Note: This book is mostly up to date. The Zoom app now offers a Desk View, and has undergone a few other small changes since the book’s last revision. Glenn hopes to do a minor update to this book in the first quarter of 2023. (Read more about updates).)
The pandemic introduced hundreds of millions of people to videoconferencing, and many of us still videoconference frequently as part of our work, school, and socializing—we’ve gone from zero to Zoom and stayed there!
Even if you’ve been using Zoom for years, you may still find regular frustrations as you attempt to share a screen, control audio and video options, interact in a meeting, or act as a meeting host. Zoom’s makers constantly tweak the app and system, adding major features with no warning and modifying existing ones. You don’t have to stay on top of that to get the most out of Zoom, because this book is here to help you.
Experienced users will discover hundreds of tips to improve meetings, whether as a participant or a host. Find out how to look and sound your best in a meeting, share app windows or screens, arrange video panels, and work with multiple displays. Become a nuanced presenter in Zoom using Keynote, PowerPoint, or Zoom’s built-in Slides as Virtual Background feature. Record sessions normally or capture multiple audio tracks and video streams in Zoom for later editing.
Those new to Zoom will learn which Zoom app fits your purpose best, how to configure your account and app, how to chat in a meeting, and how to create and manage your own meetings.
If you host meetings, you’ll find this book invaluable in teaching you how to plan a meeting, start it up, and manage it safely, as you appoint co-hosts, run polls, create breakout rooms, and moderate participants. And for those involved in or interested in livestreaming Zoom to services like YouTube Live or Twitch, this book has all the information you need. The book also includes a chapter on Zoom whiteboards, a feature added in April 2022.
This book covers the current state of Zoom privacy and security, including the difference between Zoom’s standard meeting security and its enhanced end-to-end encryption (E2EE), and how to manage your own privacy and—for hosts—that of meeting participants.
- How to install and configure Zoom
- Choosing whether or when to use the Zoom web app
- Configuring your physical setup and hardware for best audio and video quality
- Mastering meeting participation, including the various methods of “speaking up”
- Zoom’s many mobile and desktop views for seeing other people and shared screens
- Navigating limitations to access presenter’s controls and notes with PowerPoint and Keynote
- Finding the best combination of screens and devices to manage each of your presentations
- Becoming a host and starting meetings with one other person or 1,000
- Livestreaming meetings to services run by Facebook, Twitch, Vimeo, and YouTube
- Conducting polls and managing breakout rooms
- Using Zoom’s free, built-in transcription and captioning
- How to preserve your privacy when sharing apps, presentations, or other parts of your screen
- Collaborating inside or outside meetings using the new whiteboard features in Zoom desktop apps
- Recording a meeting, and managing multiple audio tracks and video streams for later editing
- Deciding whether to upgrade to a paid Zoom tier for meetings you host
- Taking advantage of Apple-specific audio and video features
- Zoom’s security options, including end-to-end encryption
- How co-host and alternate host roles work in managing a meeting
Glenn Fleishman is a veteran technology writer who has contributed to dozens of publications across his career, including Macworld, Fast Company, and Increment. He has also written dozens of editions of books in the Take Control series. He spent 2019 and 2020 building 100 tiny type museums full of real printing artifacts. Glenn lives in Seattle with his wife and two children.
What’s New in the Third Edition
Zoom continues to make substantial changes to its apps and infrastructure, add new overarching features, and improve, extend, and revise existing options. This third edition of the book incorporates extensions and updates over the last year.
Hybrid Work and Return to Work
Since the previous edition appeared, many as hundreds of millions of people around the world have returned part-time or full-time to a company office that they hadn’t seen—or had run into and run out of a few times—since March 2020.
As a result, hybrid work is on the rise: people working a mix from home and in a company space. This means many Zoom sessions can involve a mix of people sitting together, sitting within earshot, and individually remote.
I’ve updated the book to add strategies and better reflect the new work environment. In particular, see “Prepare for Hybrid Meetings,” a new section that outlines a few scenarios.
