Share Your Screen with Microsoft Teams

One of the most useful features of Microsoft Teams is the ability to share your screen with others.

This is an effective way to collaborate, demonstrate, or provide support to those you work with.

The key to effective screen sharing is understanding that what you see is not always what those you are sharing your screen with see.

What may look perfectly legible on your screen may be too small to read on the viewer’s screen.

Even when sharing a specific window, some parts of the application may be too small to read.

Let’s look at the difference between sharing your Desktop and sharing a specific window, and at the same time look at some settings you may want to consider changing to preset your screen in the best possible way.

If you haven’t seen my earlier post on Teams that covers all of the major program features, click the image to the right to view the post

Starting the Meeting

For this demonstration, we will play the part of a team member at the office using a large display while another team member is working remotely on their small laptop or tablet.

We’re looking at our large desk display where we have logged into Teams and are about to start a new video chat session.

We click the “Meet” button in the upper-right…

… which opens the window that allows for us to pre-select our sound, camera, and microphone behavior.

We click the “Join Now” button (lower-right) to start the meeting.

This meeting will be visible to all members of the selected channel.  They can join if they wish.

The other team members of the selected channel will see that a video chat has started and then can click the “Join” button to enter the meeting.

Once they have joined the meeting, they will see my profile picture since I do not have my camera turned on, nor am I sharing any part of my screen.

From my perspective, I can see those who have joined the meeting.

Time to Share Our Screen

We want to show our team members several documents we have been collaborating on, such as Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, and PowerPoint presentations.

To share your screen, click the Share Content button (or press CTRL-Shift-E) in the upper-right.

This will change the bottom of your screen to display a thumbnailed list of windows and applications you can share.

We have the following options for sharing:

  1. Share the entire Desktop. This allows for the viewing of anything and everything you have open.
  2. Share a specific window (e., application). This is the only viewable content, regardless of position or layering amongst other windows.
  3. Share a whiteboarding application.
  4. Share a PowerPoint file in Presentation Mode (more on this feature later).

NOTE:  The application or file you want to share must be open before it will be selectable from this thumbnail list.  If you do not see the needed item, open the file or application, and return to this list for an update.

Sharing the Desktop

When you are sharing your Desktop, you see a red border surrounding the screen.

This is the view that shows everything you can see on your screen to your audience.

If I open a Word document and make the Word application full screen, it looks good to me on my giant display.

However, it is almost unreadable to my viewer on their smaller screen laptop or tablet.

Other types of files, like PowerPoint slides, may be acceptable due to their normally large fonts.

PowerPoint slides tend to be the exception, not the rule.

Imagine trying to read this Excel spreadsheet that someone is screen-sharing with you.

Even if the user were to zoom into the content portion of the spreadsheet, the Ribbon controls remain unreadable.

If you were training someone in the use of the application, they would have a difficult time seeing which buttons you are selecting.

Changing the Scaling of Your Display Settings

One way to combat the problem of “tiny screen” on the viewer’s display is to increase the scaling percentage in the Windows Display Settings.

To do this, right-click an empty portion of the Desktop and select Display Settings.

In the Scale and Layout section, experiment with larger percentage values in the “Change the size of the text, apps, and other items” control.

You may need to try several zoom factor percentages to strike a balance between readability and usability.

NOTE: Some applications will require a restart before the new scaling settings take place.

Using the Windows Magnifier

If you want to temporarily zoom into an area of the screen without altering your display settings, you can use the Windows Magnifier.

The Windows Magnifier can be activated by pressing the Windows-Plus key combination.

The screen will be enlarged to 200%.  Increases in the zoom factor can be achieved by repeated pressing of the WINDOWS-Plus keys.

You can scroll around the environment by moving the mouse to the edges of the screen.

To return to a normal zoom factor, press the Windows-Minus key combination.

NOTE: Try not to overuse this feature as it may induce seasickness in your audience.

Sharing an Application/Window

If you wish to restrict the audience’s view to a specific window, select the application from the Window section of thumbnails.

This will display the window in a full-screen mode on the viewer’s display even if the window is not full screen on your display.

Having your application’s window in a reduced-size window is another way to display the application in a zoomed state.  The smaller the window is, the more it must be enlarged to fill the viewer’s display.

Keep in mind, there is a practical limit to this trick.  At some point, the window becomes too small to be useful.  Experiment with various window sizes to see what works best.

Switching to a Different Window

Because you are sharing a single, specific window, if you switch to a different window, the viewers will continue to see your shared window even if the newly selected application’s window covers the shared window.  (World record for most times the word “window” was used in a single sentence.)

Minimizing the Shared Window

If you are sharing a single window, and you minimize that shared window, you will see a message in the lower-right informing you that your sharing session has been paused but will return upon restoration of the minimized window.

The viewers will continue to see a “frozen” version of the window as it appeared the moment it was minimized.

The Problem with Shared Windows

There is a slight downside to sharing a specific window.

Some applications that open secondary windows when certain features are activated will fail to display the secondary window.

The Conditional Formatting tool in Excel is a prime example of this issue.

Sharing a PowerPoint Presentation

Most user’s PowerPoint slides use larger than average font sizes (unless you’re one of those users that packs so much information into a slide that you turn the slide into an eye test.  Don’t be that person.)

It’s easy to read the slide in both normal view and presentation view.

Starting the Slide Show in Presentation Mode

If you don’t want your audience to see all your PowerPoint slides before the presentation, one trick is to start the presentation before you share the window.

With the presentation running, you can select the window for the Presentation View as the shared window.

Playing Embedded Videos

If your slides contain embedded videos, your audience will be able to see the videos as well.

BE ADVISED:  The sound of the embedded video is muted by default.  To have the system audio played with the embedded video, hover towards the top-center of the screen to display the presentation controls.  Toggle the “Include system audio” control to share the audio.

Using Presentation Annotations

One of the advantages of sharing a PowerPoint window is that you can utilize the in-built annotation tools located at the bottom-left of the presentation screen.

If you apply markups to the slide during the presentation, your audience can see those annotations as well.

Including System Audio

If you know that you will require the audio of your host computer to be audible on the viewer’s computer, you can toggle the “Include Computer Sound” option before sharing the Desktop or application.

Presenting a PowerPoint Show via Teams

Another option for sharing a PowerPoint presentation is by using the Teams application to broadcast your slideshow.

In the thumbnails area for items to share, we have a section labeled PowerPoint.

This displays a list of the most recently used PowerPoint files along with the ability to browse your local computer or OneDrive account for any other PowerPoint file.

By selecting a presentation from here, the Teams applications acts as a PowerPoint viewer for the audience.

This is how it looks to the presenter…

… and this is how it appears to the audience.

By default, the audience members can move forward and backward through the slides using the navigation buttons.

If you do not want the users to have this ability, you can toggle the feature to an OFF state and the navigation buttons will be deactivated.

Using this method of presentation provides a convenient way for other participants to take control and present.  It makes for easier collaboration.

NOTE:  Running presentations in this manner does not allow for the use of the annotation tools (seen earlier) or the playing of embedded media.

Be Mindful of Your Webcam

Always be aware that even if you are sharing your screen or displaying a presentation, your webcam will be displaying your video feed in a thumbnail.  Be mindful of your activities.

You can deactivate your webcam feed by toggling the video feature (upper-right).

To stop the presentation, click the “Stop Presenting” button.

Main Points

When sharing your screen while using Teams, remember these ideas:

  • When sharing your Desktop, adjust your screen resolution to ensure your audience can read your text.
  • Adjust the size of your shared window if you are sharing only a window to ensure your text is of a readable size.
  • Use the Share PowerPoint to take advantage of the broadcasting interface included in Teams.

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