Zoom, a video conferencing program, has been a part of our work and personal life for the past two years. It’s a terrific way to remain in touch with friends, family, and coworkers, with end-to-end encryption and a variety of useful presentation options.
It’s also jam-packed with features, many of which you may not be aware of. Whether you’ve been using Zoom for years or have only recently signed up, there are a number of useful and interesting tips, techniques, and secret features you can use to improve your video chatting experience and make your video meetings a bit less strange — and ideally avoid Zoom weariness and anxiety.
1. Make a new background
By choosing your background while on Zoom conversations, you may virtually take yourself to the beach, outer space, or anywhere else you can think. You can read our step-by-step guide to changing your Zoom backdrop on the desktop and mobile app, but the fundamental procedure is to go to Settings > Virtual Background and select or upload the image you want. You must, however, ensure that your system meets all of the necessary standards.
2. On Zoom, change your name.
Do you want to alter your name when you’re in a Zoom meeting? It’s simple. Temporary and permanent options are available. If you only want to alter your name for the current meeting, click the Participants option at the bottom of the screen after entering the meeting. Hover over your name and select More > Rename from the drop-down menu. Click OK after you’ve typed in the name you want to appear.
Go to the Zoom web portal and login in to your account if you want to alter your name for future meetings. Select Profile from the drop-down menu. Click Edit in the top right corner, next to your name. Under Display name, type the name you want to use, and then click Save changes. Your new name should now display in every meeting, but if you choose, you can alter it for particular sessions using the procedures above.
3. Use Zoom to add your pronouns.
By not assuming anyone’s gender identification based on their looks, adding your pronouns to your name on Zoom makes the platform more inclusive of transgender, gender nonconforming, and gender nonbinary persons. You can add your pronouns either for all future meetings or just for the one you’re in right now, similar to updating your name. Here are detailed instructions for adding your pronouns to Zoom.
4. Upload a profile photo to Zoom.
You can add a temporary profile image to any meeting you join, or a permanent one to all meetings, same to how you can change your name. After entering a meeting, click the Participants option at the bottom of the screen to add a profile photo for that meeting. Hover over your name and select More > Add profile photo from the drop-down menu. Click Open after selecting the image you want from your computer.
Go to the Zoom web interface and login in to your account to add a permanent profile image to your Zoom meetings. Select Profile from the drop-down menu. Click Edit in the top right corner, next to your name. Click Change > Upload next to the empty photo icon. Choose a photo from your computer and then click Open. Click Save after adjusting which part of the image you want to appear.
5. By default, your audio is muted and your camera is turned off.
It can get tedious to search for the mute audio and camera buttons as soon as you go into a conference. Turning those off by default will prevent your coworkers from seeing your bedhead or hearing your pet screeching. When joining a conference, go to Settings > Audio > Mute microphone, then Settings > Video > Turn off my video.
6. Use the space bar to mute and unmute the music.
Stop fumbling with the microphone button when you’re called to speak. You can easily mute and unmute your microphone by pressing and holding the spacebar on your keyboard.
7. Use the beauty filter to enhance your appearance.
If you’ve followed all of the work-from-home recommendations about getting dressed and ready as if it were a regular workday but still don’t think you’re looking your best, Zoom’s Touch Up My Appearance option might be right for you. The filter seeks to make you look dewy and well-rested by smoothing over your appearance. You know what you’re getting if you’ve ever used beauty mode on your phone’s selfie camera.
Click the up arrow next to Start Video to enable it. Check the box for Touch Up My Appearance under My Video in Video Settings.
8. Create a waiting room to provide more solitude.
You’ve probably heard of Zoombombing, which occurs when unauthorized guests crash and interrupt a Zoom meeting. Enabling the Waiting Room feature, which allows you to view who is seeking to join the meeting before allowing them entry, is one approach to help avoid this from happening. Go to Account Management > Account Settings to do so. To enable the setting, go to Meeting, then Waiting Room. (You can get additional information on how to avoid Zoombombing in your meetings here.)
9. Create Zoom breakout rooms for discussion in smaller groups.
Break up a large Zoom meeting into up to 50 smaller sessions with breakout rooms. The meeting host has the option of splitting meeting attendees into distinct sessions either automatically or manually, or allowing them to choose and enter any breakout session they like. At any time, the host can switch between sessions.
Go to Account Management > Account Settings to start a breakout room as the host. Make sure the Breakout Room setting is toggled on under the Meeting tab. Allowing meeting hosts to pre-assign participants to breakout rooms is also an option. (If the Breakout Room option is grayed out, it’s locked, and you should contact your Zoom administrator.)
10. Show your screen to others
By clicking the Share screen icon on the toolbar at the bottom of the meeting screen, you can share your screen with other participants for a Zoom meeting (or to view a movie or play a game). You’ll be given the choice of sharing your full desktop or just one of your open windows. To return to being a normal meeting participant, click the red Stop Share icon at the top of the screen.
11. Use emojis to express yourself onscreen
Even if you’re muted at a meeting, you can still communicate with the hosts using emoji reactions. To communicate without disrupting the conference, use a thumbs-up or clapping emoji (by default, those reactions have a yellow skin tone, but you can customize that in the Zoom desktop app). Zoom introduced roughly 40 emoji reactions last year, up from the six that were previously available.
Click the Reactions tab at the bottom of the meeting screen (it’s in the same panel as mute audio and video, to the right) and select the one you wish to react to during the meeting. After 5 seconds, the emoji will vanish.
Participants can interact by placing an icon such as a raised hand next to their name if the meeting organizer has enabled the nonverbal feedback feature. Each participant will be able to see the feedback of the others.
12. Acquire a working knowledge of keyboard shortcuts
Zoom features a ton of useful keyboard shortcuts to help you explore the program on your desktop without using your mouse if you don’t enjoy poking around on your screen.
Join a meeting, start or stop recording, go full screen, and share your screen are all commands available (more on that below). Zoom’s complete list of hot keys and keyboard shortcuts can be found here.
13. Enable gallery mode.
Instead of only seeing the person speaking, gallery view allows you to see everyone in the meeting at once. To enable it, go to the upper right corner of the screen and click the Gallery View tab. If there are 49 or fewer people in the meeting, you’ll see all of their screens on one page. You’ll be able to switch between many pages if there are more. Click Speaker View in the top right corner to change it back.
14. Use an immersive perspective to put yourself in the same virtual environment as your teammates.
Zoom’s immersive view feature allows you to place yourself in the same virtual environment as your other video chat participants, whether it’s a conference room, a classroom, or anywhere else you can imagine. Start the Zoom meeting or webinar on your desktop if you’re the meeting or webinar host (it will be enabled by default for all free and single pro accounts using Zoom 5.6.3 or higher). You’ll find the option to enable Immersive View in the top right area, next to Speaker or Gallery View. Choose one of Zoom’s predefined scenes or submit your own by clicking Immersive View.
Your webinar hosts or meeting participants will now be placed in the same virtual background, which will appear on everyone’s screen.
15. Hide people that aren’t in the video.
On a larger call, your screen may get congested with participants, which can be irritating, particularly if some do not have their cameras turned on. Go to Settings > Video > Meetings and tick Hide nonvideo participants to hide the people who aren’t using video. Only your coworkers’ pets and children who appear on video will now distract you.
16. Highlight with the vanishing pen instead of going back and erasing.
The vanishing pen function in Zoom allows you to draw on your shared screen to highlight text or objects, but it fades away so you don’t have to go back and erase your marks. To utilize it, share your screen and then select Annotate from the menu. Select Vanishing Pen from the option that appears.
17. Take notes on the meeting and save them to your computer.
Zoom subscribers, both free and premium, can use the desktop software to record their meeting to their laptop or PC (you can’t record on mobile right now unless you have a paid account — keep reading for more information). After that, the recorded files can be uploaded to a file storage site like Google Drive or Dropbox, or a video streaming service like YouTube or Vimeo.
Go to Settings > Recording and toggle it on to enable local recording. When you’re hosting a Zoom meeting, go to the bottom toolbar and click the Record icon.
18. Upload a meeting recording to the cloud
You can make a recording that will save directly to the cloud if you have one of Zoom’s subscription plans (which start at $149.90 for a year) (or to your computer if you prefer). When you press the record button on the bottom toolbar, you’ll be given the option of recording locally or in the cloud. This can be done on a PC or a mobile device.
19. Make use of the Whiteboard feature.
Zoom introduced a new Whiteboard feature in April that allows participants to interact on a sharable canvas that can be accessed even when you’re not in a meeting. To use Whiteboard, make sure you’re using the most recent version of the app. Then go to the Zoom app’s Whiteboards page and choose New Whiteboard. Whiteboards must be enabled by your account administrator for work accounts; if you can’t locate the Whiteboards tab, your organization presumably hasn’t enabled them yet.
20. Host a gathering of more than 100 individuals
You must upgrade to a premium professional account if you are hosting a group of more than 100 individuals for work or school. You can host up to 1,000 people if you upgrade to the top tier (Enterprise Plus).
Subscribe to the How to Do It All channel on YouTube for more how-to videos and watch our video on how to make your webcam video look and sound fantastic online.