Many of us rarely touched a video chat or videoconferencing tool until the pandemic hit. Now, we videoconference daily (or more often) for all sorts of reasons—we’ve gone from zero to Zoom!
Despite Zoom’s broad adoption, users sometimes struggle to keep up with its features and interface. Zoom changes constantly, and often spreads useful features across several places. This new edition of the book covers all the latest changes and the differences among platforms. You’ll learn which Zoom app to use, how to configure your account and app even before your first meeting, how to work in Zoom views and chat in a meeting, and how to create and manage your own meetings. The book also covers how to share your screen, make presentations with PowerPoint or Keynote, annotate shared images, record audio and video, use full-screen mode and multiple displays, and work with machine-learning transcription and captioning.
You also learn about virtual cameras—software like Camo, mmHmm, OBS, and Zoom’s built-in Slides as Virtual Background feature—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.
This book provides comprehensive advice and directions on planning a meeting, starting it up, and managing it, including running polls and setting up and using breakout rooms. It also provides extensive insight into keeping meetings safe, and warning or removing problematic participants.
But what about privacy and security? Since early 2020, Zoom has fixed bugs, promised improvements and delivered them, and come 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.
- 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
- The best ways to present using 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
- Conducting polls and managing breakout rooms
- Using automatic transcription and captioning features
- How to preserve your privacy when sharing apps, presentations, or other parts of your screen
- Recording a meeting for later playback, presentation, or a podcast
- Deciding whether to upgrade to a paid Zoom tier for meetings you host
- Zoom’s security options, including end-to-end encryption
- How co-host and alternate host roles work in managing a meeting
What’s New in the Second Edition
When I wrote the first edition of this book in 2020, the flaming hell of the early stages of the pandemic were underway. That shaped how you and hundreds of millions of other people used Zoom. While the pandemic stills rages on, the world has changed and this substantial revision to the book reflects that.
That includes the assumption that many of you will have figured out a lot of adaptations required for working from home and using Zoom, but you are always looking to improve your setup.
It also incorporates the shift to hybrid workplaces. Many people may never return full-time to an office and some large percentage of workers have been told or been given permission to work-from-home indefinitely or permanently. However, there’s also a large group of people who will spend some percentage of time in a home office or remote working pod and some in a congregate office. Take Control of Zoom now accounts for fully for all of these combinations.
Of course, the biggest changes to the book arise from Zoom itself: the company continues to add, remove, tweak, and overhaul features as it faces the daily demands of massive usage. Some temporary changes have seemingly become permanent—like video resolution restrictions (see “Zoom Degrading Video for the Foreseeable Future”); a “beta” feature introduced a year ago that remains labeled “beta”; and some sketchy ideas have blossomed into mature, rich offerings.
In addition to general changes throughout as described above, you can find the following specific substantive updates:
- Immersive View: Zoom added a new way to view people in a meeting as a group: Immersive View. This places people in virtual settings, like auditoriums and kitchens. It’s very weird, but I can see its utility, particularly for teaching and seminars. See “Appear in a Room in Immersive View” and, for hosts, “Place Participants in Immersive View.”
- Low-light recording: Zoom tweaked its low-light algorithm that enhances a video feed in conditions with dim light. The company says that now people who are backlit will be correctly bumped up in brightness without affecting the backlighting. For more on the low-light adjustment, see “Tweak Your Appearance.”
- Virtual backgrounds, video filters, and blur: Mobile apps can now access the blurred background option. Let Zoom drop in a background. Zoom was also updated to let administrators have more control over virtual backgrounds, which can be useful to avoid unwanted images. Account admins can now disable virtual backgrounds or require them, as well as requiring a default virtual background. Thus, you may have fewer options available than a generic Zoom user.
- Recording highlights: For paid subscribers above the Pro tier, Zoom can take cloud-recorded sessions and produce an AI-determined video highlights reel alongside a transcript. See “Let an AI Produce a Highlight Video.”
- Personal pronouns: Zoom devoted some real attention to allowing people both to enter the pronouns they use into their Zoom profile and to control exactly under what circumstances those pronouns appear. See “Set Your Pronouns and Control Their Display.”
- Annotation: A Vanishing Pen option for annotation allows brief highlighting that disappears without having to erase existing highlighting. See “Mark Up a Screen.”
- Emojis: In April, Zoom expanded the available emoji for reacting in meetings from six to the full set and added skin-tone selection. See “Get Attention.”
- Share screen to breakout rooms: Before a recent update, breakout rooms could only display people’s video streams. Now, screen sharing works within breakout rooms—depending on who has permission granted by the host. See “Share Your Screen” for more on screen sharing in general.
- iPad updates: Zoom released two improvements for iPads running its mobile app in June 2021: support for Center Stage, a feature to keep you centered on camera on 2021 iPads; and showing up to 48 participants in Gallery view on the 12.9-inch iPad with an M1 processor. See “Smartphones and Tablets” and “Gallery View.”
- Chat changes: The chat feature in Zoom continues to expand, threatening to become Slack. We already have Slack, so perhaps Zoom doesn’t need to try to become it, but we here at Take Control don’t set any company’s strategies. New features provide a more extensive person and channel list with customization in the sidebar in all desktop and mobile apps. Users can use voice messages in direct messages and chat channels. For chat sessions with enhanced encryption, users are informed about that. See “Chat in Zoom.”
This new edition also expands on “Record a Meeting,” the books’s section on recording within Zoom:
- Participant-based local recording: Based on reader feedback and questions, I have also added step-by-step instructions for a host allowing a participant to make a local recording.
- Post-session processing: I provide additional details about how a local recording completes processing at the conclusion of a Zoom session and where to find it.
- New alerts: Zoom has bumped up the nature and severity of the alerts it provides when a participant joins a meeting that’s being recorded or streamed.
- Live Transcript: Zoom now incorporates its own AI-based transcription service for paid plans and allows participants to request a Live Transcript during a meeting. (This requires obtaining permission from participants for recording, which is why I list it here.) See “Add AI Transcription and Captioning.”
This book previously lacked any discussion of troubleshooting a connection using Zoom’s built-in Statistics views in desktop apps. That is rectified with “Troubleshoot Video Quality.”
Finally, Zoom has shifted, like all services, to becoming a platform on which other parties integrate their particular software or offerings. A platform offers a standard way to connect via the internet instead of requiring custom programming for other companies to plug into Zoom. This is a good move, because it used to require a lot of monkeying around to connect most apps to Zoom. Zoom Apps are more of an administrator function and part of managing Zoom for multiple hosts so they’re outside the scope of this book.
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.