Before the pandemic, many companies already used the Zoom video conferencing app for business meetings, interviews, and other purposes. These days, many individuals who face long days without contact with friends and family have moved to Zoom for face-to-face and group meetings.
This is a quick guide for those who have not yet tested Zoom or who are not yet familiar with its features (or who have used it with friends but want to start initiating their own meetings). It contains tips on how to get started with the free version. One thing to keep in mind: while one-on-one video calls can last as long as you like, group calls on Zoom are limited to 40 minutes. If you want longer calls without interruption (and want some extra features), you can either pay for the Zoom Pro plan ($ 14.99 per month); you can also try an alternative video conferencing app. (Note: It has been reported that 40 minutes is sometimes extended – at least one staff member from The border found that an evening meeting with five friends was sent an extension when the time started to run out – but there has been no official word on any change from Zoom.)
How to register for Zoom
The first thing you need to do, of course, is sign up for the service. You can do this either from your laptop or from your mobile phone. We cover the web service first.
- Go to Zoom’s registration page. You may first be asked to enter your date of birth. This is because if you are younger than 16, you cannot create a Zoom account unless it is for school.
- Then some options for creating an account are presented. At the top you can enter your e-mail in the box “Your e-mail address for your work.” If you do this, go to step two. Even if Zoom asks for an e-mail at work, a personal e-mail should work well. In March, it was reported that Zoom leaked some email addresses and user photos via Zoom’s contact directory feature because the app might believe that people with certain email domains work for the same company, but Zoom removed the domain matching feature in April.
- You can also create an account by clicking “Sign in with SSO”, “Sign in with Google” or “Sign in with Facebook”, then simply download the Zoom desktop app and proceed to step seven.
- If you entered an email, Zoom sends an activation message to that address. Click the “Activate Account” button in the email or copy and paste the activation URL into your browser to activate your account.
- On the page that opens in your browser, you will be asked if you register on behalf of the school. Assuming you are not, click the “No” button and then click “Continue”.
- On the next page, enter your first and last name and a password
- On the next page, you can invite others to create a free Zoom account via email. You can skip this step if you want.
- You will then receive a link to your personal meeting URL and you have the option to click on an orange “Start Meeting Now” button to start a test meeting. If you copy that URL to your browser or click the orange button, you should be prompted to download the Zoom Desktop app. Follow the instructions to install the app.
- After installing the Zoom app, you will see the buttons for “Join a meeting” or “Log in.” Click “Log in” to start your test session.
- On the next screen, enter the email address and password you just used to sign up for Zoom in your browser. If you registered with the “Sign in with Google” or “Sign in with Facebook” buttons, click these buttons here and follow the instructions.
- Once logged in, make sure you are on the “Home” tab, then click the orange “New Meeting” button in the Zoom app. Your meeting begins.
If you register for Zoom using the mobile app, the process is similar to how it is on the web. (We tested the registration process with the iOS app.)
- Download the iOS or Android app. When you open the app for the first time, you get the opportunity to attend a meeting, register for Zoom or log in to a Zoom account. Press “Register”.
- You will then be asked to confirm your age.
- Once you have done so, you will be asked to enter your email address and your first and last name on the next screen. Once you have done that, “Register” and you will receive an activation email.
- Press the “Activate account” button in the email you receive, or copy and paste the activation URL into your mobile browser
- From there, you will be asked to perform the same steps as described above to create an account, only from your mobile browser
- Once you have reached the screen that has your personal Zoom meeting URL and the orange “Start Meeting Now” button, press one of them and you will be taken directly to a waiting room for your test meeting in the Zoom app.
- To open the meeting, press the “Log in” button at the bottom of the screen. On the next screen, enter your login information and press the “Login” button.
- Your test meeting opens in the app
Start a meeting now
Once you have registered with Zoom and installed the app, it is easy to start a meeting.
Using the web app:
- Open the app
- Click the orange “New Meeting” button to start a meeting immediately. A video window opens and a pop-up window asks if you want to participate in the meeting with the computer sound and if you want to test the speaker and microphone. (If you no longer want to worry about that question, check the box at the bottom of the popup window.)
- To invite people to the meeting, find the toolbar that appears when you move the mouse in the meeting window and click the small arrow in the “Participants” button. When you do so, Zoom will open a window where you can invite your Zoom contacts, send an email with information on how to access your Zoom meeting, copy your meeting URL to the Clipboard, or copy a longer message with meeting URL and dial information to your clipboard. You can also find your meeting password in this menu. When you are done, click the “Invite” button.
Using a mobile app
- Tap “New meeting” in the app
- Choose if you want to start it with the video on and if you want to use your personal meeting ID (not recommended; see above). Then tap “Start a meeting.”
- To invite people to the meeting, tap “Attendees” on the bottom row of icons, then tap the “Invite” button at the bottom of the next screen. When you do, you will be able to send a messaging invitation through a variety of services such as Messenger, Messages or Gmail; invite your zoom contacts or copy the invitation link to your phone’s clipboard.
Schedule a meeting
Use the web app
- Click on “Schedule”
- A pop-up window gives you a variety of options, including the topic of the meeting, the time, if you will be using a “waiting room” (in other words, if each participant must ask permission to attend the meeting) and if it is a recurring Meeting
- If you click on “Advanced Options”, you can decide whether the participants can join before the host arrives, whether the participants should be turned off when entering and whether you want to automatically record the session
Note! You can choose whether you want a unique meeting ID to be generated automatically or whether you want to use your personal meeting ID (which does not change). We strong suggests that you do the former; by using a unique ID, you make it much less likely that you will be exposed to “Zoombombing”, which is when trolls take over your Zoom encounters.
The scheduled meeting will be displayed in the original zoom window, where you can start or delete it.
Using a mobile app
- Click on “Schedule”
- Set the date, time and time zone for the meeting and whether it should be repeated. Choose if you want to use your personal meeting ID. unless a unique ID is generated (we suggest you use it later; see above).
- Choose different security options, such as passwords and waiting rooms
- Under “Advanced options” you can select such options as letting participants join before the host or automatically record the meeting. You can also add it to a calendar.
- Tap “Done” (Android) or “Save” (iOS) in the upper right corner.
Invite people to your meeting
You can invite people to a Zoom meeting in a few different ways. If you are using desktop or mobile apps, click or tap the Meetings tab. From there:
- On the front of the desktop app, you should see your scheduled meeting on the right side. Click the three dots to the right of the meeting title, then select “Copy Invitation” to copy your Zoom meeting’s URL, ID, and phone call information to the clipboard. You can then drop it in an email or text message. You can also click the Meetings tab and click “Copy Invitation” on the screen.
- In the mobile app, tap the “Meetings” app at the bottom of the screen. When you press the “Send Invitation” button, you can send a message invitation through a variety of services such as Messenger, Messages or Gmail; invite your zoom contacts or copy the invitation link to your phone’s clipboard.
When using Zoom, be sure to check out our guides to keeping your Zoom meetings safe, find keyboard shortcuts, change your Zoom background (here are some free backgrounds you can use), and record your Zoom calls.
Updated October 9, 10:40 AM ET: This article was originally published on March 31, 2020; the instructions have been updated.