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Zoom is a platform for online meetings. Zoom is really easy. Especially if you have experience with Skype or WebEx, you might be pleasantly surprised to come across a solution that just works.


Zoom is available for pretty much any platform:

  • As an app, called the Zoom Client, for Windows, Mac and Linux
  • As an extension for Chrome and Firefox webbrowsers
  • As a mobile app for Android and Apple mobile phones and tablets.

Go to https://zoom.us/download for downloads.

How to join a meeting

To join a Zoom meeting, you need:

  1. A Zoom Meeting ID, consisting of nine or ten figures, like 123-456-789 or 123-456-7890
  2. Sometimes a Zoom Password
  3. Naturally, the day and time that the meeting takes place
  4. The app or plugin installed on your computer or mobile device
  5. A microphone and headphone (or loudspeakers) on your device.

No zoom account needed

You can create a free Zoom account, but you don't have to: You can participate in meetings without an account. That's good news:

  • It makes it just a bit easier to participate in meetings
  • It enhances privacy.

Meeting ID, Password & URL

Zoom Meeting ID & Zoom Password are often incorporated in a Zoom URL, like


When following this link, Zoom will open in your browser (provided you have a Zoom plugin installed).

Alternatively, Meeting ID and password can be provided seperately, like

* Meeting ID: 123 219 123
* Password: BlubBlub

In this case, open the Zoom app on your device, or go to https://zoom.us/join in your browser, and enter the Meeting ID.

Be early

Meetings usually "open" some 15 minutes before the official starting time. Some reasons to make use of that extra time:

  • The Host has to let people into the meeting by clicking on a button. When the meeting has already started, the host is busy with hosting the meeting, and letting people in, becomes a hassle
  • Participants often forget to give themselves a name, so you may have some people in a meeting called "Galaxy" or "Android". The host can rename these people, but that takes name. Therefore again this is best done before the actual meeting starts
  • Use the time to check your microphone, headphone and video.

Headphones vs. Loudspeakers

The trouble with loudspeakers is, that they may cause feedback: The sound from the loudspeakers are picked up by the microphone, send again to the loudspeakers, picked up again by the microphone, etc. Before you know it, you just have a wall of sound.

With a headset, you don't have this issue. So do yourself and others a favor, and get a headset (if you didn't have one yet). Changes are, that the headset for your Android mobile phone, will also work on your computer.


You can easily recognise the veterans in online meetings: They are the folks that never have their microphone activated when they aren't speaking.

It often takes a bit of time to get this habit, but it is really usefull:

  • It's quite annoying for others to have to listen to your noice or whatever
  • It also makes you look not as smart as you really are.

Zoom makes it really easy to mute and unmute:

  • Keyboard: Alt a (Command a on Apple?)
  • Mouse: Click the microphone icon left in the Shortcut Bar.

Additionally, the Host can mute/unmute everyone at once with Alt m


Video is a nice extra, but by no means necessary, and surely not mandatory. Only use video when you are comfortable with it.

How to start a meeting

  • Create a Zoom account (or use somebody's else's account)
  • With creating a Zoom account, you automatically get a 'default meeting', like https://zoom.us/j/3860386123 - Anyone to whom you give this URL, can join you in your meeting, as long as you are there. Since it's your account, you're the so-called host, which means you have several superpowers
  • When you start with a free Zoom account (called Zoom Basic), there are two limitations:
    • Meetings can have max. 100 participants
    • meetings with 3 or more participants, are limited to 40 minutes
  • When Zoom Basic is too limited for you, you can upgrade to various paid plans. Amongst others, you can pay with PayPal.

Parts of Zoom

Most of the stuff in this chapter is only relevant if you want to be a really, really good chair. If you just want to participate in a meeting, you can dispense with all of this.

Main Window

The Main Window is where you usually spend most of your time during a meeting. Some parts that usually live here:

  • Gallery View: Video feeds of participants
  • Speaker View: Video feed of the speaker, maybe combined with some video feeds of participants
  • Shared Desktop
  • Whiteboard

The Main Window can be a split screen with various objects - Really handy!

Gallery View during a meeting with 37 participants. There are maximally 25 video feeds per page. Hence the control at the right side of the screen, to go to the second page with video feeds
A split Main Window with a Shared Desktop, Gallery View and Participants List

Shortcut Bar

The Shortcut Bar is the horizontal black bar, in this case at the bottom of the screen. It contains all major controls, including links to the Participant List and the Chat Box

Shared Desktop

  • Zoom has a desktop share or screen share function, where you can choose which part of your desktop is shared - really handy!
  • When sharing your screen (e.g., to share literature), for people who join through a mobile phone, stuff is still readible, as they can zoom in.

Participants list

The Shortcut Bar has a link Participants. When you click on it, a separate windows opens with a list of all participants, with several attributes. For business meetings, this list is indispensable. In large meetings, I would move this window to a separate computer screen.

The Participants List can be merged with the Main Window.

