How to Easily Display Documents With Your Laptop’s Webcam

Teachers create the best tricks. Full stop. There are no arguments. Their clever ways of managing the number of children they watch and bypassing the limitations of old equipment that is often not well maintained are always surprising and delightful to me. And today’s trending document sharing trick via video chats is no different, but you don’t need to be a teacher to appreciate it.

Here’s the script. Let’s say you want to show people in a Zoom chat a document you’re working on. It doesn’t matter if you highlight multiplication tables or showcase your Dungeons & Dragons character sheet. What’s really important is that it’s awkward to hold it in front of your laptop’s webcam and then fiddling with settings to mirror the image so it’s really readable is a big butt problem.

Try this approach instead. Find a CD – you probably have an old DVD that you haven’t watched in nine years and is gathering dust on the shelf of your entertainment center – and a pen or pencil. Glue a pen or pencil to the back of your laptop, and then place your CD or DVD with the reflective side down on it. You may have to tinker with the angle a bit, but you should be able to get the content of the document shortly by sitting in front of the laptop (on the keys) within the reflection that your camera will pick up, for example, like this:

I tried this and I only have one add-on. The angle of the CD / DVD you are using is critical for this to work, and you may not have any luck with just placing the CD on your pencil. Don’t use the CDs or DVDs that you really want, because you’ll probably want to add a little extra tape at the top or bottom to provide the exact angle you need to make the reflection look good.

Otherwise, this hack completely works. You will get strange looks from your roommates and / or loved ones, but never let this get in the way of your productivity. They are just jealous of your insane abilities.


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