How do I get started?
Zoom works on many devices: Windows PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets, with some interface and feature distinctions among devices. You can download desktop software for Zoom on a computer at zoom.us. Or get the iOS and Android app versions in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
You can also take part in a Zoom call through your web browser, albeit with more limited functionality (for example, you can’t schedule onetime or recurring meetings.)
Usually, you will not need an account to join a Zoom meeting, but one is required to host your own conference.
You may also have to register to take part in meetings, webinars or other sessions.
How will I see other people?
There are two common layouts: speaker view, in which the active speaker takes up most of the screen, and gallery view, with thumbnails of participants laid out as a grid. On a laptop or desktop computer, the control to toggle between these views is toward the top right corner of the Zoom window. On a tablet the control is on the upper left — you may have to gently tap the screen to see it. You will see all participants’ live video feeds if they have enabled their camera. In the absence of video, you will see a dark rectangle with the person’s name or initial.
Should I mute my microphone?
If you are not about to speak, yes, especially if you are with other people. Screaming teenagers and barking dogs are a distraction.
“I think that the mute button is everybody’s friend,” says Marisa Giorgi, director of curriculum development at Senior Planet, which offers free Zoom training for older adults. You will know that the mic is muted when a red slash appears on top of the microphone icon. Remember to tap or click the icon to unmute when it is time for you to pipe up. Worth noting: Hosts have the power to mute all the participants.
What about chatting and screen sharing?
Another way to contribute to the conversation is to type comments or questions in the chat box. You can enter comments for all to see or direct them to an individual. Be careful, though, because while a one-to-one comment can be seen just by the person you are sending the message to during the meeting, the host can download the chat transcript once it is over. Avoid snide remarks you would not want to be seen later. “We remind people that it’s only private in that moment,” says Breana Clark, who runs Zoom training sessions for Senior Planet.
If you need to collaborate or want to show something off (pictures, recipes), you can share the contents of your computer screen. For security reasons, the host can prevent users from sharing their screens.