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Zoom: The App that Makes the Quarantine Easier

 During a period many of us are either working from home or staying at home at all times without seeing our family and friends, it's important to know about all the options you have for mass communication, by which we mean meeting with more than one person at once by video. For that, many people use popular chat apps like Skype. However, apps like that are not made to have a large number of participants, and even when they do it's usually not very fun to use. We wanted to recommend Zoom. It's a free app (for most purposes) and is one of the easiest apps there are to use. These days, under the Corona threat, Zoom could be an easy way to keep in touch with everyone and even do things 'together'. In this article, we will explain the advantages of this communication app, as well as provide a detailed guide for using it.
Zoom app screen

Advantages of Zoom
You must be wondering why you should use Zoom and not the applications you already have. Here are the benefits of Zoom:

Ease of use: The app is built to be user-friendly, especially for people not fluent in technology, allowing users to quickly get into conversations.

Availability: It can be used just as easily from your computer, laptop, tablet or phone. Setting appointments for conversations on any of these will be retained on all your devices' Zoom apps.

The number of users in a conversation: Zoom allows you to have conference calls with up to 1,000 (!) people, allowing you to view up to 49 people on your screen at once. So, for example, your whole family can see everyone else at once, as if you are sitting in the same room. You can also chat textually with any of those people or all at once at the same time.

Recording: A wonderful option the app has is recording the conversations (both sides will know) so you can watch your favorite moments again and again, or look over instructions someone relayed you.

Security: The app locks your records and encrypts them so they cannot be hacked.

Saving history: You can save up to 10 years of chats and conversations.

Sending files: You can send files through the chat or the video conversations.

Length of meetings: The free version of this app allows you to talk up to 40 minutes, which is enough for most purposes. You can then disconnect and start again. For longer conversations, you will have to purchase the app.

Zoom app screen


However simple an app Zoom is, we'd like to give you some basic instructions just in case. We will be using the screens from the desktop version of the program. First, to download it, click on the appropriate link below:
1. The first screen you'll see on the computer will give you 2 options: Join a Meeting or Sign In.
zoom welcome scren
To enter a virtual meeting, you'll need to click on Join a Meeting. Once you do, a new window will open, asking you to put in the Meeting ID. This is a code the person who invited you to the conversation needs to give you in order for you to log into that conversation [1]. In the line below is your user name [2], which will appear in the conversation and which you can change as you like. The same window will show you a few more options, such as muting your end or turning off the video screen [3] so you're not seen or heard. Note: If you miss this choice and chose the other option, you can still join a conversation from the main menu of the application. So don't panic!
Zoom app join screen
The second option the first window will show you is the aforementioned Sign in option. This option, when clicked, will open a new menu. In the lower right corner you'll see Sign Up Free - here you can open your own user with a name and password. You can also use your existing Gmail or Facebook profiles as logins instead of opening a new user for Zoom.
Zoom app welcome screen
2. After registration or logging in, you'll get to the Main Menu, which will have some options for you. Here's an explanation of the main ones:
Zoom app main screen

New Meeting: Starting a new meeting. We will elaborate on this option below.

Join: Joining an existing conversation. This is the same option as in the first window. You'll need the meeting ID to join.

Schedule: Organizing and scheduling meetings. We will elaborate more on this option below.

Share Screen: Sharing your desktop screen with someone else, so the person can see what you are seeing. To do so, you'll need the Meeting ID given to you by the other person.

In addition, you can find these 4 options on the upper or lower bar of the application - 

Home: Back to the main menu from any window you are in.

Chat: Chatting with your Zoom contacts.

Meeting: Seeing all your meetings ahead in chronological order. By clicking on Start, you can begin a virtual meeting.

Contacts: Seeing your contact list, which you can sort according to different variables. 

Zoom app contact screen

3. We will now introduce you to one of the most important aspects of Zoom - the video chat. 
First, click on the main page on the New Meeting button. This will open your camera and in a few seconds you'll see a little message asking you if you'd like to have the conversation with sound. If you don't want to be heard, close it and stay only with video. If you change your mind and do want to be heard, click on Join Audio in the lower left corner of the window at any time during the conversation.

If you'd like to see the video chat in full size, click on Enter Full Screen located in the upper right side of the window. In addition, if you want to give your meeting ID number to others, you can find it in the upper part of the window.

If you hover with your mouse over the screen at this stage, you'll be shown all the options available on the lower side of the screen. Note this applies only to the desktop edition, not mobile.

Zoom app video chat options

Join Audio: Returning audio if you chose to mute it.

Stop Video: Will stop showing you but you can still be heard.

Invite (in the mobile app under participants): Inviting other contacts from your list on the application or by using their email address. The email will include all the details needed to join the conversation, including the link to it and the Meeting ID they will need to have in order to join.

Manage Participants (in the mobile app - participants): Showing the list of participants in the conversation. The menu has various options, such as muting or unmuting. There is a More option at the bottom for more advanced options.

Share Screen (in the mobile app - Share): Sending various kinds of files to any or all participants. The default will show you the Basic tab, but if you go to Files, you can share dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft one drive files. You will need to give Zoom permission before being able to do so.

Zoom app share file

Chat (In mobile app can be found in Participants): Having a group chat with the conversation participants.

Record: Recording the conversation. The default will record without sound, but a window will jump asking you if you'd like to record audio as well. 
Note: This option only exists in the computer version at this time.

Reactions: Here you can send fancy graphic icons to the other participants. 

End Meeting: Ending the meeting if you created it, or leaving the conversation if you joined an existing one.

Most options can be closed with another click on the button that activated them, or on the little X, they come with.

4. One of the useful features of the app is managing your meeting/conversation diary. To use it, go back to the main menu and select Schedule, which is located right under New Meeting. A window called Schedule Meeting will open, where you can put in the date, time and duration of the future meeting, including any other important details. 

Note: The default is Outlook calendar, if you are using another calendar such as Gmail, you'll have to change it manually.

Zoom app schedule screen
Clicking on Schedule at the bottom of the menu will take you to the virtual calendar you've defined (e.g. Outlook or Gmail). From there, you can invite other participants to the future meeting, where it says Add Guests. They will get an invite by email with all the relevant details they'll need to join the conversation when it takes place, such as Meeting ID.
5. Now, as you return to the main menu, you'll see your meeting schedule as well. This way you never have to miss one.

We hope you enjoy using Zoom to communicate with your loved ones during these difficult times!

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