‘I’m gonna Zoom Zoom Zoom-a Zoom…” Anyone old enough to remember that theme song from an old PBS show called Zoom? Well today it would be completely apropo! Because everyone is Zooming. Everywhere you look there’s a Zoom meeting. In fact, I predict that soon the word “Zoom” will be its own noun to describe a virtual meeting function like “Google it” for searching online or “Facebook me” for connecting via a social media app.

Right now, like many of you, I am beating myself up for not buying Zoom stock about 5 years ago. I missed that early financial investment yet I am investing my time in this app every day now – like, 20 times a day.

For those of you currently living under a rock, Zoom is a platform for video conferencing and one that I’ve been using for years. It’s a must have for attending daily—sometimes hourly—remote meetings with coworkers around the world.

One of Zoom’s greatest strengths is that it’s reasonably easy to start using right out of the gate. Once you’ve got the hang of it though, there’s also a lot of cool little tricks and features under the hood.

Note: These tips assume you’re using a paid Zoom account, so some features may be missing if you’re using the free version.

To Look Good is to Feel Good

On either a Windows PC or a Mac, you can open the Zoom app, then access the Settings menu by clicking the little gear icon in the upper right corner. Choose the Video section, and you’ll get a preview of what your camera sees.

And while you’re in the Video section—and if you’ve got a powerful enough computer and a nimble enough internet connection—click the “Enable HD” option if it’s available, and see how the “Touch up my appearance” feature makes you look. For some, it’ll smooth out those wrinkles and blemishes; for others, it’ll make you look like wax.
Take a gander at the differences in the photos above: regular on the left and touched up plus HD on the right. I’ll also remind everyone that hair salons are closed during these trying times. See how you like it, and then leave it checked or unchecked accordingly.

No video? No problem.

“But. I hate myself on video.” you say? “Ugh. I just rolled out of bed and have to jump on a call!”

Hair’s a mess? Don’t stress. Just add a beauty shot to your profile and voila!! Everyone thinks you look like that all day every day. It’s a miracle. And I am about it. Except for when you’re on those “Video Mandatory” meetings. Other than that, you are all set.

“My office/living room/bedroom is messy.” No prob. Add a ‘virtual’ background.

 

It’s easy to change up your background if you have the newest version of Zoom downloaded. Just go into video settings and click on Virtual backgrounds. Then either choose one of their stock images or go into your photo library on your computer and choose anything! You can even use video if you are into that! 

Dude, unmute.

“Can you hear me now?”

“No.” Major hand gestures and chats ensue.

While you’re still in the Settings menu, head into the Audio section to select your preferred audio setup. If you’re just using your laptop speaker and microphone, there’s not much to adjust here. But if you’ve got a mic-headset combo you’d like to use, make sure it’s selected here for both the Speaker and Microphone options before you start your call.

You can also select new audio devices while you’re in a call by clicking to the right of the Mute button, which will bring up a menu of available devices. Note the other options on the bottom of the menu as well. If your computer audio is acting up, click “Switch to Phone Audio…” to dial in from your phone instead. Or click the “Audio Settings…” option to open up the full audio menu.

 

Auto-copy Invite URL When Starting a Meeting

The Invite keyboard shortcut is great, but this setting takes things a step further.

Found in General settings, this option makes it super easy to invite people to any meeting, without even having to go through the process of copying the invite URL.

 

Dog’s barking? Mute.

Good Zoom etiquette dictates that if you’re not speaking, you should mute yourself. However, you’ll invariably be called on to speak and, after being jarred awake from your half-slumber, you’ll fumble around for what seems like eternity to try to unmute yourself. There’s a much better way! Assuming your Zoom window is active, just hold down the space bar to unmute yourself. While it’s held down, say your piece, and once you’re finished, let the space bar go and you’ll be muted again.

Alternatively, if you’ve knocked your mouse across the room in a panic but need to speak for an extended period of time, pressing Alt+A will toggle the mute function on and off without requiring you to hold the keys down.

 

Enable Other Shortcuts Outside of Zoom

This setting will double the power of all of the keyboard shortcuts above, and that’s not an exaggeration. Do you often have other windows open while in Zoom meetings? Well, with this setting, you can use your Zoom keyboard shortcuts even when you’re in another window.

To turn it on, go to Settings > Keyboard Shortcuts and select “Enable Global Shortcut.”

Meeting Reminder (Mobile)

When I’m on the go, I’m not staring at the time, so I don’t always know when a meeting is starting in a couple of minutes. On my phone, calendar reminders often go ignored (there are so many of them that it’s just too noisy to keep up), so I set up Zoom reminders to ensure that I never miss an important scheduled meeting.

 

 

The “Brady Bunch” View

By default, Zoom will show you whoever’s actively speaking. However, with a single click, you can view everyone on the call by clicking “Gallery View” in the upper-right corner of an active meeting. Once clicked, it’ll show you a grid of all the call’s participants up to a maximum of 49 per page.

Got Video?

Many Zoom calls will feature a heaping helping of screen sharing, but sometimes things break down if and when you’re trying to show a video to a bunch of people. To that end, when you share your screen—using the big, green Share button in the mid-bottom of the Zoom window while you’re on a call—before you choose what to share from the selection pane that pops up, make sure to check “Share computer sound” in the lower-left corner first. That way, while you’re playing a video, the rest of the people on the call will hear what you hear.

Can I have your permission to record this meeting?

Some great ideas come out of meetings, but not everyone can be on the call in real time. Or maybe you’re doing a webinar and you want to record it to use it as an on-demand asset later. Whatever the case, Zoom makes recording calls pretty easy. First, in the Zoom Settings menu before you start your call, under the Recording section, make sure “Optimize for 3rd party video editor” is checked. That’ll give you an MP4 video file that’s easy to work with when using editing software.

Then, from an active meeting—and assuming you’re the host of the meeting—click the Record button at the bottom of the window. You’ll see two options: “Record on this Computer” and “Record to the Cloud.” If you’ve got a decently powerful computer, choose “Record on this Computer”: the cloud-recording option, while good, is limited to just a gigabyte of storage space across your account. It can get eaten up pretty quickly, while the local-recording option is only limited by the size of your hard drive.

Once your meeting is done, let things churn a bit. If you’ve left the storage location as the default, you’ll eventually find an MP4 file of your recording in the Documents > Zoom folder on your machine.

Remote Support? Got You.

In a pinch, Zoom’s Remote Support Session feature can be used for basic computer troubleshooting. Let your mom look her glorious creation in the eyes for a few minutes of small talk, then show her how to use the Spotify desktop app to rock out to ’90s thrash metal.

She’ll first need to access the Zoom Settings menu. In the General section, there’s a selection called “Enable the remote control of all applications” that needs to be toggled on (it’ll be off by default).

Once that’s toggled on, the host of any meetings will have a Support button at the bottom of the Zoom window during active calls, at which point he or she can request control of the target’s entire desktop, a specific application, or to restart the target machine. More info here.

There’s also a somewhat lighter version of the feature called Remote Control that can be leveraged during a call while someone’s sharing their screen. Read about it here.

Slack + Zoom. What a team.

We meet in Zoom, but we live in Slack. Which is why the Zoom/Slack integration is so helpful. You can use it to start Zoom meetings right from Slack. Just type “/zoom” in Slack to see all the options.

 

I hope these tips and tricks help solve any issues you may be facing with Zoom. If you found it helpful, or have more tips, leave a comment below!

 

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