Many of us rarely touched a video chat or videoconferencing tool until the pandemic hit. Now, we videoconference daily (or more often) for work meetings, to talk to clients, to stay in touch with friends and family, and for school—we’ve gone from zero to Zoom!
Despite Zoom’s broad adoption and frequent usage over several months, users sometimes struggle to keep up with the service’s features and interface. Zoom changes constantly, and often spreads useful or important features across two or three different places. Take Control of Zoom helps demystify powerful features in the Zoom apps, while also making sure you can customize and control the software to meet your needs, whether as a participant trying to see and hear everyone in a meeting or a host making a presentation.
The book covers a broad range of topics, from which Zoom app to use and how to configure your account and app even before your first meeting, to how to work among Zoom views and chat in a meeting, to creating and managing your own meetings.
It also dives extensively into sharing your screen and making presentations. The book offers step-by-step instructions on working with macOS and Windows full-screen modes, and using PowerPoint and Keynote for static or interactive presentations that are fed through Zoom, how to manage on a single- or dual-monitor computer, using multiple computers and devices at once, and integrating multiple video sources for real-world demonstrations or sharing hard-copy documents.
You also learn about virtual cameras, software that can take one or more media sources—still images, video, animation, app windows, and sometimes more—and mix into a camera feed you can simply select and broadcast as a host or participant in Zoom. That category includes Camo, mmHmm, OBS, and Zoom’s new built-in Slides as Virtual Background feature.
For those who host meetings or plan to, this book provides comprehensive advice and directions on planning a meeting, starting it up, and managing it, including running polls and offering breakout rooms. It also provides extensive insight into keeping meetings safe, and warning or removing problematic participants.
But what about privacy and security? Zoom started 2020 with a lot of security and design flaws, some of which even misled users about how secure Zoom sessions were. As 2020 progress, the company fixed bugs, promised improvements and delivered them, and came clean about where it fell short. The book covers the current state of Zoom security and privacy, including the introduction in the second half of 2020 of an end-to-end encryption (E2EE) preview available to all hosts. You can find out how E2EE works, Zoom’s implementation of it, how to enable it, and how to make sure your E2EE session remains free of snoopers.
Here’s what you will find in Take Control of Zoom:
- Learn how to install and configure Zoom.
- Decide if a web app meets your needs or it’s something to recommend to other meeting participants.
- Configure your physical setup and your hardware for best results on video.
- Upgrade your audio for better comfort and quality.
- Master participating in a meeting, including the various methods of “speaking up.”
- Get to know Zoom’s many mobile and desktop views for seeing other people and shared screens.
- Discover the best ways to present in PowerPoint and Keynote.
- Learn important workarounds for Keynote that give you full control and flexibility.
- Figure out the best combination of screens and devices for manage each of your presentations.
- Become a host and start meetings with one other person or 1,000.
- Conduct polls and manage breakout rooms.
- Use automatic transcription and captioning features.
- Find out how to preserve your privacy when sharing apps, presentations, or other parts of your screen.
- Record a meeting for later playback, presentation, or a podcast.
- Decide whether upgrading to a paid Zoom tier offers enough improvement and features for meetings you host.
- Understand Zoom’s security options, including enabling and validating end-to-end encryption for meetings
- Learn how co-host and alternate host roles work in helping manage a meeting
What's New in Version 1.2.1
Just after we published version 1.2 of the book, Zoom released an update that fixed a problem I had complained about: that co-hosts couldn’t manage breakout rooms, even though co-hosts had nearly all other hosting powers. I’ve updated the book throughout to reflect that addition to the co-host role, particularly in “Divvy Up Host Roles” and “Break Meetings into Smaller Groups.”
In the process, I realized that the book needed a short tutorial from the participant’s perspective on joining, leaving, and switching among breakout rooms. That new slice is in “Participate in a Meeting” in “Be Part of a Breakout Room.”
What Was New in Version 1.2
Zoom is such a sprawling service that this book—however large it is—can’t encompass every single feature. However, since the release of version 1.1, I’ve been asked to add details about using polls in meetings (with paid accounts), and setting up and managing breakout rooms, a way to have small-group sessions within an active meeting. You can find these details in “Run a Poll” and “Break Meetings into Smaller Groups.”
I also added a new chapter about artificial intelligence (AI) transcription available from Otter.ai and directly integrated into Zoom. Otter.ai has offered live and post-meeting transcription with Zoom for over two years, but Zoom and Otter.ai added a way to connect live captions (also known as closed captioning) directly into meetings in late October 2020. See “Add AI Transcription and Captioning.”
Zoom made a few other small but significant changes from mid-2020 through November 2020 that required some significant updates and additions to the book:
- Zoom began a preview of end-to-end encryption (E2EE), which restricts access to encryption keys used in a Zoom session from all outsiders—including Zoom. It’s a waypoint on their journey to providing it as a standard feature. Read a full explanation in “The Ins and Outs of E2EE,” learn how to enable E2EE as a host for meetings in “Create Safety with Settings,” and read how to check for snoopers in “Validate End-to-End Encryption.”
- In previous editions, I complained about the way in which you switched among views of participants in the Zoom desktop app. Zoom must have heard a lot of this kind of feedback, because they overhauled how you switch views and what’s displayed in each view. See “Adjust the View” for the updated interface explanation.
- You can now pin and spotlight more than one person, two distinct methods of keeping participants’ video streams the first or only thing seen. Participants can pin one video (or two with a second monitor); a host can pin up to nine for local recording. Spotlighting is a host-only feature, which lets the session’s coordinator pick from one to nine streams that everyone sees first order or in the main slot in Speaker View. For details on pinning from a participant standpoint, see Speaker (or Active Speaker); for pinning and spotlighting as a host, see “Use Spotlight to Highlight Speakers” and “Hosts Can Pin for Local Recording.”
- A host can also re-arrange a gallery view to a particular order, and then all participants see all other participants in exactly the order the host picked. See “Manage a Meeting.”
- Zoom added options to choose high-fidelity audio transmission, which the company highlighted as useful for musical performance and education, and stereo audio input, among other options. See “Manage Advanced Audio Settings.”
- Breakout rooms have been enhanced, as a host can now let participants pick which breakout room they want to join, as well as move among rooms. Previously, the host had to choose to drop people into breakout rooms randomly or handle the heavy lifting of moving people around. See “Break Meetings into Smaller Groups.”
- Zoom added attendee-based abuse reporting (see “Stay Safe in a Meeting”) as well as a new suspend-all-activities panic button for hosts (see “Suspend Participant Activities”).
This version also brings up to date descriptions and features of Camo, mmHmm, and OBS virtual-camera options in “Appendix A: Virtual Cameras.”
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.