What is Desktop Sharing?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2019
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Desktop sharing is an online technology that makes it possible to access the desktop of a computer from a remote location. In some applications, the access allows the user to gain control of the remote computer, making use of any of the resources that are housed on the hard drive. A slightly different application allows remote users to view the desktop and observe what is taking place, but not the ability to control the desktop itself.

Basic desktop sharing makes it possible for business travelers to make use of the Internet to reach and access a desktop computer back at the office. The process requires software that is loaded on the hard drive of the computer at the point of termination. By using a remote laptop or other computer to navigate to a specific web address that functions as an access portal, it is possible to use a set of login credentials to reach the desktop. From there, the user can get to any of the functions on the system, making it possible to retrieve documents, check email, and in general do anything that could be done if the user were actually sitting in front of the desktop system.


This type of multimedia communications has proven to be an extremely helpful business tool. Remote access makes it possible to retrieve sales presentations, spreadsheets, and other documents with ease. Along with viewing the documents, the remote user can also open an email program, attach the needed document, and forward it to any email address desired. In terms of allowing sales personnel and others who travel, this ability to retrieve documents from anywhere eliminates the expense associated with emergency courier services, while also allowing business professionals to function with greater ease while away from the office.

One common application of modern desktop sharing is found in web conferencing. Many web conference tools today allow the moderator of the conference to share his or her desktop with others who are attending the conference via the Internet. This helps to eliminate the need to upload various types of electronic documents to a server and have the attendees access and download those documents before the meeting. Since the attendees are viewing a remote desktop under the control of the moderator, it is not necessary that they have software that allows them to open those types of documents, a benefit that can be especially important in international business dealings.

With some desktop sharing tools, the moderator of a web conference also has the ability to allow remote collaboration by passing control of the desktop over to another conference attendee. This can be a benefit when several people at various geographic locations are working together on the text of a proposal or creating some type of presentation for an upcoming event. Tools of this type are usually configured so the moderator can regain control of the desktop when and as desired.

Today, there are free desktop sharing tools as well as fee-based programs. The free options tend to be somewhat limited in their functionality, while the fee-based programs offer a wide range of features that enhance the overall function of the tool. Many of the fee-based desktop sharing programs are extremely affordable, making it easy for individuals as well as businesses to make use of the tools.


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