This is part of a biweekly series on tools, resources and apps to help PR and media professionals be more productive and effective.
Screenleap is a free online service that enables users to share their desktop or laptop computer screens with anyone, no major software installation or registration required. The company also recently released a browser extension that allows Gmail users to easily share their screens with others from the comfort of their inboxes. Screenleap is a simple tool to help you collaborate with others, or to just get some quick tech help without fussing about having the right software installed on your computer.
The only requirement for using Screenleap is downloading Java, which is painless. Once you have Java installed on your computer, you have two options for sharing your screen with others:
1) Go to Screenleap.com and clicks on the green "Share your screen now" button on the home page or any other page on the website to instantly share your screen. (If it's your first time using Screenleap, you will have to allow Java to run Screenleap.) You'll be taken to a screen that confirms that "Your screen is visible." Below that, you'll see a link to send to anyone you want to share your screen with, or a nine-digit code to send to others. The code can be input on Screenleap.com to access your shared screen. You can also send a link via email or text message. A small pop-up window will also appear, giving you the option of sharing your entire screen or just the part of your screen inside a green, movable rectangle. Sharing can be paused and stopped from that window.
2) You can download the Screenleap browser extension for Gmail (available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari). After the installation, you'll see a green "Share Screen" button just below the "Compose" button in your Gmail window. Pressing this will bring up the pop-up window that indicates sharing has begun. An "Invite Viewers" button will now be visible underneath the "Compose" button in Gmail. Pressing this will bring up a ready-to-send email with a link to your shared screen in the body. You can also open up a chat window within Gmail and click on the green screen icon to begin sharing your screen with that particular contact.
To view someone else's screen, you can enter in a share code on Screenleap.com and click on "Join a screen share." You can also simply click on a Screenleap link that someone sends you. Screenleap allows users to view shared screens on desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets and smartphones.
While an account isn't required to use Screenleap, signing up for one allows you to claim your own Screenleap handle, which is included in a permanent URL that you can send to friends. With an account, you can also make a list of "Friends" with whom you most frequently share your screen, which makes it easier to initiate a shared screen with them. Having an account also allows you to share and view screens without links or share codes.
Screenleap says the basic version of its service will always be free, but that a Pro version will give users access to premium features. Recording and audio/voice features are also in the works.
Whether you're a reporter collaborating on a story, a PR pro who wants to share a quick presentation or a Gmail user in need of a quick way to share your screen, Screenleap is a simple and free tool at your disposal.
Another tool for reporters is ProfNet, a service of PR Newswire, has helped journalists and experts connect since 1992. Writers can search the ProfNet Connect database of more than 50,000 profiles; send a ProfNet query by email to thousands of subscribers around the globe; or get timely experts and story ideas by email.