11 Handy Zoom Hacks to Make Your Digital Life Easier

She forgot she muted herself.
She forgot she muted herself.
Matilda Wormwood, Pexels

After years of essays, group projects, and corporate strategy plans, you just might consider yourself an expert at using Google Docs, Microsoft Excel, and other popular programs. Video-chatting with Zoom, on the other hand, still feels like new territory for many workers who are spending more time working from home. From keyboard shortcuts to virtual breakout rooms, here are 11 handy hacks to make your Zoom meetings easier (and maybe even more fun).

1. Automatically disable video and audio when you join a Zoom meeting.

Sometimes it’s hard to predict whether or not your colleagues will decide to appear on video for any given meeting. To save yourself the awkwardness of being the only person to show your face, you can go into the “Video” tab of your Zoom settings and check the “Turn off my video when joining a meeting.” If it ends up being a true video chat, you can always turn your camera on after the meeting has started.

You can do this with audio, too, so you’re automatically muted at the beginning of every meeting. Under the “Audio” tab in settings, just check “Mute microphone when joining a meeting.”

2. Hold down the space bar to temporarily unmute yourself.

Another useful box to check under the “Audio” tab is “Press and hold SPACE key to temporarily unmute yourself.” That way, you’ll be heard for as long as you hold down the space bar, and Zoom will automatically mute you again as soon as you let go. It’s pretty similar to using a walkie-talkie.

3. Use existing keyboard shortcuts—or customize them.

Nothing makes you feel like a tech whiz more than a good keyboard shortcut.Ellen Gutoskey, Zoom

There’s an extensive list of handy keyboard shortcuts in your Zoom settings, including ones to mute and unmute your audio (Shift+Command+A on a Mac), start and stop screen-sharing (Shift+Command+R), and invite attendees (Command+I). If you find any of them particularly difficult to remember, you can come up with your own instead.

4. Enable keyboard shortcuts for when you’re in a different tab.

Toggling between tabs is par for the course when it comes to Zoom calls, and maybe you don’t want to leave your Google Doc to unmute yourself to make a quick comment. Fortunately, you can still use Zoom’s shortcuts when the Zoom app is hidden behind other windows. In the “Keyboard Shortcuts” tab in your settings, just check the “Enable Global Shortcut” boxes.

5. Automatically copy the invite URL when a meeting starts.

You can always use the keyboard shortcut (Command+I on a Mac; Alt+I for Windows) to open the meeting invitation window, where you can invite guests from your Zoom contacts, via email, or by copying the meeting URL and sending it to them through another platform. But there’s an even quicker way to achieve the same goal.

Under the “General” tab in settings, there’s an option to “Automatically copy invite link once the meeting starts.” Check that box, and the URL will magically be copied to your clipboard as soon as you join a Zoom meeting. (So when someone sends you the inevitable “What’s the meeting link again?” message, you can paste it immediately.)

6. Record your Zoom meeting.

There are plenty of reasons why you might want to record your Zoom meeting; maybe you’re conducting a media interview, filming a virtual comedy show, or watching an academic lecture that you’ll need to study later. If you’re the meeting host, you can easily capture this by hitting the “Record” button along the bottom menu bar of your Zoom screen. If you aren’t the meeting host, you can do it by logging into your Zoom account on the web browser, going into the “Recording” tab in your personal settings, and switching on the button for “Automatic recording.” (If you only need to record one meeting, you can always switch it off later.) You can choose where to store your recordings and customize other settings in the “Recording” tab in the actual Zoom app.

7. Hide everyone who isn’t on video.

If some users have disabled video or dialed in via phone, it can feel a little strange to stare at—or talk to—a few video users among a sea of blank squares. To customize your view to actual faces only, check the “Hide non-video participants” box in the “Video” tab in your Zoom settings.

