Protocol | Workplace

8 Zoom settings you didn’t know existed

We've been Zooming for over a year and a half now, but there are still some settings you've never heard of and that might change your life.

An illustration of people on a Zoom call.
Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

At this point in the pandemic, most people are Zoom pros. Even though every meeting still prompts a "you're on mute" comment, we rarely find ourselves accidentally turning into cats these days. Zoom is an essential tool in the hybrid workspace, connecting remote workers with those in-office. We know how to share our screens, how to use the thumbs-up reaction and how to blur our backgrounds. (Virtual backgrounds of beaches are very early 2020. Stop using them.)

And yet, there's still always more to learn. A deeper dive into Zoom's preferences unleashes a treasure trove of settings you may never have known existed. Here are eight Zoom settings that will make your life easier, and your meetings more fun.

Leave meetings in one click

When you want to leave a meeting on Zoom, usually you have to do it in two clicks. That's because in the General tab of Zoom's settings, the "ask me to confirm when I leave a meeting" checkbox is automatically selected. If you uncheck it, you can leave Zoom meetings in just one click, avoiding the confusion or mild annoyance of having to click "leave" twice. If you're looking for an endorsement on this particular feature, Protocol Workplace editor Megan Morrone said this setting "has given me a new lease on this wild and precious life."

Touch up my appearance

The "touch up my appearance" feature is under the Video tab in Settings. You can use it on a bad acne day to blur your skin and brighten your face. Once you click the checkbox, you can use the toggle to make the enhancement as subtle or dramatic as you want. Be careful with this one. People might take you a little less seriously if you look like a soft focus portrait from the '70s. Don't say we didn't warn you.

Suppress background noise

In the Audio tab in Zoom settings, you can control how much you want to suppress background noise. Zoom uses "Auto" as a default, but you can also choose between low, medium and high to minimize distraction from background noises.

Invite people with command+i

This is one of Zoom's many keyboard shortcuts, but could be considered one of the easiest and most useful. By clicking command "i" within a meeting, you can quickly invite contacts within your organization, or send an email to those outside of it. The pop-up invite window also allows you to copy an invite link or invitation, and see the meeting's passcode.

Edit shortcuts

You're not beholden to the keyboard shortcuts Zoom's created. You can browse the available commands and shortcuts in the Keyboard Shortcuts section of Settings. If none of them seem convenient to you, you can create your own shortcuts just by clicking them. And if your homemade shortcuts don't work, you can restore defaults easily.

Allow non-verbal feedback

To see the full settings options on Zoom, you click on "View More Settings" in the General tab. Once you're there, you can allow "non-verbal feedback." This tool lets users convey their thoughts without verbally interrupting a presenter. The available icons are yes, no, slow down, speed up and coffee cup. Zoom says the coffee cup icon means "I'm away," although we prefer to think that it means "spill the tea" or "you're boring me so much that I need more coffee." When you click an icon, it stays up until you click it again. If you have to run to the bathroom or grab coffee from downstairs during a meeting, you can leave the coffee cup icon up. You can also "raise your hand" while on Zoom, and choose reactions from the entire emoji library — unless the Zoom host only allows for selected emoji in meetings.

Help participants focus

Zoom launched Focus Mode on Aug. 25, gearing it mostly toward classroom use. But it can be useful for mass meetings where adults can get just as distracted as children. Focus Mode enables hosts to hide the video of participants from other participants, so that only the video feeds of hosts and co-hosts, plus the content they share, is visible to participants. You can turn on Focus Mode for any meetings you host in the full settings page on Zoom.

Remote control

In Zoom's full list of settings, you can enable remote control. This means that when someone shares their screen, they can allow participants to control their screen from afar. This can easily be used for casual tech help, or contributing to a collaborative doc or project. The screen-sharer can take back control whenever they want, if anyone starts to get a little frisky.

Put your co-workers in your water glass

Maybe you're tired of staring at a screen of Zoom boxes all day. If you want to place the videos of all your participants in a virtual setting, you can turn on the immersive view in the full list of settings. It allows the host to place participants in different virtual scenes, like a lecture hall or kitchen table. Zoom can place participants automatically, or you can place them manually. You can even place people on different parts of your own screen — on your head or in your water glass, for example. Or a less distracting option: In the IRL conference room where you're holding a meeting, if you still do that sort of thing.

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