Have you found these brilliant features in Zoom?

Zoom features
Zoom in: there's a lot more to Zoom then meets the eye

Most people have learnt how to add funky virtual backgrounds, but do you know how to really get the best from Zoom? Well, unlike 99.9% of the world’s population, I’ve been using Zoom since before Coronavirus was “a thing” so I know where Zoom’s best features are hidden.

So, strap yourself in and prepare to be fact-bombed. Zoom calls will never be the same again.

Getting ready for your call

Whether you’re using Zoom to chat to friends or for an important work meeting, having your webcam and microphone switched on as soon as the meeting starts can be unhelpful. You may be waiting for the meeting owner to start the meeting… waiting… suddenly the meeting bursts into life and you’re caught shouting at the kids or with a finger buried deep into your nostril.

Consider changing the defaults so that both are switched off when the meeting starts. Then you can switch them on when you’re a lot more prepared.

On the desktop app

  • Settings > Video
  • Tick “Turn off my video when joining a meeting”
  • Settings > Audio
  • Tick “Mute microphone when joining a meeting”

On the mobile app

  • Settings > Meetings
  • Switch on “Always Mute my Microphone”
  • Switch on “Always Turn Off My Video”

Virtual make-up

It’s early and you’re having to appear on a video call. You don’t look your best. Thankfully, there’s an option for that – a virtual makeover.

In reality all this does is add a soft focus to your tired fizzog and I find it looks like I’m wearing too much foundation. To preserve my alpha male status (ahem), I leave it switched off but you may find it beneficial.

On the desktop app

  • Settings > Video
  • Select “Touch up my appearance”.

On the mobile app

  • Settings > Meetings
  • Switch on “Touch Up My Appearance”

Getting more on screen

When using the gallery view in the desktop app, you see thumbnails of those taking part in the video call. But how many do you see? If it’s 25, you could boost this to 49 (why the odd number? They display in a 7×7 grid).

49 is only supported on certain hardware, though – the main prerequisite appears to be having an Intel i7 processor or equivalent.

The best way to check is to head into Settings > Video and then look for the option named “Display up to 49 participants per screen in Gallery View”. If it’s unticked and it allows you to tick it, then you can do this and boost your gallery count.

If you can’t tick that box (see below) then, sadly, your hardware isn’t up to spec. Sorry.

Mirror your video

Watching yourself on video can be confusing, particularly when you’re trying to point to something and your video self, mirrored, points where you’re not expecting them to.

One solution is to mirror the view, which means if more accurately reflects what your brain expects.

The downside to this is that any writing seen on video will now be reversed, so that t-shirt with the funny slogan will be a loss to comedy.

On the desktop app

  • Settings > Video
  • Tick “Mirror my video”

On the mobile app

  • Settings > Meetings
  • Switch on “Mirror My Video”

Turn yourself off

If the previous tip isn’t enough to stop yourself getting annoyed at the constant sight of… yourself, then why not just get rid of that annoyance once and for all. No, I’m not talk about sticking your head in a gas oven, but switching off your own video view (you can’t see yourself but everyone else can).

  • When a video call is in progress, click on the three horizontal dots in the top right-hand corner of the video of yourself
  • Select ‘Hide Self View’.

To bring yourself back:

  • In the top right-hand corner of the Zoom window there is a “Show Self View” button
  • Click on this button to bring your view back again

Pin them down

Normally, with Zoom, the current speaker will be the video in focus. However, it’s possible to “pin” any participant, making them the active view (for you) at all times. Additionally, if you’re recording a video call, only this participant will be recorded.

Why would you use this? Let’s say, you’re in a meeting and you’re using the Speaker View option – the main video is the speaker with just a thumbnail of everyone else. But, because of background noise, other people keep being shown in the main view. Now, you can just pin the genuine speaker and that won’t change.

To pin a participant:

  • Click on the three horizontal dots in the top right-hand corner of the participants video
  • Click on Pin Video

To reverse this, head into the same menu to un-pin them.

NOW READ THIS: Where are Zoom meetings saved?

About the author

David Artiss

Works for Automattic Inc., the company behind and Tumblr. Tech geek, international speaker and occasional PC Pro podcaster. Lover of Lego and video games.

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