as many living relatives as possible in my Skype contact list and pick their brains.

Skype is free. Long distance calls are free if you’re both using Skype. Cuz got her USB headset for about $12.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

M 3-21-2012 at 4:07 PM

My mother and I use screen sharing on Skype when I need to help her fix something on her computer. Because she’s not very technical, that happens a lot!

Last week, we both got a notice (pop up window) on Skype saying we needed to do an update to the latest version. We did so, thinking an update would only be an improvement, but instead, the update made it impossible for us to screen share.

The only option we got when we tried to screen share was to pay for the group screen sharing – no other type of screen sharing was possible. I looked all over the Skype help forum etc. I looked this issue up online and could only find one person on his blog saying that he wasn’t able to use screen share anymore, and he was pretty upset about it. I didn’t find anyone else talking about this issue, but I think that the update had just come out. There were many mentions about Skype introducing group screen sharing for a subscription fee, but every source was implying that the free, one-to-one screen sharing was still going to be possible.

Unfortunately, the only option we got when we tried to screen share was to pay for the group screen sharing – no other way. We tried for an hour before giving up.

My mother and I deleted that version of Skype from our computers and downloaded one of the earlier versions that still allowed screen sharing. In the future we are not going to update Skype unless we know that the update doesn’t lock individuals out of screen sharing.

I don’t know if this was just a momentary problem that Skype had, or if it only happened to our two computers (surely not), but if you use screen sharing often on Skype, it might be worth checking to see if anyone on the internet is complaining about this problem when you prepare to do your next Skype software update.

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JL 3-21-2012 at 4:41 PM

Thank-you for the warning.

I use Skype screen-sharing a lot and would not be happy about losing it either. I checked my present version number, 5.5.0.124, and also noted there’s an update waiting. I think I’ll stay right where I am!

For the most part, updates are improvements but once in awhile you get a nasty shock. The way I circumvent this is by keeping old installers on my hard-drive so if I want to go back I can. You can also find older versions of some software at OldVersion.com. Here’s the Skype page.

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