Given the recent events caused due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we have seen a sharp rise in the number of people working from home. While this isn’t something that raises concern for some people, there are those who, due to the kind of job they are associated with, are required to attend meetings/conferences or stay connected with their teammates to catch up on the developments. To help these people make the most of their effort while they work remotely, some of the companies announced a free or discounted tier for their services during this period. Among these, Zoom — a remote conferencing service — saw a tremendous spike in its users, and became a preferred choice for video calls or conferencing meetings.
While there are various alternatives to Zoom, the plethora of features it offers puts it right on top of the list with some of the best remote conferencing tools. So, if you are a Zoom user, or you recently got started with it, here are some of the best Zoom tips and tricks to help you get the most of the service.
1. Use a virtual background
While you work from home and make video calls, one of the concerns you must have had at some point in time is to avoid people on call from seeing your disorganized room in the background. Well, fret not, as Zoom has you covered, thanks to a feature called Virtual Background. As its name suggests, you can use the feature to add an image or video as your virtual background. So now, before you get on a video call, select an image or video as your background.
To do this, open the Zoom app, tap on your profile icon, and go to Settings. On the Settings page, select Virtual Background from the options on the left pane. Now, choose a background from the available options, and you should see the changes take effect. Alternatively, you can hit the + icon next to Choose Virtual Background and add an image or video as your background. Moreover, if you have a green screen, you can check the checkbox for the same to get an even better background effect and also mirror your video.
2. Improve your appearance
Although you are working from home, you might still want to want to look your best. Luckily, there’s an option to do just that, called Touch up my appearance. Basically, it evens out the skin tone on your face to offer a better impression on video. To enable it, go to Settings and choose Video from the left pane. In the Video settings, tick the checkbox next to Touch up my appearance besides My Video settings.
3. Switch to the gallery view
When you get started with Zoom for the first time, the app has its default video layout set to ‘Active Speaker’, which, as its name suggests, shows the person currently talking in the main window. However, if you want, you can switch to the Gallery View to see all the participants on the conference call at the same time. For this, while you are on an ongoing call, click on Gallery View in the top-right of the screen.
4. Hide non-video participants on a call
While you can switch to Gallery View to view all the participants on a conference call, you could sometimes come across instances when some of the participants have their web cameras turned off. So, in such situations, if you have a large number of people on the call, you should certainly remove the non-video participants from the Gallery View to focus on others and have a decluttered Gallery View. To do this, go to Settings and select Video from the left pane. In the Video settings page, check the checkbox next to the option that says Hide non-video participants.
5. Mute audio and turn off the video before joining a meeting
Zoom, by default, has your audio and video stream turned on. Although this can come in handy if you take calls every-now-and-then, it does have a con, which is that the participant(s) on the other end of the call can see you or listen to your audio before you join a meeting. Therefore, we recommend muting audio and turning off video until you join a meeting. For this, go to Settings and select Audio. From here, mark the checkbox next to Mute my microphone when joining a meeting.
Similarly, in the Settings page, select Video and check the checkbox for Turn off my video when joining a meeting in the Meetings option.
6. Use space bar to mute/unmute while speaking
When you are on a conference call with a lot of participants, it can sometimes get difficult to hear what someone is trying to say. Although to avoid this, you can mute audio, as mentioned in the tip above, there is another handy feature for the same that allows you to mute/unmute audio using the space bar. For this, when you want to speak, press and hold the space bar to unmute the microphone and release it when done.
7. Use Snap Camera for video
For the uninitiated, Snap Camera is Snapchat’s equivalent for desktop, and it allows you to apply Lenses to your face while you do video calls or live streams [Snap Camera how-to guide]. Leveraging Zoom’s Snap Camera integration, you can capture feeds from Snap with filters applied on your face. To use this feature, first, download Snap Camera on your computer and set it up. Now, open Zoom, go to Settings and select Video. In the Video settings, tap on the drop-down menu next to Camera and select Snap Camera from the list.
8. Copy invitation link automatically
At times when you are hosting a conference meeting, you are required to generate a link and share it with the potential participants. The usual way is to start a meeting, hit invite to copy the invitation link, and then share it with the ones you want to join the meeting. However, Zoom has a quick way to do it, which automatically copies the invite link. Thus, saving you an extra step. To enable this, go to Settings and tap on General. Here, mark the checkbox that says Automatically copy invitation URL once the meeting starts.
9. Share a portion of the screen
Screen sharing is one of the most useful features on Zoom, which allows you to share your screen with other participants on the call. And, it can have different use cases like presentations, whiteboard meetings, teaching, etc. However, at times, you might not want the person on the other end to see the apps you have on your computer or view other confidential information. In which case, you can share only a portion of your screen, which limits their use to that particular window. To enable this, go to Settings and select Screen Share. Here, tap on the Advanced button at the bottom and check the checkbox new to Share select app window only. Now, when you share your screen with someone on call, you can select the portion of the screen you want to share.
10. Record meetings
If you happen to attend a lot of conference meetings that feature some crucial details, which you might need to revisit later, or maybe just want to maintain a record of, you can record these meetings. However, with the free plan, you get the option to save recordings locally on your computer, while the premium gives the option to save them to the cloud, making them easily accessible from anywhere. Moreover, you can also transcribe audio while you record meetings to the cloud. To record a meeting, simply tap on the Record button at the bottom, and it will start recording your meeting. You can then head over to the Documents to view your recorded meetings.
11. Waiting Room
While meetings require an invitation link for anyone to be able to join, recent events caused some havoc when hackers managed to get into random meetings. Thankfully, there is an option in Zoom the allows you to protect your meetings from getting taken over by unauthorized users (or hackers, in most cases). For this, all you need to do is enable the Waiting Room option, which can be done by going into Zoom Profile Settings (on the web, here), and toggling the button next to Waiting Room.
12. Use nifty keyboard shortcuts
Last, but certainly not the least, Zoom comes with a bunch of shortcuts to allow you to perform quick actions like joining a meeting, start/stop a video, push to talk, and more. So here are some of the keyboard shortcuts for the most used features and operations.
- Screenshot: Command + T or Alt + Shift + T
- Join Meeting: Command + J
- Start Meeting: Command + Control + V
- Schedule Meeting: Command + J
- Leave Meeting: Command + W
- Mute/unmute audio: Command + Shift + A or Alt + A
- Push to talk: Space
- Start/stop video: Command + Shift + V or Alt + V
- Start/stop screen share: Command + Shift + S or Alt + Shift + S
- Pause/resume screen share: Command + Shift + T or Alt + T
- Start/stop local recording: Command + Shift + R or Alt + R
- Start/stop cloud recording: Command + Shift + C or Alt + C
- Enter/exit full screen: Command + Shift + F or Alt + F
You can learn more keyboard shortcuts here.
Using the above tips and tricks, you should be able to use Zoom more efficiently with access to more advanced functionalities and other customization options.