A Quick Guide to Using Zoom

This guide was originally produced by the Context Institute to whom full credit should be given. Modifications (in red) have been made to make it more useable for U3A.

This guide is meant to introduce you to Zoom and how to use it. For more details, please go to the Zoom Help pages.

Some odd points about zoom.

Getting Started

Using Zoom is very similar to using Skype. We prefer Zoom because it seems to handle weak internet connects better than Skype.

To use Zoom you will need:

* If you don't have a video camera or microphone you can still join a meeting - you will be able to see and hear everyting but obviously will not be able to particpate.

We also encourage you to sign up for a free Zoom account. You only need to do this if you are going to be hosting a meeting - in a U3A context this probably means a Group Leader. Participants do NOT need to sign up for an account.


The easiest way to get started

When someone invites you to a Zoom call, they will likely send you a link that looks like https://zoom.us/j/1010101010 (not a valid link - for illustration purposes only).

If you are using a laptop or desktop computer and don't have the Zoom client yet, when you click on the link the client will automatically download and then connect you to the call. If you already have the client, you will just be connected to the call.

This usually works well but it takes a little time to go through the installation process, which may feel awkward if you are trying to be on time for a call. You may prefer to do the installation manually before the call. If you will be using smartphone or tablet, you will must to do the manual installation.


The manual way to get started - which is almost as easy

If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, go to https://zoom.us/download#client_4meeting where you can download the client for your machine. Use the first download link "Zoom client for meetings." Install it the way you would install any software.

If you are using a smartphone or tablet, go to the iOS App Store or Google Play, search for ZOOM Cloud Meetings and download the app. We encourage you to do this even if you are primarily using a computer - your phone or tablet serves as a useful backup.

Having the client installed before your first call assures you of a smooth start. Whichever path you take is a matter of personal preference.


Setting up a free account for meeting hosts only

You can be a guest on a call without any account but you need an account to host a call. We encourage you to sign up for a free account so that you can host calls, like for your triad.

You can sign up for a free account at https://zoom.us/signup .

Free accounts are actually quite feature rich. The main limitation with the free account is that group calls are limited to 40 minutes. This is more of an embarrassment for professionals than a true limitation since you can always just re-initiate the call after the 40 minute cutoff.

You can see the features of the free and paid accounts at https://zoom.us/pricing


Joining A Call As A Guest

The call host has sent a link

If the call host sends you a link that looks like https://zoom.us/j/1010101010 (but with a valid meeting ID - the nine, ten or eleven digit number at the end of the link), just click on the link and you can join the meeting.

This method seems to be a bit suspect, the following method is probably the more robust.

Using the Join dialog box

This next method is helpful if you don't have a link and either know the meeting ID (which is an eleven digit number that will have been included in the invitation email) or are joining a call to a host you've called before. (The meeting ID is the Zoom equivalent to a "phone number" for the host. You will need it one way or another to connect - in the link or as a number or stored in the client from a previous call.)

Open the Zoom client software before joining the meeting. A panel will appear that looks like this:


(The actual layout changes from time to time and may look slightly different on different devices.)

Click on the big turquoise button called "Join," which will open a dialog box that looks like this:


Enter the meeting ID if you have it or use the down-arrow (shown here in the red circle) to reveal a list of previous calls.

You can change your name that will identify you in the call in the second text box.

You shouldn't check either of the two boxes below the name.

Click Join and the video screen will open. Choose your audio connection and you are ready to go. You would normally choose Computer Audio.


Initiating A Call As A Host

If you are going to be the host for a call, you can start the call by clicking on the orange button called "Start with video" or just "New meeting". The video screen will open. Choose your audio connection and you are ready to go. It is probably best to send an invitation each time - although your number is always the same it is remotely possible that the participants have forgotten it.


Participating In A Call As Guest Or Host


Choosing your audio connection

When the video screen first opens, you get a dialogue box that looks like this: (on a phone you get the same options presented as popup boxes)


Most of the time you are likely to want to choose Join Audio by Computer. Just click the button.

If your computer or webcam doesn't have a microphone or if your internet connection is unstable, you can get your audio through a phone:


The popup with the flag (here shown inside the red circle) gives the number(s) to call for your country.


Note - I have not actually tried joining by phone so cannot verify how practical this is.

The Interface

When you move your mouse over the video window or tap it on a touch device, a toolbar shows up at the bottom of the screen. Moving from left to right:

This section is written for a larger screen device - on a phone some of the buttons (eg Mute) are visible the rest are in the popup menu that appears when you tap the "... More" icon.


Audio and Video


In the lower left corner of the screen you will find a microphone icon and a video camera icon.

You can use the microphone icon to mute your audio (helpful in group meetings). The upward arrow (^) to the right of it will open a popup menu with various audio settings and choices depending on your hardware.

You can use the video camera icon to turn off your video (helpful if your internet connection is weak). The upward arrow (^) to the right of it will open a popup menu with various video settings and choices depending on your hardware.


Central Buttons


In the center of the bottom of the screen are a series of buttons that allow you to

Please explore each of these buttons to see what they do. For more details, please go to the Zoom Help pages.


Leave or End Meeting

In the lower right corner is a button that allows you to leave a meeting (if you are a guest) or end the meeting (if you are the host). On a phone these will be in the top right hand corner.

for guests


for hosts


Speaker and Gallery Views


(On a computer) In the upper right is button that toggles back and forth between

Speaker View works well when the call involves up to four people. Gallery View works well for larger groups.

On a phone you can either get a full screen view of the current speaker (which switches dynamically) or a view of up to 4 participants by swiping to the left. If there are more than 4, swipe again. (rather annoyingly you seem to appear on every screen!). The number of little white dots at the bottom of the screen indicates how many swipes are available.


Tips and Troubleshooting

The biggest problem we've run into with using Zoom (or any online conferencing system) is weak and intermittent internet connections. Here are some things you can do if you are having this issue: