Using Zoom on your computer: Essential Tips and Tricks for Power Users

Seems that since the beginning of the pandemic we all seem to spend significant amount of time on Zoom. It seems that everyone pretty much know how to host and join a Zoom meeting and now it’s the time to take your Zoom productivity to the next level. In this comprehensive guide we wanted to provide the essential tips to help you becoming a Zoom power user and make the most of your videoconferencing and chat experience. If not indicated otherwise, the tips below are fully applicable for both Windows (7,8,& 10) computers and macOS.

Basic tips and tricks

Use Virtual Backgrounds

One of the coolest features of Zoom and other videoconferencing tools is the ability to customize the background of your video. You can upload custom images and then apply video filters as needed.

Change your Zoom display name

If you are sharing your Zoom account with a family member, you might want to modify your display name that is shown in meetings. Doing that is pretty simple:

  • On your web browser sign in to your Zoom website. Along this post, we’ll refer to this website as the Zoom Web portal.
  • In the left hand side navigation hit Profile (it’s in the Personal Section).
  • Then hit the Edit button at the right hand side to your profile pic.
  • Modify the display name as needed and hit Save Changes.

Note that you are also able to use a PowerPoint presentations as your virtual background.

Change your profile picture

Zoom makes it pretty easy for us to modify the profile picture. From the Zoom web portal, navigate to the profile page. Then, hit the Change button next to your current profile image. Then Upload a new pic from your computer hard drive, iCloud, OneDrive, Dropbox or other online file storage. Once done, hit Change.

Recording your meeting

Zoom allows you to record your video meetings and store them locally on on the cloud (for users of all paid Zoom subscriptions). You can then distribute them with your audience for later viewing or reference. Recording is pretty simple:

In your Zoom Meetings desktop app, launch your meeting, then hit the record button in the meeting menu, as shown below:

Don’t forget to pause or stop the recording as required. Once done your files will be converted to the mp4 format for video and m4a for audio.

Where does Zoom save the recordings?

By default, the recordings will be kept in a folder named Zoom located under Documents in your Home Directory (for both Windows PCs and MAC). The folder is created when you installed the Zoom Meeting desktop client.

Setting meeting reminders

Keep forgetting about your Zoom meetings? Zoom can easily send you desktop reminders ahead of your meetings so you can make it on time.

How to set reminders? From your Zoom Desktop client, go to the Home tab and hit the Settings cog icon in the right, then in the General tab, make the setting show below.

Integrate with Outlook

Do you use both Microsoft Outlook and Zoom? If so, you could potentially use the Outlook integration to setup your Zoom meetings right from Microsoft Office.

You can even set Zoom as your default chat and meeting application (from Settings>> General tab)

Use Zoom Keyboard shortcuts

Once you get more experienced, you can get your productivity to the next level by using keyboard shortcuts.

The shortcuts are defined in the Settings tab.

The most useful ones are: ALT +V to start and stop the video , ALT+S to share your screen and ALT+A to mute or un-mute the Audio.

Stop Push Notifications

If you are using Zoom for group or 1:1 chat, you probably get quite bit pop up banner alerts. Desktop notifications are not everyone’s cup of tea as they harm your ability to focus. We have written a useful guide on how to stop Zoom popup alerts, which you might want to look into if you want to minimize notification noise from Zoom.

Change your audio device while in the meeting

Zoom Meetings identifies the audio devices connected to your PC or Macbook, and allows them to use those in your meeting. If interested you can switch your Mic or Speaker, you’ll need first to connect them via cable or Bluetooth to your computer. Then hit the small arrow available at the Mute /UnMute button (the leftmost button in your Zoom meeting Controls bar). Then pick the audio device you would like to use. In our case we can either use our Logitech headset or the AirPods.

Find what is your Zoom Version

Can’t find a specific feature in your Desktop client? Zoom continuously releases new versions of the product with new capabilities and security features. The Zoom version you are using is visible at the bottom of the login dialog as shown below. It’s a good idea to update your Zoom client by downloading the current version available at the Downloads page.

