Believe it or not, Zoom has been around for over nine years, seeing its profile rise gradually over time. Yet, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic Zoom has erupted onto the scene as one of the most popular video-conferencing services on the market: adding millions of users in just the past months alone.

With such a staggering rise in popularity, we felt it best to give our readers the low-down on how to use a Zoom like a pro.

Whether you’re new to Zoom or you’re an old dog looking for new tricks, we’ve compiled the best tips and tricks to master Zoom’s multitude of features so that you can make full use of the entire service.

Mute Yourself with the Spacebar

We’ve all attended a call and heard people’s kids in the background or a dog going berserk. Or even worse, heard someone gossiping about a client or colleague for all the calls to hear. Avoid these embarrassing (or unprofessional) moments with a quick hold-down of the spacebar.

You’ll be able to flip in and out of mute with ease. It’s especially useful when you don’t need to speak for most of a meeting, but can be called upon at a moment’s notice. It’s well worth checking out the other useful keyboard shortcuts. Disable or enable them in keyboard shortcut settings to tailor your keys to your needs.

Flatter Your Appearance

When working from home, we don’t all look our best. Who wants to meticulously coiffeur their hair or spend half-an-hour applying make-up only to sit at home for the day? Thankfully, with Zoom, you can cheat. In the video settings menu, check the Touch up my appearance box. The software will blur your skin tone and use a soft-focus lens, smoothing your little imperfections: from crows’ feet to laughter lines.

If you’ve just rolled out of bed, you can hide your camera entirely, replacing your video with your profile picture. If you don’t need to chat, you’ll blend seamlessly into the background.

Don’t be caught out though. Disable your camera and mute your audio by default. Head into settings; under either Audio or Video, click the box to mute the microphone or turn off video when joining a meeting. You can thank us later.

Use Zoom Virtual Background

If you’re not worried about your appearance, it might be the clutter of your home. Keep your privacy intact with home backgrounds. Using green-screen technology, virtual backdrops will replace your home with an incredible video or hi-def photo of a swanky setting. The choices include a full range of stylish office and apartment backgrounds.

Go to Settings > Virtual Background, and you’ll be able to select one of the pre-existing backgrounds or use one of the fantastic ones available through hellobackground.com.

Use the Seamless Scheduling Feature

One of our favorite features of Zoom is the built-in scheduling function, allowing meetings to be saved into iCal and Google Calendar, or even scheduled via the calendar. Google will ask if you want to schedule a Zoom meeting, then follow the options. It’s as easy as that!

Remember, you’ll only be able to use this feature with Zoom meetings, webinars can’t be scheduled.

Screen Sharing (And More)

You don’t just have to go on video; you can also share your screen. Screen sharing is a great tool when explaining complicated concepts or showcasing your work. You’ll need to set-up the feature in advance. Then on your next call, select the Share Screen button, and everyone will be able to see what you’re working on – if you’ve got multiple screens, you can even choose which screen to share.

Remember to stop sharing when the call ends though; you don’t want clients seeing anything they shouldn’t.

Screen sharing has a few features people aren’t aware of, including a built-in whiteboard. Here you’ll be able to sketch out your ideas, explaining complex concepts visually for your audience to follow. (It’s also a lot of fun for an ice-breaking game of hangman.)

Hide Participants Not Using Video

When moderating a call with lots of attendees, you can be presented with a wall of windows. It’s useful to hide any participants not using video, removing the blank boxes from your screen, tidying up the feed.

Go to Settings > Video, and you’ll see a box under meetings stating ‘Hide non-video participants.’ Click and next time you are on a call, you’ll only see the feeds from participants with video.

How Hosts Can Mute Attendees

It might sound a little harsh, but in a large meeting, having one attendee with significant background noise can derail the whole call. No one wants to hear a private conversation, a dog barking, or a baby crying (not even the parents).

If you’re hosting, you have the power to mute any unwanted noises from an attendee with a click of a button. Via the Manage Participants section in the app Click the mic icon, and the person will be silenced.

You can also ‘Mute Participants upon entry’ via the settings, ensuring no one joining the call has accidentally forgotten to go on mute. It’ll not only save any unnecessary delays in the call but will also save your colleagues any embarrassment. People will still be able to unmute themselves, as and when they need to talk, but muting everyone from the outset makes everyone’s life easier.

Give it a Go

One last point to be aware of is the recent trend of ‘Zoombombing‘; whereby trolls scour the web for meetings, then join in unexpectedly (and without invitation). This has led to some disturbing results. Use the waiting room feature, don’t share meeting IDs, and restrict meeting attendance to prevent rogue Zoomers from joining in.

But don’t be too alarmed. Zoom has a ton of fantastic features to explore—fiddle around in the settings section to tailor the app to your specific needs. You’ll be surprised how versatile and interactive the software can be.