Sharing Screens on Zoom

When you’re the host (or when the host has enabled the participants to do so), you can share your screen with other people in the meeting. You can share anything that’s on your screen, whether that’s a webpage you’re looking at, an online game you’re playing, a photo in your camera roll, an online game, or a PowerPoint. You can also share what’s on the screen of your iPhone or iPad. Or share a white board that you can draw on, and that others can annotate (if you enable that).

How to Share

To share a screen, go to the command bar at the bottom of the screen, and choose the green button for share screen. It will pop up a window, like this:


Choose the thing you want to share – say the word document on the bottom right, then double click on it, and it will begin sharing.

To share a PowerPoint: BEFORE it’s time to share, go to your PowerPoint and start the slide show from the beginning. When it’s time to share, press the share button, then choose the slide show image (the second from the left in that picture above), NOT the PowerPoint slide show where you’d go to edit the PowerPoint (third from left).

To share a video: You could show a video off of YouTube  directly. Personally I really prefer to download it and to embed it in a PowerPoint slide show where I can “trim it” to have it set up just right. (Learn more about optimizing PowerPoint for Zoom.) When you share a video, it’s SUPER important to click those two boxes in the bottom of the share window (see above image) where it says share computer sound (that means they’ll hear the sound from the video not just than the sound from your mic), and optimize screen sharing for video clip. If you click that second box, the video will look SO much better, with less stuttering and stalling than if you forget to click it. share video

While Sharing

You’ll know it worked if up near the top, there’s a green box that says “you are screen sharing” next to a red box that says “stop share.” That black command bar will disappear while sharing (you can always bring it back by bringing your mouse over the green bar), but the red and green should be there the whole time you’re sharing. When you’re ready to stop sharing, click on the red box.


From that command bar (including the “more” menu with the three dots), you can access most of the Zoom commands. For example, if you forgot to click to share computer sound before sharing, you can do it from here. If you can’t see your participants while screen sharing, look in the more menu, and choose “show video panel.”

Quality Sharing Experience

If you’ve spent much time in Zoom meetings, you’ve probably seen a lot of sharing failures – people choosing the wrong screen, the video lagging, and so on. Here’s all my tips for improving the experience for your participants:

Prepping your Materials

I usually gather everything I plan to share (slides, video, audio, images, screen captures of internet sites) all in one PowerPoint that’s set up exactly as I want it, and I don’t have to figure out lots of different things mid-meeting. (Learn more about optimizing PowerPoint for Zoom.)

Get your best internet connection

If you want your video to look as good as it possibly can, it is ESSENTIAL that you have the best internet connection you can get. So, if you can, plug your computer directly into your router with an ethernet cable rather than using wifi. Or move your computer to whatever place in your house has the strongest wifi signal. Want to know how strong your signal is / how fast your connection is? Go to and it will test your speed. I find 10 Mbps and up works well for video with no interruptions. If you have multiple co-hosts, plan to have the co-host with the best internet signal share the video.

Use a Second Screen if at all possible

If you’re just using one screen, where you have the toolbar floating at the top, your meeting participants MAY see a gray box covering what you’re sharing. Or if you pull up the chat window, or get notifications that someone is in the waiting room, all of those MAY create grayed-out boxes for your participants, like in this sample from my robot class. (Oops.)


If you want to be sure how something looks to a meeting participant, test it with a friend or with a second device and see if you have this issue.

The way I’ve found to avoid this is to have a second monitor or a projector. You show the slideshow on your second screen, and control it on your main screen. When you share the slideshow, be sure to share IT (called “screen 2”), not your controlling screen. Note: If you’re using an “extended screen”, sometimes the command bar for Zoom will appear on top of the slide show – just drag the command bar over to your main screen.

If you don’t have a second screen, but you do have a projector, you can project the slide show and share that image. If neither of these are options for you, just try to keep your screen as uncluttered as possible when sharing – don’t look at chat, turn off notifications, and so on so you have as few gray boxes as possible.