A Participant List of a meeting with 36 participants. Some of the things you can see here: The person on the first row is me. I have video and a muted microphone. The person on the second row is sharing his or her screen. The person on the fifth row, probably has an actual Zoom account, as he or she has an actual icon. At the bottom you can see, that you can raise your hand - Indispensible in large meetings! You can also rename yourself

Invite button

The Invite Button in the Shortcut bar produces a text like this, ready to be texted or emailed:

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 123 219 123
Password: BlubBlub

One tap mobile
+13462487799,,123219456# US (Houston)
+16699006833,,123219456# US (San Jose)

Dial by your location
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 253 215 8782 US
+1 301 715 8592 US
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 123 219 123
Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/123DHxoBs 

Some other functions


  • Only participants with the record privilege can record the Main Windows of the meeting, including audio
  • A sign Recording will be displayed on all participants' screens - So no secret recordings.


A meeting has a Host, usually the person who started the meeting. The Host has various functions that others don't have, like muting participants.

Keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts seem to differ from platform to platform.

Default keyboard shortcuts according to Zoom:

Shortcut Description
Ctrl \ Always show meeting controls
Alt v Start/stop video
Alt a Mute/unmute my audio
Alt m Mute/unmute audio for everyone except host (host-only shortcut)
Alt s Start/stop Desktop Sharing
Alt t Pause/resume Desktop Sharing
Alt r Start/stop local recording
Alt c Start/stop cloud recording
Alt p Pause/resume recording
Alt n Switch camera
Esc Enter/exit full screen mode
Alt u Show/hide Participants Panel
Alt i Open the Invite Window
Alt y Raise/lower your hand
Alt Shift r Begin remote control
Alt Shift g Revoke/give up remote control permission
Alt Shift t Make a screenshot
Ctrl w Close current chat session
Esc Close the Participants Pane or Chat Window (when they have the focus)

Verified keyboard shortcuts on Linux (Ubuntu, March 2020):

Shortcut Description
Alt a Mute/unmute my audio
Alt s Start/stop Desktop Sharing
Alt u Show/hide Participants Panel
Alt i Open the Invite Window
 ? Raise/lower your hand
Alt h Show/hide chat window

Reclaim host role

How to reclaim the host role:

  • On Android: With the menu bar at the bottom of the screen » "..." - Doesn't seem always to be present
  • Desktop/Linux: Participants pane » Button at the bottom Reclaim Host.

Share a Zoom-account

Two scenario's concerning sharing a Zoom-account:

One administrator - Multiple users

E.g., a company where the IT person schedules meetings for various departments, without being present him-/herself in those meetings.

Multiple administrators - Multiple users

E.g., on organisation with tens of people, and a staff of five people that can all schedule meetings for others.

The impossible way: Add users on your account (multiple administrators - multiple users)

When you schedule a meeting on a non-free account, you have the possibility to add alternate hosts. However, these alternative hosts need to be part of your account, like they are some kind of sub-account. Even then, I couldn't get it to work. Worse: I couldn't schedule any meeting anymore, because of this 'illegal' alternate hosts, which I couldn't delete anymore.

When I finally succeeded in deleting that alternative hosts from this account (it was a payed account from a friend, and my free account was the alternative host), it turned out that I lost my own Zoom-account.

I couldn't get beyond this screen, and even lost my Zoom-account!

The practical way: Host key (one administrator - multiple users)

Once a meeting is set-up, and others than the host can enter before the host, he or she can use the Host Key to become host. See the separate chapter about this.

Make someone co-host (one administrator - multiple users)

Very simple - Just via the Participants List

Share the account credentials (multiple administrators - multiple users)

Probably the most intuitive way to enable multiple people to manage a Zoom account: Share the account credentials (email address & password) amongst several people. Equally intuitively, this sounds like a really bad idea, but it doesn't have to.

An example of how I did this in March 2020:

  • Created a Gmail-account for this purpose (more precisely: I used an old Gmail-account that I still had lying around for something similar). This Gmail account contained no personal information about me
  • Created a Zoom account with a "non-personal" email address. This account too, was as impersonal as possible
  • Shared these Zoom credentials with a few people.

Concerning privacy, this is ok. But do people now have the power no mess or hijack the Zoom account? I don't think so:

  • You can't change the password without having access to the Gmail account - No worries concerning hijacking
  • They can mess up the account, but I don't have the impression that any real damage can be done - Besides: You need to have some trust in people.

And lastly, does this violate the Terms of Usage or whatever of Zoom? I didn't check it out. It's only a video-conferening app ;)

Using the Host Key

Every meeting has a so-called Host Key: A numerical code to claim the Host role.

Finding your Host Key

This is for the administrator/owner of the account:

Find your host key: Settings » General » View Advanced Features » Log into your online account » Profile » Scroll down to 'Host Key' » Show
Schedule a meeting. Make sure to check Enable join before host. Now give your host key to the person who is going to chair the meeting. Or just to everybody: You can't do much harm with only a host key. BTW: As you can see, this also works with a free (Basic) Zoom-account
If desired, you can later change your host key, at the same page as where you found it (it's hidden behind that pop-up thingy)

Claiming the Host role

At the bottom of the Participant List, there is a button Claim Host Role. Click it, and enter the Host Key to become Host.

  • This button seems to be only available as long as the owner of the account hasn't entered the meeting
  • If someone claims the Host Role, and the owner of the account enters the meeting, the Host Role isn't automatically transfered - Which enables owners of accounts to participate just as other participants.

Marathon meeting

Could you schedule a meeting with no end time, where anybody can just enter? Like a marathon meeting?

Well, not directly, as the limit of the duration of a meeting is 23 hours and 45 minutes.

But you can get close, by simply making it a recurrent meeting, or restart the meeting every day around the same time.