How to use Zoom like a pro: 13 hidden features to try at your next meeting



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Sarah Tew / CNET

the Zoom video meeting and the chat application has become the very popular host for millions of people working and studying from home during the coronavirus pandemic. While the rapid growth of the video chat service has led to the revelation of a number of privacy and security issues, there are some ways to protect your account and your chats from Zoombombing and other privacy defects.

Whether you’ve been using Zoom for years or recently signed up, there are a number of useful, fun tips, tricks, and hidden features you can find to enhance your video chat experience and make your video meetings a little less weird.

Here are 13 ways to become a Zoom master.

Read more: Ultimate webcam tips: how to look and sound great online

1. Change your background

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Change the Zoom background to space, or a custom photo.

Screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome / CNET

Virtually transport yourself to the beach, outer space, or anywhere else you can imagine by customizing your background while on Zoom calls – everyone is doing it these days. You can read our step by step guide to change your Zoom background in the desktop and mobile app but basically you’re going to Settings> Virtual background and select or load the image you want from there. However, you must ensure that your system meets all the requirements to do so.

Read more: 10 free alternative Zoom apps for video chats

2. Mute your audio and turn off your default camera

Diving through the muted audio and camera buttons as soon as you enter a meeting can get old. Prevent your coworkers from seeing the head of your bed or hearing your cat screeching by turning them off by default. To do so, go to Settings> Audio> Mute microphone when joining a meeting, and so Settings> Video> Turn off my video when joining a meeting.

3. Mute and activate the sound with the space bar

When you are asked to speak, stop fighting to click the microphone button. You can press and hold the space bar to quickly mute and activate the microphone, right from your keyboard.

Read more: Zoom, Skype, FaceTime: 11 tips for your video chat apps

4. React with emoji on the screen

If you’re muted in a meeting, you can still let the hosts know your thoughts with emoji reactions. Send a thumbs-up or clapping emoji to communicate without interrupting the meeting (by default, those reactions have a yellow skin tone, but you can customize it in the Zoom desktop app).

To react during a meeting, click the Reactions tab at the bottom of the meeting screen (it’s in the same panel as muting audio and video, on the right) and choose the one you want. Emoji will disappear after 5 seconds.

If the meeting organizer enables the nonverbal comment feature, participants can place an icon such as a raised hand next to their name to communicate. Each participant will be able to see the comments of the others.

5. Learn useful keyboard shortcuts

For those who don’t like to click on your screen, Zoom has plenty of useful keyboard shortcuts to help you navigate the application on your desktop without using the mouse. Find commands to join a meeting, start or stop recording, enter full screen and share your screen (more on that below). See the full list of Zoom hotkeys and keyboard shortcuts.

6. Activate gallery view

Gallery view allows you to see everyone in the meeting at once, rather than just the speaker. To activate it, click on the tab that says “Gallery view” in the upper right corner. If the meeting has 49 or fewer attendees, you will see all of your screens on one page. If there are more, you will have the option to move between multiple pages. Change it again by clicking “Speaker View” in the same upper right corner.

7. Hide non-video participants

In a larger call, your screen may be crowded with participants, which can be a distraction, especially if some don’t have their cameras on. Hide participants who are not using video by going to Settings> Video> Meetingsand check Hide non-video participants. Now you’ll just be distracted pets and children of your coworkers who appear on video.


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8. Share your screen

Share your screen for a Zoom meeting (or to watch a movie or play a game) with other participants by clicking Share screen icon in the toolbar at the bottom of the meeting screen. You will have the option to share your entire desktop or just one of the windows you have opened. Click red Stop sharing button at the top of the screen to become a normal meeting participant again.

9. Turn on the beauty filter

At this point, if you know all the work from home advice about dressing and preparing like it’s a normal work day, but still don’t think it looks its best, Zoom’s touch-up feature may be for you. The filter aims to soften its appearance, making it look moist and well rested. If you’ve ever used beauty mode on your phone’s selfie camera, you know what you’re getting.

To turn it on, click on the arrow up next to Start video. Click Video settingsand under My video check the box Retouch my appearance.

10. Record the meeting on your computer

Both free and paid Zoom subscribers can record their meeting on their laptop or computer using the desktop app (you can’t record on mobile right now, unless you have a paid account; read on for more information about). Those recorded files can be uploaded to a file storage service like Google Drive or Dropbox, or a video streaming service like YouTube or Vimeo.

To enable local recording go to Configurations > Recordingand activate it. When you host a Zoom meeting, click the Record icon on the bottom toolbar.

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Sarah Tew / CNET

11. Record a meeting in the cloud

If you have one of Zoom’s paid plans (starting at $ 15 a month), you can take a recording that will be saved directly to the cloud (or to your computer if you prefer). Tap the record button on the bottom toolbar, and you’ll have the option to do it on-premises or in the cloud. You can do this on a desktop computer or on a mobile device.

12. Organize a group meeting of more than 40 minutes.

At Zoom’s free entry level, group meetings can only last up to 40 minutes (although one-on-one meetings are unlimited in time). To get unlimited group time, upgrade to a paid account.

13. It houses more than 100 people.

If you have a group of more than 100 people to host for work or school, you must upgrade to a paid professional account. If you upgrade to the highest level (Enterprise Plus), you can host up to 1,000 participants.

For more tips to help you overcome social distancing and self-quarantinelook if you should use Zoom or Skype to work from home, our guide to everything you need to stay healthy and entertained while practicing social distancingand all practical tips to help avoid coronavirus when you leave home.