Zoom Tips 2020


Joe Dimino

Learning over Zoom is a new thing for all of us at Revere High. Nobody could have expected that we’d be out of school for over a year, but here we are. But now that we are here, it’s best to make the most out of it. Here are some simple, but effective, tips on how to get the most out of Zoom. These tips are optimized for Windows, however they will likely also work on Chromebooks as well as many of the features on Chrome OS are the exact same as Windows.


Tip #1: Minimizing Zoom

If you’re in a class and need to get work done for it, you can press the minimize button in the Zoom call. This will put your teacher’s camera into a smaller box that allows you to see the rest of your screen without losing track of what your teacher is saying or doing. This is very effective if your teacher isn’t screen sharing and is simply talking into the camera. Doing this doesn’t hinder you in any way either. By hovering your cursor over the box, you still have the ability to enable your microphone or your camera when needed, and you have the ability to go back to a full screen Zoom call if your teacher decides to start screen sharing.


Tip #2: Half and Half


This is a very universal tip as most computer operating systems allow this. By dragging your web browser window to the left or right edge of your screen, your computer will allow you to resize it along with your Zoom call so that both windows take up equal halves of the screen.

This is very useful if your teacher wants you to take notes online or wants you to follow along with work being explained through a screen share. You’ll have access to both Zoom and your web browser, providing you with the ability to do work and follow along with your teacher at the same time.


Tip #3: Virtual Backgrounds


Zoom has a virtual background feature that works with a green screen and without one. This feature comes in handy when you want to hide what’s behind you. For example, if you’re in front of a window and you have the sun causing your camera to glare, a virtual background can help you cover up some of the lens flare so people can see you more easily.


To access this on the computer version of Zoom, here’s what you need to do:

1. Open Zoom

  1. Click on your profile picture on the top right of your screen
  2. Click ‘Settings’
  3. Click ‘Background & Filters
  4. You can now upload any image or video file you want, and it’ll cover up what’s behind you.
  5. If you have a green screen, click ‘I have a green screen’.

You can also do this while in a call to enable or disable your virtual background.

While in a call:

1. Click the ‘^’ symbol above your camera button

  1. Click ‘Choose a Virtual Background’
  2. Upload your background of choice


Unfortunately Chromebooks are too weak to utilize this feature, there are workarounds, however many may be impossible due to the restrictions the school has already placed on Chromebooks in the past. This tip should work on Windows, MacOS, and most flavors of Linux as long as your processor is powerful enough to support it.


Tip #4: Tweaking Audio Settings


Zoom does a very good job of hiding its volume settings, so you have to look around for these settings to find it. If you just enter and leave classes without ever exploring Zoom, it’s likely that you’ve missed the fact that some of these settings even exist.


While in a call, you can press the ‘^’ symbol above your microphone button and press ‘audio settings’ at the bottom of the popup list. This will bring up an entire page of potentially useful settings.


Notable settings include the speaker volume setting. This allows you to raise the volume of the call if you’re struggling to hear people or alternatively you can lower the volume if the call is too loud for you. Another great setting is the ability to suppress background noise. By default, this is set to auto. However you can set it to medium or high if the auto setting isn’t helping on its own. This comes in handy if you have any pets in the background or younger siblings that you may have to take care of while attending class. This setting also helps reduce the noise of your keyboard while typing for everyone else in the call, which is a normal problem in less expensive, clackier, keyboards.


Tip #5: Take Control of Your Camera


Zoom allows you to automatically disable your camera any time you join a Zoom call. By default, Zoom will turn your camera on as soon as you join a Zoom call, but in the Video Settings tab, you can change this. By enabling “Turn off my video when joining meeting,” your camera will no longer turn on whenever you join a meeting. You can manually turn your camera on when necessary, but you’ll never be caught off guard by your camera turning on automatically.


Tip #6: Gallery View


Gallery view is a setting that’s great for anyone who wants to see everyone in the meeting at the same time. Rather than having only five people show up at once, Gallery view allows you to see up to 49 people on one page.


To enable this feature, go to ‘Video Settings’ (inside the ‘^’ button in the top right of your Stop/Start Video button) and enable “Display up to 49 participants per screen in Gallery View.” This is helpful if you’re having a class discussion or you just find it easier to understand what’s going on when you can see everyone. Rather than only seeing one person’s camera at a time, you can see everyone.


Tip #7: Hiding People That Don’t Show Video


In many classes, your screen will get cluttered by gray boxes that only show people’s names. You can tweak a setting in Zoom to only see people that have their videos turned on, so you’ll never have to keep your screen cluttered by people who may not even be there.


You can find this setting within the ‘Video Settings’ tab, found by clicking the ‘^’ button within the ‘Start/Stop Video’ button. Within your video settings, scroll down and enable the ‘Hide nonvideo participants’ setting. This will instantly hide anyone in the call that doesn’t have their camera on, no matter what view (Gallery or Normal) you have Zoom in.


Tip #8: Recording Meetings


You can record any meeting you’re in on Zoom. On computer, this feature is available for both free and paid users, however on mobile it’s only available for paid users. Right next to the ‘Share Screen’ button in a Zoom call, there’s a ‘Record’ feature. All recorded meetings can be uploaded to your Google Drive for easy storage.


This come in handy if you want to take notes after a meeting or you can’t be at the screen and don’t want to miss anything. However it’s a good idea to be courteous to your fellow students and teachers by asking the teacher beforehand if you can record. If you get the go-ahead to record a meeting, you can go back to it at any time and take any notes you need.