Despite a few security wobbles, Zoom remains a firm favourite with people looking to video chat with friends, family and colleagues.
And it’s easy to see why. The software is reliable and requires virtually no tech-savvy to operate. The free plan even lets you cram in 100 people on a call, so it’s a useful tool for both lecturers and people with really, really big families.
We’ve pulled together an easy how-to-use guide below, and thrown in some extra tricks and tips at the end for good measure.
How to start a Zoom meeting
First, you need to set yourself up with a Zoom account, which you can create here. You can’t start a meeting without this, but your co-workers don’t need to have accounts to join you (more on that below.)
Next, you’ll probably want to download the Zoom app. It is possible to use Zoom without downloading this, but if you’re going to save yourself a lot of hassle we recommend installing it.
Once that’s done, open the app on your phone or laptop and simply click ‘New Meeting’ to start a call. If you want to schedule a meeting for the future, there’s a button for that too, which you’ll find on the starting page of the app.
Related: Zoom vs Google Meet
How to join a Zoom meeting
If you’re joining a Zoom meeting rather than hosting one, then you’ll need to grab the details from the host.
They should also be able to find a unique meeting ID for the video chat. If it’s a scheduled meeting, they can find this by looking at their Zoom calendar, which is displayed when they either launch the app or navigate to the Meetings section of their Zoom profile.
If they need to grab the details from a live call, the ID will appear on the top of their video – ask them to ping this over to you. You can then punch this in to access the call via the ‘Join Meeting’ section on the Zoom app or website.
Related: Best ways to video chat
How to use Zoom without the app
There is a way to start and join Zoom calls without downloading anything, but you will need to sign up for an account.
Annoyingly, this applies to people who just want to participate in a call too – you can either avoid downloading the app and sign up to join a call, or avoid signing up and download the app to join calls. Zoom won’t let you dodge both options completely.
So if you’re avoiding the app, you’ll need to sign up and sign in to Zoom via the website. Once that’s done, you should be able to click ‘Host a Meeting’ or ‘Join a Meeting’ at the top of the Zoom website homepage.
From here, it gets a bit fiddly. After launching or joining a call, there’s a pop-up box that will prompt you to download the Zoom app. Click cancel on this, and you’ll see a small line of text appear that reads: “If you cannot download or run the application, start from your browser.”
Click on the highlighted blue text (shown below in a screengrab), and you should be able to launch your call via the web.
Related: Is Zoom safe?
How to use Zoom without an account
The bad news is you definitely do need an account to host a meeting. But as mentioned above, you can join a call without signing up to Zoom, as long as you’re willing to download the app.
Once you’ve done this and launched the application, ignore the sign in button and click ‘Join Meeting.’ You should then be prompted for a meeting ID and an on-screen name for the call.
Your host should know your meeting ID. If they invited you to the meeting via email, you should find the details there, or give them a nudge to send the digits across in a separate message.
Related: How to delete a Houseparty account
How to set meeting passwords on Zoom
There’s been a lot of worry about privacy recently after a spate of Zoom-bombings had people worried about unwanted visitors crashing their calls. One thing you can do to improve security is to set a password before your meeting starts and distribute to participants.
To do this, click on the ‘Schedule Meeting’ button when you launch the app, then scroll down to the password settings. This should let you type in a personalised code that people will need to input before joining your call.
Related: How to use Google Meet for free
How to turn off Zoom waiting rooms
Waiting rooms are automatically turned on in Zoom, which means that your participants will have to wait for your grand arrival before the video call kicks off.
While this is a nice little ego-boost, if you’re someone who frequently runs late, it’s probably a good idea to kill this feature. To do this, go to your Zoom settings page on your browser, then toggle on the ‘Join before Host’ option.
As a final side-note, Zoom is free for 40 minutes on group calls, but you can schedule as many meetings as you like. If you need to make longer calls, or if you need something that can host more than 100 people, you might need to fork out for one of the payment plans.