Screen recording is an important tool for sharing what is on our smartphones. If you want to send your friends and family an indivisible video you are watching, or a nice trick you discovered on your phone, screen recording is one way to do that. Messenger, Facebook’s standalone chat app, simplifies the experience by implementing live screen shares directly in video calls.
If you’re wondering why you never knew about Messenger’s screen sharing feature before, it’s probably because it’s fairly new. Facebook made the feature official on July 16, 2020, but it was actually available earlier than that, at least since Messenger Rooms appeared. But the older version was a different form, and not everyone could see and use it.
In the July 16 update, screen sharing is better everywhere. And you can take advantage of the feature in a one-on-one conversation, a group conversation with up to eight people or a Messenger room with up to 16 people.
Start your screen sharing
Facebook makes it easy to share your screen with a friend when you know what to do. You will not find the option in your regular Messenger chat because it is a video chat feature. This means you need to start a video chat with a friend or group before you can share your screen.
When in a video chat, swipe up on the motherboard and tap “Share your screen.” (In the older version, there was only one screen split button at the top of the screen.)
The first time you share the screen, a pop-up window appears that provides a quick summary of the feature. To continue, click “Start Sharing” (iOS) or “Continue” (Android).
You are not ready to share the screen yet. Before it starts, you will get a new pop-up that warns you about it all on your screen will be shared. Tap “Start Broadcast” (iOS) or “Start now” (Android) to continue. If you have an iPhone, you get a three-second countdown to cancel the broadcast or prepare it, just like for regular screen recordings. On Android, it starts broadcasting immediately.
When screen sharing is initiated, the screen is not yet shared, believe it or not. Messenger does not share your screen with the rest of the video until you have left the transmission controls and The Messenger app itself. The others will see your video feed cut off with a note that they are moments away from sharing.
On iOS, tap “Stop sending” if you change your mind or click on the background Screen Broadcast window then exit the Messenger app to start sharing. On Android, tap “Stop Sharing” to quit before starting or quitting Messenger to share. Remember that when you shared it all you do appears on the other side.
Stop your screen sharing
You have some ways to stop sharing your screen on both iOS and Android. Just be aware that as soon as you stop sharing the screen, the camera will stream your video stream immediately (in most cases), so do not leave.
On both platforms, you have an option to stop recording immediately, before the other party even has a chance to see your screen. Click “Stop Sending” (iOS) or “Stop Sharing” (Android) immediately after pressing the “Start” button. It then switches back to your camera.
If you return to the video chat in Messenger, you will also see a “Stop” button on the video feed. Press it to also stop sending. It then switches back to your camera.
On iOS, you can also stop screen sharing anywhere. To do so, tap the red oval at the top left (on Face ID models) or the red bar status bar (on Touch ID models) and then tap “Stop” in the pop-up window. On Android, you can drag down the message tray and then tap “Stop Screen Sharing” in the Messenger bar (tap the chevron at the top right if you don’t see the button right away).
Your camera flow starts again directly on Android, but on iOS it only works when you are in the Messenger app.
Although this feature is amazing, it does not break any new ground. Screen sharing has been around for a long time. In fact, Skype had the capacity long, long before Facebook. We still welcome the feature in Messenger at the same time.
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