Computer set up for Zoom

Part one, section 4

This guide assumes that your device is connected to the internet, usually via wifi or wired connection to your broadband router. Using mobile data, e.g. on smartphones, can also work but could be expensive unless you are sure this is covered by a monthly contract.

Good-enough audio (microphone) and visual (camera) capabilities shouldn’t be too much of a problem for most.

  • If phone calls work on your smartphone, then it is highly likely that it is ready for use. You just need to know where the device camera is – there is likely to be one forward facing and one on the back. In a Zoom meeting tap the icon shown right (on the left of the top toolbar) to switch between cameras. Tablets may only have one camera, but otherwise they are basically the same as smartphones – with a larger screen and often no phone network connectivity.
  • Familiarise yourself with the volume control as you may want to increase speaker volume (but not so loud that you get feedback when in the meeting).
Windows speaker icon in the tray
  • Modern laptops have (basic) camera and microphone built in, unless they are really going for minimal/cheap, so they should have been ready to go straight out of the box. Typically, the camera is in the top middle of the screen casing. A few have retractable shutters over the lens for privacy, or you might perhaps have activated privacy settings which switch off mic or camera. But otherwise things should be fine. Find how to access the volume control (e.g. left).
  • Desktops tend to need a webcam connected to them, usually via a USB port. This tends to sit on the top of your screen, and can be adjusted up or down. Modern ones are very good at self-installing once they are plugged in, although this can take a minute or two. Some all-in-one computers such as iMacs, or add-on screens, may have a camera and mic built in.
Logitech webcam placed on top of an add-on screen, plugged in to laptop. Green light shows it is active.

Video quality depends on various factors, such as speed of your wifi or broadband connection, or if there is network congestion (which could be local, over your ISP’s cables or perhaps at the Zoom end).

Make sure you are comfortable, can see the screen and are able to tap it or click a mouse. Nice to have the camera pointing roughly horizontally towards your face, but don’t make a song and dance about this! Also ensuring a reasonable amount of light is sensible, if you want to be seen that is.

Audio-visual testing

cropped toolbar image, Windows

On PCs there is a test feature under Settings – look at the Video and Audio sections. On PCs you can also access audio and video tests when in a meeting by selecting the up arrow ^ by the side of the microphone/mute or video toolbar icons.

Settings Image (Windows) – camera off in system privacy settings, virtual background on in Zoom

If there are any issues, such as no video shows, check the System Settings section below.

Zoom audio settings on Windows – click on Test buttons!

Check speaker (output) volume is adequate – you may need to raise it a little. However, note that too high and you may get feedback if your microphone is on.

Finding your system settings

  • Windows Laptop using the search box (in taskbar, bottom left of desktop screen – if hidden, right click on a blank part of the taskbar and go to Search>Show search icon):
    • Type ‘Camera’ into search box, select ‘Camera App’ and ensure it is working.
    • Type ‘Sound’ into search box, select ‘Sound Settings’.

Check the volume percentage for the Output device – test if possible. If in doubt, put it up towards 100%, but be prepared to tweak further.

Also check that the Input Device shows a microphone – there may be a dropdown menu to select from. If there is a test facility for this, check it is working (auto volume control is usually adequate).

  • Mac or other laptop: if you don’t know how to find audio visual settings another way, then use the cog wheel icon (like the image, right) to access the main Settings. Find and check Camera, Sound input and output.
  • Tablets and smartphones. Microphone and video/camera settings may be adjusted by the device automatically. You could look for the cog icon, then search for Sound – microphone settings may then be obvious or under a further heading (e.g. audio, accessory, input …). The camera settings may be tucked away in the camera app.

Note that some computer models may have their own system settings – for example the Lenovo Vantage utility has privacy settings for both microphone and camera. If your system was set up for you e.g. by your offspring etc. then you may need to ask if they have altered anything here.

Advanced users may have their own way of doing things – please do the three checks of camera, mic, speakers.              

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