A whiteboard appears in most conference rooms and became a heavily relied upon virtual feature during the pandemic. Zoom had built one simplified kind of digital whiteboard into meetings that can be invoked through Share Screen > Whiteboard. (See “Share from a Desktop App.”)
In April 2022, the company released a second kind of collaborative drawing space it calls Zoom Whiteboard. It supplements, rather than replaces, the shared whiteboard. It may be invoked and used inside or outside a meeting. The tools are similar but not identical to the drawing and annotation options available in a Zoom meeting, making for confusion. (See “Mark Up a Screen” for markup and annotation tools.)
I cover this feature in a new chapter, “Collaborate with a Whiteboard.”
The rise during the pandemic of livestreaming—literally meaning streaming video live via a number of online services—pairs neatly with Zoom, which has excellent and ever-improving built-in support. The company recently added direct support for Twitch.
I’ve added a chapter in this version, “Stream a Meeting,” to help you through the creaky setup required.
With the expected release in third quarter 2022 of iOS 16/iPadOS 16 and macOS 13 Ventura, Apple will bring multiple webcam-related improvements that allow iPhone and Mac users more options and more sophisticated video input choices. See “Apple Virtual Camera Arrives in Third Quarter 2022.”
This edition also expands on the Center Stage feature available on select iPads and with Macs connected to a Studio Display, adds coverage of the background-blur Portrait mode in iOS, iPadOS, and macOS, and explains how those features will be affected with this fall’s updates. See “Apple Keeps You in the Picture” and “Apple Offers Its Own Blur with Portrait Mode.”
Hide Self View
It’s an odd omission, but I never mentioned the Hide Self View in previous editions of this book, a choice that disables your view of your own video stream. I now cover it in “Hide Yourself.”
Watermark Your Audio and Video
Hosts can have watermarks appear on all video panels or in local audio recordings in a meeting for all participants. A visible watermark is the viewer’s email address; an audio one is hidden and can be decoded only by Zoom. See “Add a Watermark.” (This privacy and security feature was added years ago, but I only recently encountered it.)
General Zoom Updates
Zoom is always expanding, tweaking, and improving its apps. I’ve updated the book to reflect the following changes:
- Zoom One rebranding: Zoom is slowly renaming its core videoconferencing service that bundles in a few other features—chat, Whiteboard, and Zoom Phone, which is optional—from Zoom to Zoom One. Given the company, app name, and main product were all called Zoom, distinguishing those makes a lot of sense!
- 40-minute limit on all free sessions: Any user without a paid license attached to their user account can only host sessions up to 40 minutes, whether with one other person or 99 other people. See “Zoom Ends Unlimited 1:1 Sessions for Free Users.”
- Polls library: You now have the option to create polls before a meeting—instead of only during one—using an account library available in the Meetings webpage for your account. When scheduling a meeting, you can select to include these polls among the polling options available as a host. See “Run a Poll.”
- Record individual audio tracks in the cloud: Zoom is often used to record podcasts and other events. Having separate audio tracks from each participant allows later editing and removal of crosstalk. Zoom has an option for local recording that allows recording individual tracks by the host, but only recently started testing it for cloud recording. See “Set Options for Recording.”
- Recognition of suspicious logins: To avoid hijacking of Zoom accounts, the company may require an additional password for corporate accounts using a business email login and without two-factor authentication enabled. If Zoom detects something unusual, like “a login from a different country or device than usual, among other factors,” according to release notes, the company will send a login password and link to the person’s email address.
- Meeting reactions displayed for yourself: When you raised your hand, used an emoji, or opted for what Zoom calls “nonverbal feedback” (like a slow down or speed up request), it was hard for you to tell what you’d just done—no feedback on your feedback. Zoom now displays your actions and reactions for you in a meeting more clearly, particularly when you’ve hidden your “self-view” video stream. See “Get Attention.”
- New administrative interface: Zoom splits admin features for individual, group, and company accounts across many locations in its web-based account interface. The company has tried to simplify this by overhauling the interface so it’s easier to figure out where to find features. I address this throughout the book, wherever website settings are mentioned, but you can find a number of specifics in “Configure Meeting Options.”
