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How to share the screen without revealing private information

How to share the screen without revealing private information

Create a service-only user account

Following the global coronavirus, many people are working from home for the first time. If you are one of them, you may need to use your home computer.

On your home computer, you probably won’t think about the desktop background, what apps you’re running all the time, or the notifications you receive.

However, the easiest way to maintain your privacy and switch to «work mode» on a personal computer is to create a new user account that you can only use for the service. The steps to do this differ depending on the operating system that your computer is running.

Follow these steps to create a new user account in Windows 10:

  1. Press Windows + I to open the «Settings» application.
  2. Click «Accounts» and then select «Family and others» from the list.
  3. Click «Add someone else to this computer,» and then follow the setup procedure.

Follow these steps to create a new macOS user account:

  1. Launch «System Preferences» from the dock or look for it with Spotlight.
  2. Click ‘Users and groups,’ click the lock icon in the lower left corner, and then enter your administrator password.
  3. Click the plus sign (+) in the lower left corner and follow the setup procedure.

When your new account is set up, you can log out or change your accounts as you normally would. When you first sign in, you must authorize email accounts, Slack connections, or other services. Resist the need to add personal accounts.

By doing so, you ensure that personal information is not disclosed during a video call. Also, eliminate personal distractions, such as messages from friends and Twitter notifications, to help you do more work. Take regular breaks and switch to your personal account when needed.

Don’t want to create a completely new account? You can still avoid embarrassment by following a few simple tips.

Share only certain application windows

Video conferencing allows you to talk face-to-face with colleagues and, in most cases, share your screen. This is useful when someone is giving a presentation, discussing numbers on a spreadsheet, or simply clashing over ideas on a whiteboard or mind map.

Most video conferencing applications allow you to share your entire desktop or an individual window. While it can be tempting to share your desktop easily, just sharing the window that your colleagues need to see is a better idea.

Specify which window to share in Google Hangouts

How to do this depends on video conferencing service you use. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid any resemblance to «Desktop Sharing» in favor of something like «Window Sharing.» Some applications (such as Google Hangouts Meet ) will ask you to choose whether you want to share the window or the full screen.

No matter what you use to keep in touch with your experienced colleagues, experiment with it so that you can master your screen-sharing skills before you need to use them.

Use boring wallpaper

Would you like your Adventure Time wallpaper to appear in the middle of a presentation or meeting? While some of you may have a boss who is «completely cool like that», others probably aren’t.

If you need to maintain an air of professionalism while using a screen-sharing app, consider switching to a boring wallpaper. It’s up to you, but think about how your customers, colleagues, or boss would respond if they saw your current wallpaper.

The basic macOS Catalina wallpaper of a rocky island surrounded by the sea.

You can set only one solid color or use any of the wallpapers for MacOS or Windows. And it’s easy Search for interesting wallpapers on Google.

Clean your browser

Your browser may reveal a lot of personal information. Most of us tend to have multiple tabs open at the same time. There is usually a bookmark bar for quick navigation and a few extensions at the top.

The easiest way to separate your work browsing sessions from your personal ones is to use separate browsers. The most common keyboard shortcuts works in most browsersSo feel free to choose and use Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge or something else.

Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Edge logos.

On Chromium Yes Firefox, you can use alternate profiles. All your personal tabs will be safe under one profile while you work on the other. However, since you can have both open at the same time, make sure you always close your personal profile to avoid accidents.

If all this seems too big for you, you can simply delete your personal tabs. You can use a browser session extension (such as Session Buddy for Chrome ) to save everything before closing it.

If you plan to use your personal browser for the service, you may also have some revealing bookmarks displayed in the bookmarks bar. To hide your bookmarks in most browsers, click ‘View’ and then select ‘Hide bookmarks’ or ‘Hide bookmarks bar’ (the name of the setting depends on your browser).

also maybe clear your browser history if you are worried about autocompletion.

Disable unnecessary notifications

Even if you share a single window (especially if it takes up your entire screen), you may be the victim of an embarrassing pop-up notification. The last thing you want your co-workers to see is a curse message from a friend or «excessive involvement» from your husband.

The "Today" menu in macOS.

To resolve this, you can silence all notifications, but remember to always do so before your conference. Both macOS and Windows 10 have an option for this.

Follow these steps to turn off notifications on macOS:

  1. Swipe right with your two fingers on the trackpad, or click the icon in the upper-right corner of the screen to open the «Notification Center» (or «Today»).
  2. Scroll up and activate the «Do Not Disturb» option.

Follow these steps to reduce notifications in Windows 10:

  1. Press Windows + A, or click the Action Center icon at the bottom right of the screen to open the «Action Center.»
  2. Click ‘Silent hours’ or ‘Focus assistance’ to reduce notifications.

You can also turn off app-based notifications if it’s more convenient for you. Don’t forget to restart them later if you need them. On the windows, you can navigate to System> Notifications and Actions to do this; on a Mac, go to System Preferences> Notifications.

Hide unnecessary applications

You can let Steam run to update your games or browse the catalog at any time. However, your boss may not be as understanding when he sees that icon jumping off the dock or taskbar during business hours.

The "Exit" option from Steam on macOS.

Before you start working (or at least before starting a video call or screen sharing session), make sure you close or hide unnecessary applications.

The following are some of the applications you may want to hide during workload:

  • Game Stores: Steam, Epic Game Store, GOG Galaxy, EA Origin, Uplay, Xbox (Windows 10) etc.
  • Streaming services: Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO / NOW etc.
  • File sharing applications: Transmission, uTorrent, Vuze, Deluge, qBittorrent etc.
  • Personal accounts: e-mail applications, diaries, private notes, photos, etc.

In short, it’s a good idea to hide anything you shouldn’t be doing while you should be working!

Disconnect from messaging services

Disconnecting from messaging services may be easier than the need to constantly turn off or turn on notifications. You may also find that this helps you focus more on your work. Even if you turn off notifications, you can waste hours sending messages to people; it’s much harder to do if you have to log in first.

Click "Disconnect" in the iMessage menu on a Mac.

The two most common applications are Messages for Mac and Hangouts for Android on Mac or Windows. Each of these applications can reflect text messages on your mobile device, whether they are business or personal contacts. If you prefer to leave text messages on your phone, simply disconnect from the program on your computer.

However, make sure you keep apps that would be vital to working, such as Slack, Skype or WhatsApp. If you create a separate work account on your computer, this is easier because you won’t be connecting to any non-essential messaging clients.

Leave personal stuff on your mobile device

Since your mobile device is probably rarely on your side and you can charge it while you work, why not leave all your personal belongings on your phone or iPad? That means you won’t share the screen with them, of course.

Instead of opening a new tab to find the lyrics of the song being played, search for it on your phone. Don’t launch reminders on your computer to add spaghetti to your shopping list; let Siri manage it on your iPhone. Wondering what the weather will be like for your next camping trip? «Okay Google, what will the weather be like in the Blue Mountains next week?» it’s probably faster anyway. Send private messages and chat on your phone instead of your computer.

If you haven’t been embarrassed in front of 50 colleagues on a video call yet, consider yourself lucky. Most of the remote workers have had this uncomfortable experience before. However, if you follow these tips, they can at least help you maintain an appearance of professionalism!

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