Getting more from Zoom

Part One, section 3

Optional but useful further information

You can switch between ‘Speaker view’ (showing what is being presented by the host or shared by others) and ‘Gallery view’, where you can see participants. On Windows, Mac, and iPad (?), this is a toggle button top right of screen. On Android, swipe left for gallery (and swipe right to get back). Next to this toggle (as image above) may be a ‘full screen’ button, if your device doesn’t automatically go into full screen for Zoom.

If ‘show my connected time’ setting is on, a timer will show top of screen. The meeting of course may have started before you joined – free use is usually limited to 40 minutes (3+ people). Malvern U3A can provide groups with access to a subscription licence for longer sessions.

Zoom can be used in a similar way to Skype or Facetime, by establishing contacts (using email addresses) and then ‘Chat’ or ‘Meet’ (video call) with them. You will each need to sign up for an account – invite people from your own ‘Personal Meeting ID’. The time limit doesn’t apply for one to one meet-ups.

Windows chat window.

‘Chat’ is also available in live meetings, connecting with the group or individuals, depending on how options have been set by the host. Unless the host has switched it off, you can add files (images, docs, etc.) as well as text. ‘Save Chat’ is hidden under 3 dots … at the bottom of the chat window. On handhelds, Chat option is via the ‘… More’ button.

Virtual backgrounds are available on PCs and iPads (depending on graphics processor). These work by identifying your head/body and replacing everything else with your chosen image, and perhaps work best with a reasonable quality webcam (otherwise your edges might get a bit blurred!). Find in Settings, or during meetings under Video options (PC), or More (iPad). You need to have a suitable image available. Filters can add silly hats or glasses, borders etc. (new Aug ’20). You can use a video rather than a still image, and from August 2020 slides too, but these could be distracting and also slow your device.

Don’t like seeing yourself in Zoom? When in a meeting, right click (Windows) on any thumbnail/gallery box and select ‘Hide Self View’. On handhelds, see under ‘… More’ for ‘Hide my Video in Gallery View’.

The meeting host has various controls for participants and features. For instance, ways to mute (switch off) everyone’s microphones or limit the Share facility.

Tweaking Settings or Preferences

Zoom setting controls are in various places, depending on the device you are using, whether you have an account and what you want to change. Fortunately, the default settings are generally fine for most purposes, so you shouldn’t need to spend time beyond those mentioned in these guides. Note: Apple Macs use the term Preferences rather than Settings.

There will be more setting options (for chat, contacts, own profile etc.) if you have created an account and signed in. Meeting hosts also have ‘In meeting’ controls – see Part 2 ‘Hosting Meetings’ if you need to know more.

See further on for Android (tablet/smartphone) settings and also options via the web portal.

On PCs, main settings are accessed via the little grey cog top right of Home screen (below) or via the drop-down menu from your profile icon (username initials if you haven’t set an image), top right.

Home screen (Windows), signed in to Zoom.
Drop-down menu (cropped) from the Profile button.

It would take several pages to give even an overview of all the setting controls on PCs, but at least it is quite easy to select the right area through the headings shown (next page).

For ‘Video’ settings see Computer set-up.

‘Profile’ links to your account online. ‘Statistics’ provides information, as does ‘Keyboard Shortcuts’ but this also has an ‘Enable Global Shortcut’ option to allow shortcut use “when the Zoom app is not in focus”.

On Android, access settings via the cog icon, bottom right of home screen (or top left when not signed in). You may want to tweak some of these, such as changing ‘Auto-connect to Audio’ to On.

Further controls are available via the web portal, assuming you have created a Zoom account. This is mainly for options when hosting a meeting. Sign in to your account (https://zoom.us/signin) and then find Settings in the side bar. Setting options are grouped under a number of headings: Schedule, In Meeting (Basic) and (Advanced). Hosts can, for instance, enable ‘breakout rooms’ or set options under the Recording tab.

Some of the web portal settings overlap with those available on PCs, so will be most helpful to those using handhelds.

Checking for updates/version number. The software should automatically check for updates, but there can be glitches.

On PCs find ‘Check for Updates’ via the profile icon drop-down.

On Android handhelds, go to Settings > About > Version – tap to discover any updates. If auto-updates from the Play Store haven’t done their job then it’s a good idea to check that they aren’t switched off.

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