[UPDATE: See this more recent post on Join.Me’s newest features.]
Let’s say that you’re working with a few colleagues on a project. They’re scattered across campus (or the country). It may be easier if everyone is looking at the same screen as you review or edit a document, or take notes on the meeting, or debate the value of some webpage. Join.me is a free and easy way to do that. You connect to Join.me. Then give your colleagues the URL you’re given. When they follow it, they see your desktop. Live. It’s as simple as that.
When I connect to Join.me, here is the toolbar I get. At the very top is a URL. That’s the URL that will connect to my computer, but only as long as I’m connected for that session. If you went to that URL now, you’d get an “invalid code” error on the Join.me website. Every time you start a new session, you get a new code.
For communication, you have a few options.
Phone: You can call each other. You can use your own conference call setup. Or you can use Join.me’s built-in conference call system. Clicking the phone icon (same for those connected to your desktop), you get a phone number to call (long distance charges apply, but that’s between you and your carrier; Skype works just fine). The access code to join the call is the same code assigned to your URL. [If you decide to use your own conference call number, you can change the information in Join.me so that your conference call information is given when participants click the phone icon. Check the Join.me conference call page in their FAQ for more information.]
Chat: There’s a built in chat window. If you have it closed, you’ll get a popup when a new chat entry is made. I wouldn’t want to have an entire meeting using chat, but it’s a helpful addition to a phone call.
The pause button freezes your screen for everyone else while you do stuff you don’t want them to see. Hit it again to go live.
The person icon shows you who all is viewing your desktop. Each person comes in as “Viewer #,” except for you. You’re “Presenter.” Participants and presenter can click the person icon, then click on the top viewer (that’s them) to change their name to something more descriptive, like “Bob.” You can have up to 250 participants. I think that’s more than sufficient. That’s a lot of Bobs.
The mouse icon, when other participants are present, lets you give control of your desktop to a participant in the room. For example, if you’re editing a document, and someone has a clear idea of how to word something, give them control of your desktop and just let them do it.
If someone is ticking you off, kick them out. Click the person icon and click the x next to their name.
Limitations: Any sounds you play on your computer cannot be heard by anyone else. If sounds were essential, you could play it over the phone, I suppose.
This isn’t a comprehensive list of features, but it’s enough to get you started! Happy sharing!