8. Set reminders for upcoming calls.

Even if you know your Zoom call is at 2 p.m., you might need an extra reminder at 1:55.Ellen Gutoskey, Zoom

If your regular calendar is a web of birthdays, personal appointments, and other miscellaneous meetings, notifications about Zoom calls might blend in with the rest. To keep you from forgetting, Zoom will send you separate reminders—under Settings > General, you can choose to be reminded five, 10, or 15 minutes before upcoming meetings.

9. Got two computer screens? Make your meeting show up on both.

Anyone with dual monitors can use them both for a Zoom meeting—just check the “Use dual monitors” under Settings > General. Then, when someone’s sharing their screen in a Zoom meeting, you can view the shared screen on one monitor, and see the other meeting participants on the other.

10. Split participants into small groups.

Zoom’s “breakout rooms” feature allows teachers and managers to break participants into smaller groups without making them leave the meeting, set up their own meetings, and then rejoin the original meeting. First, sign into Zoom through your web browser and make sure the “Breakout room” button is turned on under Settings > Meeting >In Meeting (Advanced). There’s also an option to “Allow host to assign participants to breakout rooms when scheduling,” if you want people to know their groups before the meeting. When you’re hosting a meeting, you’ll see a breakout room icon in the bottom menu bar, and you’ll be able to choose groups manually or let Zoom do it for you.

11. Change your Zoom background.

And, of course, you can add a little pizzazz to happy hours and quarterly business reviews by changing your background to something from Schitt’s Creek or Harry Potter. Log into Zoom through your web browser and make sure virtual backgrounds are enabled under Settings > Meeting > In Meeting (Advanced). Then, under the “Virtual Background” tab in your Zoom app settings, you can update your background to any image saved to your computer.

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40) 

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Sauteuse 3.5 Quarts; $180 (save $120)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75) 

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $88 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10) 

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $13 (save $14)

HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- Fairywill Electric Toothbrush with Four Brush Heads; $19 (save $9)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31) 

TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Home Office Shredder; $33 (save $7)

Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30) 

Video games

Sony

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

- Minecraft Dungeons Hero Edition for Nintendo Switch; $20 (save $10)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

The Sims 4; $20 (save $20)

God of War for PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

Days Gone for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- Apple MacBook Air 13 inches with 256 GB; $899 (save $100)

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250) 

- Samsung Chromebook 4 Chrome OS 11.6 inches with 32 GB; $210 (save $20) 

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8 inches with 32 GB; $100 (save $50)

Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $379 (save $20)

- Apple iMac 27 inches with 256 GB; $1649 (save $150)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $179 (save $20) 

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $169 (save $50)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera with EF-M 15-45mm Lens; $549 (save $100)

DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

Doctor’s 60-Second Trick Makes Any Face Mask Fit Better

Mika Baumeister, Unsplash
Mika Baumeister, Unsplash

As face masks have become part of daily life, people have come up with innovative ways to make them more comfortable and effective. There are tricks for masking up without hurting your ears, fogging up your glasses, or breaking out. This new tip from Olivia Cuid, M.D. could be the key to making large masks fit better around your face.

As Self reports, this hack takes 60 seconds or less and works on both disposable masks or cloth masks with ear loops. To prevent the sides of your mask from popping out—making it easier for microbes to travel in and out of the space behind it—tie both ear loops into a knot. The closer the knot is to the side of the mask, the tighter the mask will fit on your face.

Once the loops are secure, open up the mask and look for gaps where the knots meet the fabric. Close these holes by tucking them behind the loops. Now, when you wear your mask, the fabric should fit snugly against your face. You can watch Dr. Cuid demonstrate the trick in the TikTok below.

@oliviacuidmdHighly requested 60s version of my viral mask hack ##fyp ##doctorsoftiktok ##masktutorial ##covid19 ##viral ##maskhack ##learnontiktok

♬ original sound - Dr. Olivia

This trick is great for people with small faces, or anyone who wants more protection from their mask. After adjusting the fit of your face mask, make sure to wash it regularly. Here's the best way to keep reusable face masks clean.

[h/t Self]