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Does chat include a screenshare or cobrowse feature?

2531 views   |   Last updated on Mar 19, 2020   


During a chat, you can view the guest's screen in real-time when the guest is in a supported web browser (see the "Screensharing Limitations" section below) and if the chat box is https. The guest needs to explicitly grant permissions on their side to allow you to view their screen through a series of deliberate actions in the browser. At no time can the guest view your screen and the guest cannot initiate screensharing.

Screensharing is part of the Sharing Tool and works in tandem with snapshots.  At any time while viewing the guest's screen, you can grab a snapshot of the screen, take it into the snapshot editor to crop and/or mark it up, and then send the revised version back to the guest.  You can literally indicate, please click HERE!  Because sometimes a picture can be worth a thousand words.

Neither the guest nor the operator is required to download anything special (like extensions or plugins) to use the Sharing Tool. All that is needed is a modern web browser. However if there are extensions/plugins installed in the browser used by either the operator or the guest that impact WebRTC or that are designed to hide your IP (IP leak tools), that will definitely prevent screensharing success since native browser screensharing relies on WebRTC which needs to know the IP address of both operator and guest.  Some examples of such extensions/plugins are uBlock Origin, WebRTC Leak Prevent, WebRTC Control, Easy WebRTC Block, and WebRTC Leak Checker.

Inviting the Guest to Share their Screen

Screensharing is kicked off with an invite to the guest, which you can customize to suit.

screenshot of default screensharing invitation to the guest

  • If the guest is using an embedded chat box on a web page, then there will be a pop-up launched which in turn asks the guest to screenshare.  The pop-up is required for embedded chat boxes since screensharing permission cannot be requested by a page (the chat box) within a page (the web page containing the chat box).  If the guest has a pop-up blocker installed, the invitation will fail and the operator notified that a pop-up blocker prevented the invitation from being successful.  On the guest's side, they will have the opportunity to allow pop-ups from LibraryH3lp.  Once pop-ups are (always) allowed, the operator can resend the screensharing invitation without interference from the pop-up blocker.
  • If the guest is using a pop-up or follow-me chat box, then pop-up blockers will NOT interfere with screensharing invitations.


The guest receives the invitation and then has to explicitly allow you to access to their screen.  There is absolutely no way you can spy on a guest without explicit permission (and a sequence several deliberate mouse clicks to grant that permission) from the guest.  And you cannot accidentally initiate screensharing because it has taken a sequence of several deliberate mouse clicks to get to this point.

Here's what a guest in Firefox will see when granting permission to share their screen:

screenshot of what a guest using Firefox sees to grant permission to screenshare

Here's what a guest will see in Chrome when granting permission to share their screen:

Taking Snapshots during Screensharing

With the toolbar above your view of the guest's screen, you can zoom, take snapshots of the guest's screen, or end screensharing.  When you take snapshots of the guest's screen, you can mark them up and send them to the guest.  Learn more about snapshots.


Screensharing Limitations

Networks and Networking

  • Same internal network or proxy server
    We've seen screensharing fail when both operator and guest are on the same network or behind the same proxy, presumably because individual computer IPs are not getting resolved properly for some internal reason. Reasons vary, so it is best to check with local IT about anything affecting WebRTC or the visibility of the IP address.
  • VPNs
    Screensharing will not work if either the operator or the guest is using a VPN.  This is because WebRTC needs to know the IP address for both parties and VPNs hide your IP address.
  • Mobile Hot Spots
    Screensharing will not work on mobile hotspots if your IP is hidden by an IP leak tool.
  • Firewalls
    Screensharing will not work if there is a firewall that is configured to prevent IP leaks on either the operator or guest side.



And we would love to tell you that screensharing works in any web browser.  But we simply cannot do that yet reliably given the current state of web browser technology.  Screensharing relies on new kinds of APIs recently built into some modern web browsers.

So when should screensharing work? 

  • The guest has to be using Chrome 72+ or Firefox. The guest also needs to be using a secure (https) chat box, but chances are pretty good that your chat boxes are all https by now.
  • The operator (you) has to be using Chrome 72+, Firefox, or Safari.

We expect to support Edge for both guest and operator once it becomes Chromium-compatible.

Safari probably will support screensharing on the guest's side. Eventually. Someday.

Internet Explorer 11 will never support screensharing.  As Dr. McCoy would say, "He's dead, Jim."


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