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 1.2.2
Zoom added, tweaked, and improved a number of features since the previous release of the book. It’s a big grab bag, so get yourself a warm beverage and read on:
- A new Blur option in Background & Filters settings smudges your background instead of replacing it with an image or video. See “Let Zoom Drop In a Background.”
- Zoom continues to develop end-to-end encryption (E2EE) from a stable test with minimal features to one that encompasses everything you can do in a less-secure cloud-encrypted session. With updates through February 2021, Zoom now allows meeting reactions and 1:1 private chats. See “The Ins and Outs of E2EE.”
- Zoom has updated its cloud-based encryption in two ways. First, all Zoom apps must make secure connections to meetings; previously, some exceptions still existed. Second, a host and attendees are warned about the use of non-client connections, such dial-in audio participants or publicly accessible streaming of a meeting. See “Apps Can’t Connect Insecurely, But Add-Ons Can.”
- Zoom’s web apps have been further elevated towards native status by offering Active Speaker and Gallery views. Previously browser users could only see a limited speaker-oriented view and a full-screen view. Now, participants in a browser get the full-fledged treatment. See “Adjust the View.”
- For meetings that specify an alternative host—a special kind of co-host that can start a meeting if the organizer isn’t there—the scheduled host now regains their full host status whenever they join. The alternative host is shifted to a lesser role. See “Divvy Up Host Roles.”
- Zoom can now directly share video files up to 1080p. See “Choose a Desktop Option to Share.”
- You can rotate your camera input in Zoom for macOS. Why? I don’t know. See “Frame Yourself on the Desktop.”
- Reaction emoji and nonverbal feedback have been somewhat revised and relocated a couple of times. They’re now all accessible via the same method and only persist for about 10 seconds, except for the option to raise one’s hand. See “Get Attention” for the full rundown of where to find them and how they work.
- Zoom optionally lets you choose to restrict a meeting to people in countries or regions you select, or conversely bar participants from particular locations. See “Schedule a Meeting.”
This version also includes two fixes to the text:
- Zoom offers the account holder who scheduled the meeting the option to reclaim the host role after handing it off. I’d omitted documenting that in previous editions. See “Hand Off the Host Role.”
- In “Run a Poll,” I added a note to call out that hosts and co-hosts cannot participate in poll voting, which makes it inappropriate for some purposes.
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.