Secure your meeting

Ensuring online safety and privacy of yourself and your audience when videoconferencing or talking to others should be your prime concern.

Use common sense and online privacy best practices you would employ when using a web based application. Leverage the following Zoom capabilities to safeguard your privacy and safety in videoconferencing:

  • Always use a waiting room and admit only people you know into your meeting.
  • Once your attendees joined, make sure you lock the meeting.
  • According to your audience consider to restrict screen sharing only to the meeting host.

The capabilities mentioned above can be accessed through the Security button in the Zoom meeting control.

Note: You can also use the Zoom web portal to enable mandatory waiting rooms for your Zoom account (Free and Paid). Navigate to the Settings page of the Personal section. Then pick the Meeting tab and enable the feature as shown below.

Becoming a Zoom Power user

Always show the meeting controls

By default the Zoom meeting controls appear only when you hover on the Zoom client. That said, there is a little know setting that allows to always show the meeting controls.

Open your Zoom Settings page (hit the cog at the Home page of your Desktop client; or hit your Zoom avatar and hit Settings). Then in the General tab, mark the Always show meeting controls check box.

Starting Zoom with your computer

If you are a heavy Zoom user, you might want to have the Zoom desktop client running automatically when starting up your computer.

The useful Setting application helps us to either open the Zoom client whenever Windows startup, or alternatively launch the application but keep it minimized in the task bar for usage.

Touch up your video appearance

Another useful Zoom setting is the video appearance Touch up. Here’s how to enable that:

  • Connect your video camera.
  • Open your Zoom desktop client.
  • Then open the Settings page.
  • Go to the Video page and mark the Touch up box.
  • Next, use the slider to apply minor touch ups to your video. Your settings will be remembered for subsequent meetings you host or join.

Change your recording location

We saw earlier that on Windows and macOS, your Zoom recordings are by default kept in your home Directory Documents folder. That said, you are able to modify that default location quite easily right from your Desktop client Settings menu. We have a complete guide to customize your Zoom recording locations.

Enable multi screen sharing

You might have meetings in which you might want to co-present with other participants. How to enable that? From your Zoom meeting controls, hit the Share Screen and then mark the Multiple participants option as shown below.

Using the Whiteboard

White boarding is a critical collaboration feature. You can easily set up a whiteboard and take your team collaboration to the next level.

Hit the Share Screen button and then select the Whiteboard option and hit the Share button. Then, use the canvas to outline your ideas and share with others.

Once done, you can easily save the whiteboard content as a PDF or png graphics file.

Annotate your meeting

There are cases in which you might need to annotate the presentation that you are sharing in your Zoom Meeting to strengthen your point.

Once you start sharing, you’ll notice the Annotate button in the upper side of your Zoom Meetings windows.

Annotating Zoom presentations

Using the Annotation capabilities is straightforward, and similarly to Whiteboards, you can export your annotations to a file.

Use Zoom Breakout Rooms

Zoom Meetings allows to break your audience into smaller ad-hoc sub teams.

First off enable breakout rooms in the Settings page Zoom web portal.

Next, using the newly added Breakout Rooms button in your in meeting controls, define the required breakout rooms and assign your participants.

Note: Breakout rooms in Zoom are included also in the Free plan.

Setting up a poll

If you are on a paid Zoom plan, you are able to easily create polls and surveys. Your next step is to launch the poll right from the Zoom meeting bar.

Another option you might want to explore is use a 3rd party application such as SurveyMonkey to run surveys right from a Zoom Chat Channel.

Using Microsoft Teams

If your organization uses Microsoft Teams but you have customers or supplier using Zoom you can still efficiently collaborate. The Zoom app for Microsoft Teams, allows you to video-conference and chat on Zoom right from your Teams channel. The app is freely available in the Zoom Marketplace and has to be enabled via the Zoom website under the Advanced >> App Marketplace section.

Wrapping up

Well, that was quite a lengthy tips and tricks list which hopefully helps you make the most out of Zoom. If the guide was helpful, feel free to share it on social media. If you have questions, comments and additional great tips to propose, leave us a comment. Thanks 🙂