While many companies are already using the videoconferencing app Zoom for business meetings, interviews, and other purposes, individuals who are facing long days without contact with friends and family are moving to Zoom for face-to-face and group get-togethers.
This is a quick guide for those who haven’t tried Zoom yet, featuring tips on how to get started using its free version. One thing to keep in mind: while one-to-one video calls can go as long as you want, any group calls on Zoom are limited to 40 minutes. If you want to have longer talks without interruption, you can either pay for Zoom’s Pro plan ($14.99 a month).
How to register for Zoom
The first thing to do, of course, is to register for the service. You can do this either from your laptop or from your mobile phone. We’ll cover the web service first.
Go to Zoom’s sign up page. You’ll be presented with a few options for creating an account. At the top, you can enter your email in the box labeled “Your work email address.” If you do this, move on to step two. Even though Zoom asks for a work email, a personal email should work fine, but you should be aware that there have been reports of Zoom leaking some email addresses and user photos via Zoom’s Contact Directory because the app can think people with certain email domains work for the same company. However, Zoom blacklists some popular email domains like gmail.com and yahoo.com from automatically appearing in that directory.
You can also create an account by clicking the “Sign in with Google” or “Sign in with Facebook” buttons, after which you just download the Zoom desktop app and move on to step seven.
If you entered an email, Zoom will send an activation email 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 up in your web browser, fill in your first and last name and a password.
On the next page, you can invite other people to create a free Zoom account via email. You can skip this step if you want.
Next, you’ll be given a link to your personal meeting URL and will have the option to click an orange “Start Meeting Now” button to start a test meeting. If you copy that URL into your browser or click that orange button, you should be prompted to download the Zoom desktop app. Follow the prompts to install the app.
After you’ve installed the Zoom app, you’ll see buttons to “Join a Meeting” or “Sign In.” To start your test meeting, click “Sign In.”
On the next screen, enter the email and password you just used to sign up for Zoom in your browser. If you registered using the “Sign in with Google” or “Sign in with Facebook” buttons, click those buttons here and follow the prompts.
Once you’re logged in, make sure you’re on the “Home” tab, and then click the orange “New Meeting” button in the Zoom app. Your meeting will start.
If you sign up for Zoom using the mobile app, the process is similar to how it is on the web. (We tested the sign up process using the iOS app.)
Download the iOS or Android app. When you open the app for the first time, you’ll be presented with the options to join a meeting, sign up for Zoom, or sign in to a Zoom account. Tap “Sign Up.”
On the next screen, you’ll be asked to enter your email address, your first and last name, and to check a box to agree to Zoom’s terms of service. After you do, tap “Sign Up” and you’ll be sent an activation email.
Tap the “Activate Account” button in the email you receive, or copy and paste the activation URL into your mobile browser.
From there, you’ll be asked to complete the same steps outlined above to make an account, just from your mobile browser.
Once you get to the screen that has your personal Zoom meeting URL and orange “Start Meeting Now” button, tap either and you’ll be taken directly to a waiting room for your test meeting in the Zoom app.
To open the meeting, tap the “Sign In” button at the bottom of the screen. On the next screen, enter your login information and tap the “Sign In” button.
Your test meeting will open up in the app.
How to invite people to your Zoom meeting
Once you have an account, you can invite people to a Zoom meeting a few different ways.
If you’re using the desktop or mobile apps, click or tap on the Meetings tab. From there:
On the desktop app, if you click the “Copy Invitation” button on the screen, a message with your Zoom meeting’s URL, ID, and phone dial-in information will be copied to your clipboard that you can drop in an email or a text message.
On the mobile app, when you tap the “Send Invitation” button, you’ll be presented with three options: “Send Message,” which will let you text your meeting URL to someone; “Send Email,” which will open up an email with your meeting’s information; or “Copy to Clipboard,” which will copy your Zoom meeting’s URL and meeting ID to your phone’s clipboard.