Before the Meeting

Just prior to the meeting, try to close down as many other things on your computer as possible. Close your open documents and spreadsheets, close your internet tabs, your social media apps… the less things you have running, the better. This ensures 1) your computer isn’t spending energy processing all that, which could slow down your presentation, 2) it makes you easier to find the one thing you want to sure and 3) it makes it less likely you’ll accidentally share something you didn’t mean to share.

During the Meeting

So many people share the view of PowerPoint that is designed for editing your slide show rather than presenting the actual slide show, which is a much less cluttered view. So, I recommend you start your slide show from the beginning (or wherever you want to start from). Then go to the Zoom meeting. (Note: after you start your slide show, on many computers, you’ll lose your task bar at the bottom which shows your other programs, so it can be hard to figure out how to get back to Zoom. On a Windows PC, just click on the windows button, and the task bar appears. Go to Zoom and your meeting. On a Mac, you click on command and tab.)

During the meeting, when it’s time to share, choose “share screen” and a window like this will pop up. Select the “PowerPoint slide show” (bottom left) not the “welcome to PowerPoint.” If you will be playing audio or video that you want the participants to hear, you MUST choose “share computer sound” in the bottom left. If you will be showing a video, then choose “optimize… for video clip.” then click share.

share screen

Sharing the Whiteboard

When you choose share screen, you may notice you can also share a whiteboard. (See picture above.) This brings up a drawing pad and these controls.

annotation tools

If you choose text, and then click somewhere on the screen, it starts a text box you can type into. Or, under draw, choose the squiggle line to free draw or choose the specific shape you want to draw. (Read more about annotation tools.)

You can also choose to allow participants to annotate your screen shares (white board or any screen share). This can be a very helpful tool for collaborative meetings, and a great way to engage students in classes, but you may NOT want to enable this if you’re teaching middle schoolers or others who may be prone to writing disruptive things on a screen. (In the screen share settings under “more” you can enable participant annotation.)

Sharing your iPhone

You can also choose to share the screen of your iPhone or iPad. Choose “share screen” and then just click on the IOS option. (The first time you do this, it will ask you to install a plug-in. Agree to do so.) It will then ask you to go to your phone, swipe to access the control center and choose “mirror screen”, then choose Zoom. (More info here.) Once you’ve done this, it will share whatever is on your screen. If you don’t want people to see all the clutter on your screen where you’re getting it to where you want it to be, you can pause screen share, make sure you’re all ready, then resume screen share.

I know teachers who share photos from their iPad. I used it at a singalong, where people could request a song from a book, I’d take a picture of the lyrics and share those. I’ve used it in a class to show a good view of a craft demonstration. (Although I prefer to just log my phone in as a separate Zoom participant and show the camera that way, by spotlighting it as a “participant.”)

More about sharing screens.

Learn More

To learn more about how to use Zoom, check out the articles in my Zoom Guide.

  • Zoom Basics (how to join a meeting, mute / unmute, chat, raise hand)
  • Becoming a more skilled Zoom participant (gallery view vs. speaker view, changing your name, looking better, sounding better, and finding a better signal so your calls don’t freeze)
  • Hosting a Meeting (starting a meeting, inviting people, scheduling a meeting, security issues to reduce Zoom bombings, muting, recording, and the basics of sharing screens)
  • Advanced Meeting Management (spotlight, breakout rooms, co-hosts)
  • Optimizing PowerPoint for use on Zoom – you can place all the audio, video, and images you need all in one PowerPoint to help your meetings go more smoothly.
  • Games and Interaction on Zoom – lots of ideas from charades to Pictionary to polls and quizzes and
  • Music on Zoom: playing recordings, live music or leading songs
  • Young Children and Zoom – tips for how to help teachers and grandparents connect with kids online and how to help children connect with others – includes lots of suggested interactive activities
  • Screen “hygiene” for prolonged use – reduce Zoom fatigue