Zoom and Skype Video Chat: 17 Tips and Tricks

With COVID-19 upon us and a compulsory lockdown worldwide, it is important for most executives to look for ways to get the economy up and running in order to avoid economy meltdown.

One way to get workers not to forget the duties is through constant communication from top executives. And what better way to achieve that this season of serious lockdown than via video conferencing?


So many apps can help you with that. Two of the popular ones are Zoom and Skype

These video meeting and chat apps have become the wildly popular host to millions of people working and studying from home during the coronavirus outbreak. Whether you’ve been using the, for years or have only just signed up, there are a number of helpful and fun tips, tricks and hidden features you can find to upgrade your video chatting experience.

Here are 17 ways to become Zoom and Skype master:

Innovative Background

Virtually transport yourself to the beach, outer space or anywhere else you can imagine by customizing your background while on Zoom calls — everyone’s doing it these days. You can read our step-by-step guide to changing your Zoom background on the desktop and mobile app, but basically you go to Settings > Virtual Background and select or upload the image you want from there. However, you do have to make sure that your system meets all of the requirements to do so.

Mute Audio and Turn-off Camera

Diving for the mute audio and camera buttons as soon as you enter a meeting can get old. Keep your coworkers from seeing your bedhead or hearing your cat screeching by turning those off by default. To do it, go to Settings > Audio > Mute microphone when joining a meeting, and then Settings > Video > Turn off my video when joining a meeting.

Mute and Unmute

When you are called on to speak, stop scrambling to click the microphone button. You can press and hold the spacebar to quickly mute and unmute your mic, right from your keyboard.

Go the Emoji Way

If you’re muted in a meeting, you can still let the hosts know your thoughts with emoji reactions. Send a thumbs up or a clapping emoji to communicate without interrupting the meeting (by default, those reactions have a yellow skin tone, but you can customize that on the Zoom desktop app).

Handy Keyboard Shortcuts

For those who don’t like clicking around their screen, Zoom has a ton of helpful keyboard shortcuts to help you navigate the app on your desktop without using your mouse. Find commands to join a meeting, start or stop recording, enter full screen and share your screen (more on that below).  

Gallery View

Gallery view lets you see everyone in the meeting at once, instead of just the person speaking. To turn that on, click the tab that says “Gallery view” in the top right corner. If the meeting has 49 or fewer attendees, you’ll see all of their screens displayed on one page. If there are more, you’ll have the option to move between multiple pages. Change it back by clicking “Speaker view” in that same top right corner.

Hide Non-video Participants

On a larger call, your screen can get cluttered with participants, which can be distracting, especially if some don’t have their cameras on. Hide the participants who aren’t using video by going to Settings > Video > Meetings, and check Hide non-video participants. Now you’ll only be distracted by your co-workers’ children who appear on video.

Share Your Screen

Share your screen for a Zoom meeting (or to watch a movie or play a game) with other participants by clicking the Share screen icon on the toolbar at the bottom of the meeting screen. You’ll have the option to share your entire desktop, or just one of the windows you have open. Click the red Stop Share button at the top of the screen to go back to being a normal participant in the meeting.

Touch-up with Beauty Filter

At this point, if you know all of the work from home advice about getting dressed and ready like it’s a regular work day, but still don’t think you’re looking your best, Zoom’s Touch Up My Appearance feature may be for you. The filter aims to smooth over your appearance, making you look dewy and well-rested. If you’ve ever used beauty mode on your phone’s selfie camera, you know what you’re getting.

To turn it on, click the up arrow next to Start Video. Click Video Settings, and under My Video, check the box for Touch Up My Appearance.

Record Meetings

Both free and paid Zoom subscribers can record their meeting to their laptop or computer using the desktop app (you can’t record on mobile at the moment, unless you have a paid account — keep reading for more on that). Those recorded files can then be uploaded to a file storage service such as Google Drive or Dropbox, or a video streaming service such as YouTube or Vimeo.

To enable local recording, go to Settings > Recording, and toggle it on. When you’re hosting a Zoom meeting, click the Record icon on the bottom toolbar.

Record Meetings to the Cloud

If you have one of Zoom’s paid plans (which start at $15 a month), you can take a recording that will save directly to the cloud (or to your computer if you prefer). Tap the record button on the bottom toolbar, and you’ll have the option to make it either local or in the cloud. You can do this on either desktop or mobile.

Host a Group Meeting Longer than 40 minutes

On Zoom’s free basic tier, group meetings can only last up to 40 minutes (though one-on-one meetings are unlimited in time). To get unlimited group time, upgrade to a paid account.

Host More than 100 People

If you have a group of more than 100 people to host for work or school, you have to upgrade to a paid professional account. If you upgrade to the highest tier (Enterprise Plus), you can host up to 1,000 participants.

To react during a meeting, click the Reactions tab at the bottom of the meeting screen (it’s in the same panel as mute audio and video, to the right) and choose the one you want. Emoji will disappear after 5 seconds.

If the meeting organizer enables the nonverbal feedback feature, participants can place an icon such as a raised hand next to their name to communicate. Every participant will be able to see each other’s feedback.

Skype

Blur your Background

On Skype, you can blur the background of your video to hide any mess. The background blur feature (which is the same on Microsoft Teams, as Microsoft owns both platforms) uses AI to keep the focus on you. To use this feature, click or tap on the camera icon at the bottom of the screen and toggle on Blur my background.

Send a Video Message

If you want to video chat with another Skype user but can’t get your times to match up, you can send a video message for them to watch when they can. To do this on the desktop version, click on the contact you want to message, click the three dots on the bottom right corner of your messaging history and select Send Video Message to record a clip of up to three minutes for them to watch.

Talk with the Skype Translator

Skype has a Translator service that will translate everything you say or type in real time for the person you are talking to. The text translator is available in more than 60 languages, while the voice translator is available for 10 languages (including English, Spanish, French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Arabic, and Russian). You can enable it by going to Tools > Options > General > Skype Translator.

Uncover Hidden Emoticons

In its messaging feature, Skype offers a number of animated emoticons that help you liven up your conversation or better express your mood. While most of these are visible when you click the smiley face at the bottom left corner of a chat window, some are only accessible when you type a certain shortcut in — including ones that are a bit more PG-13, like a middle finger, a smoker and Santa giving you his full moon. You can find all of the hidden emoticons on Skype’s support page.

Additional Input: CNET.com

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