Cobrowsing vs screen sharing: what's the difference?

Cobrowsing vs screen sharing: what's the difference?

Customer support has evolved from call centers to collaborative problem-solving using real-time solutions like cobrowsing and screen sharing. With more and more companies using these cutting-edge technologies in their customer support workflows, it’s important to dive into the differences between them and the situations in which you’d want to use one or the other — or both collaboratively. 

When does it make sense for a customer support agent to hop on a call and cobrowse with a user? How should you make use of cobrowsing to create better onboarding experiences? And how does screen sharing come into the picture? Read on to find out. 

What is cobrowsing?

We’ve already covered this topic in greater detail elsewhere, but here’s a quick refresh: cobrowsing (which stands for collaborative browsing) refers to a video conferencing feature that allows you and your user to browse the same screen while on a call together. It allows you to: 

  • Browse a website or web app together with a user
  • See what your user is seeing in real-time 
  • Use an independent cursor to point at sections 
  • Use a highlighter to highlight important sections when necessary 
  • Draw on a user’s screen 
  • Click buttons on your user’s screen 
  • Submit forms on behalf of your user

Fullview’s cobrowsing feature is based on a technology known as rrWeb, which means that your users will not have to go through the additional step of choosing which tab they want to cobrowse in when you are on a call with them. Rather, cobrowsing starts immediately upon clicking that option on a call, but is limited to only the tab that has your app open. That means you’ll only be able to cobrowse with a user within your own app and will not have access to other windows, screens or tabs. In this way, Fullview has made the cobrowsing process much more seamless while still protecting user privacy and GDPR compliance. 

Cobrowsing is one of the best ways to collaborate with your users and helps customer support agents get the right context without having to decipher long email chains, screenshots or chat messages. It’s best suited to: 

  • Situations that require a user and agent to problem-solve in real time by making use of drawing and highlighting tools. 
  • Creating seamless onboarding experiences where an agent can submit forms on behalf of a user or complete tricky implementation. 
  • Solving technical support tickets so an agent can see exactly what issue or bug a user is encountering. 
  • Speeding up time to resolution on tickets that would otherwise take a long time to solve and frustrate users in the process — especially those that are less technically-savvy or newer. 
Fullview's cobrowsing starts immediately upon clicking that option on a call, but is limited to the tab that has your app open. This means you’ll only be able to cobrowse with a user within your own app and will not have access to other windows, screens or tabs.

What is screen sharing? 

Unlike cobrowsing (where agents can collaboratively browse with their users and have access to features such as multiplayer screen control and tools for drawing) screen sharing is a much more one-sided process. 

In fact, you’ve probably already experienced it if you’ve ever attended a meeting or presentation online. When someone is sharing their screen with you, there’s only one cursor present and you cannot collaboratively browse with them by clicking buttons, navigating with an independent cursor or drawing/highlighting. In other words, you have no control over what happens on their screen. 

With screen share, you are limited to: 

  • Seeing what a user is presenting on their screen 
  • Watching them navigate around the screen 
  • Listening to them verbally explain what to do, or having to verbally explain something for them to follow

Things you can't do during screen sharing: 

  • Move a cursor around their screen
  • Fill in forms or text fields
  • Press buttons or navigate
  • Draw on their screen
  • Highlight on their screen

Fullview's cobrowsing and screen sharing

Fullview's cobrowsing UI
Fullview's cobrowsing feature has multiplayer screen control.

Fullview is an end-to-end solution for customer support and product teams, so we want to offer our users the best of both worlds when it comes to cobrowsing and screen sharing. Why choose one when you can have both working seamlessly in tandem? Let us explain exactly what we mean by that: 

Since Fullview's cobrowsing starts immediately, without the extra step of a user choosing which tab, screen or window to cobrowse in, it is strictly limited to use within your own app. In other words, you will not be able to cobrowse on other apps or websites with your users. This is to protect user privacy while making the cobrowsing experience as seamless as possible.

However, there are situations in which you and your users might have to browse pertinent information on other websites or apps. For example, let's say you're a personal banking advisor and you need a client to show you some tax information. This is the kind of situation in which you'll need to switch from Fullview's cobrowsing feature to Fullview's screen sharing option (which you can do seamlessly on the same call).

Once you've switched, users can share any tab, screen or window they want. You won't be able to cobrowse with them (meaning no multi-cursor screen control and no drawing feature) but you will be able to see what they want to show you.

Cobrowse vs screen share: side-by-side

Key takeaway

While cobrowsing and screen sharing are similar at first glance, they have some key differences. Cobrowsing is a much more collaborative process, so it’s perfect for SaaS companies who want to create the best onboarding and support experiences for their users by filling onboarding forms, drawing on a user’s screen or highlighting something important. On the other hand, screen sharing is a less collaborative process, so it’s best for tasks that are simpler. But it would be a mistake to think of them in isolation; Fullview’s cobrowsing and screen sharing features were designed to complement each other and are both essential to creating great customer experiences, although they contribute to that in different ways. 


Shifa Rahaman

Content Marketing Manager