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Browsers have built-in capabilities to share your screen with remote users, e.g. on a web conference, but typically you have to choose between sharing one window and sharing your entire screen.

  • Sharing one window sometimes is inconvenient if you want the viewer to see 2 or more windows. Switching back and forth is tedious.
  • Sharing the whole screen doesn't work great if your screen resolution is much larger than the viewer's: for example my screen resolution is 3440x1440, but a viewer with a laptop might have a resolution of 1920x1080. As a result, text that is readable on my end is way too small for the viewer (especially with compression artifacts).

I'm curious if anybody has some clever workaround for Ubuntu? I'll post my own answer below but I'm sure other people have better ideas.

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The best approach I've found so far is to use VLC to capture a portion of the screen, then share the VLC window.

First, run VLC:

$ vlc --no-video-deco \
      --no-embedded-video \
      --screen-fps=20 \
      --screen-top=32 \
      --screen-left=85 \
      --screen-width=1120 \
      --screen-height=740 \
      screen://

This will set up to capture a portion of the screen. The top and left are set in from the corner of the screen so that the dock and top bar aren't included—you'll have to customize these for your own setup.

Now move & resize whatever windows you want to share so that they are in the capture area, then in your web browser select the VLC window to share.

There are a few drawbacks:

  • Tedious to fine tune the VLC capture area to match your setup.
  • Tedious to move and resize windows each time you want to share.
  • If you minimize the VLC window, it won't be available as an option to share. If the VLC window overlaps the capture area, it will result in a "hall of mirrors" effect. I move the VLC window to the bottom of the screen so that only its title bar is still visible.

I would love to hear about better solutions.

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