- Avatars: Zoom has jumped on the animated face-tracking avatar background, letting you have a red panda or dog or other animal swap out your face and body. I don’t see a use for it except for kids in remote learning uncomfortable for having their faces appear on camera. See “Mess with Video Filters, Studio Effects, and Avatars.”
- Mobile picture-in-picture mode: You can have a Zoom window appear as a picture-in-picture inset. See “How to Switch Among Views.”
- Participants list can show invited parties: Account admins can opt to have the Participants list in a live meeting show all those invited instead of just those currently attending. See “Engage with Tools To Manage a Meeting.”
- Waiting Room: Improvements for hosts for managing the pre-entrance Meeting Room include:
- Rename participants: A host can rename participants before they join a meeting.
- Participants’ order: A host can sort people in the Waiting Room by when they entered or alphabetically by name. See “Check Other Participants in from the Waiting Room.”
- Breakout rooms: Zoom has added a couple of useful tools to improve breakout room management by hosts and admins (see “Break Meetings into Smaller Groups”):
- Save Breakout Room assignments: When creating breakout rooms, a host using the desktop app can store the participant assignments to room to recall for future meetings.
- Host access to breakout rooms without joining: A host can now view the action within breakout rooms from the main level of Zoom without joining a breakout room.
- Chat Etiquette Tool: Zoom has enhanced how account owners and admins can create word lists and patterns and set policies for when those match. For instance, a numeric pattern for account numbers could prevent a message from going through and suspend an account. See “Manage Chat.”
One additional change to the book worth noting is in the “Schedule a Meeting” section. Zoom increasingly offers scheduling options available only via the website. To reflect that split and make it clearer where you can make configuration choices, I’ve reorganized the section, splitting it into “Schedule via an App” and “Schedule via the Website.”
Posted by Glenn Fleishman on June 23, 2020
Zoom is constantly tweaking its privacy and security settings, and they announced some minor changes today that I will fold into the next update of the book, slated for July.
Zoom will no longer use the term “password” to refer to the secret you use to join a meeting. Because your Zoom account has a password, this may have confused less-sophisticated users, who could have been sharing their account password instead of one required for a meeting.
Instead, Zoom is updating their apps and web interfaces to use the term “passcode,” which they say more accurately reflects the nature of the secret. This doesn’t change behavior in any way, but it does make it clearer what you’re talking about. The company didn’t state a timetable for those interface changes, but watch for them in the coming weeks.
The more significant change only affects people with paid accounts. Starting July 17, 2020, Zoom will require any meeting without a passcode has a Waiting Room enabled. You can also have both a passcode and Waiting Room, which I highly recommend and cover in the book from the user and host perspective.
For people with paid accounts, from the single-host Pro up through enterprise flavors, it’s a change for any host who had omitted a passcode and disabled the Waiting Room.
Zoom had turned on Waiting Rooms by default for all accounts in May, but hosts can override that on a per-account or per-meeting basis, and administrators for business accounts can set Waiting Room policies that require them or disable them by default for all users.
As of May 9, 2020, hosts with free-tier (Basic) accounts must have a passcode set, so the Waiting Room remains an added option for those accounts.
Posted by Joe Kissell on May 19, 2020
Glenn Fleishman joined Chuck Joiner on MacVoices in a two-part interview to discuss his new book Take Control of Zoom. Needless to say, the interview itself was also conducted using Zoom!
In Part 1, Glenn offers some Zoom tips and discusses Zoom’s privacy and security challenges.
In Part 2, Glenn discusses Zoom vs. the competition, recording options, and more.
November 23, 2022—This book is mostly up to date. The Zoom app now offers a Desk View, and has undergone a few other small changes since the book’s last revision. Glenn hopes to do a minor update to this book in the first quarter of 2023. (Read more about updates.)
email@example.com (verified owner) –
This little book has been invaluable in getting up to speed with Zoom. Packed with information, but easy to read, it has broadened my knowledge of the platform no end. I can’t recommend it highly enough!