A Beginner’s Guide on How to Use Zoom

Companies have utilized Zoom, a video conferencing app, for virtual meetings years before the pandemic. Now, many seniors are turning to Zoom to virtually connect with friends and family. In fact, our editor's grandmother lives hundreds of miles from her grandchildren; before the pandemic, she'd never thought to use Zoom to connect with her far-away family. Now, she's hopping on Zoom multiple times a week to chat with her grandchildren, getting to see their infectious smiles! Whether it's a virtual lunch date, weekly catch up, or a long conversation about their favorite books, our editor and her grandma can enjoy quality time together, even when they aren't in the same town.

If you're new to video chatting technology, you may be wondering exactly how to use Zoom. Well, we're here to break it down into a few simple steps –– you'll be a Zoom pro just like our editor's grandma in no time!

Our editor having lunch with her Grandma over Zoom

Our editor having lunch with her Grandma over Zoom

Download the Zoom App

There are paid versions of Zoom, but we will be discussing the free version here, which is more than capable of hosting chats with a few of your loved ones. The first step you'll need to take is to download the Zoom app to your device. You can do this on a laptop, home computer, tablet, or smartphone. Depending on which brand of smartphone, computer, or tablet you have, there may be a few nuances. If you have an Andriod or Apple (iPhone, iPad, etc.) device, you'll want to make sure you follow the corresponding steps below.

Pro Tip: Opt for using your smartphone or tablet to Zoom if you want to get up and move around during your video chat. Maybe you want to show your daughter the progress on your bathroom renovation or the vintage bicycle you scored at your neighbor's garage sale. These are ideal times to use Zoom on your tablet or smartphone!

How to Download Zoom on My Laptop

Step 1. Visit zoom.us on your web browser. In the top right corner of the Zoom homepage, you'll see “Sign Up, It's Free.” Click that button.

Zoom - Click Sign Up, It's Free

Zoom – Click Sign Up, It’s Free

Step 2. You'll be prompted to enter your DOB. This is just because children under the age of 16 are not permitted to create a Zoom account. So, as long as you're old enough to drive, you're old enough to Zoom. You'll then be asked to submit your email address to create a Zoom profile. Don't forget to save or write down your password!

Zoom - Enter your DOB

Zoom – Enter your DOB

Zoom - Enter your email address to sign up

Zoom – Enter your email address to sign up

Step 3. After you've made a Zoom profile, visit zoom.us/download on the web to download the Zoom app on your computer. Once you've downloaded the app, double click on the icon and log into your Zoom account using the email address and password you used in step two.

Installing the Zoom app on a desktop

Installing the Zoom app on a desktop

How to Download Zoom on My iPhone or iPad

Step 1. Visit the Apple App Store and search “Zoom” in the search box. If you have an Andriod, you'll want to do the same thing in Google Play.

Step 2. Tap “Get” or “Install” to download the Zoom app to your smartphone. You will need to authorize the download by entering your Apple ID and password (or face recognition).

Zoom - Downloading the app on the Apple Store

Zoom – Downloading the app on the Apple Store

Installing the Zoom app from Google Play for Android phones

Installing the Zoom app from Google Play for Android phones

 

Step 3. Once it is finished downloading, tap on the Zoom app icon on your phone. It is a little blue square with a white video camera in the center.

Zoom - Click this app icon on your iPhone

Zoom – Click this app icon on your iPhone

Step 4. Next, you'll be prompted to log in using your email address and password. If you haven't made an account already, you can tap “Sign Up.”

Zoom - Sign in or sign up

Zoom – Sign in or sign up

Can I use Zoom without Downloading the App?

You don't have to download the app if you're using Zoom on your computer. Simply go to the Zoom homepage, select “Join a Meeting,” and either enter the meeting ID or Zoom invitation link. Then, you will see the screen below. Select “Join from Your Browser” to enter your meeting.

Zoom - Join from your browser

Zoom – Join from your browser

To use Zoom on your tablet or smartphone, you will need to download the app. There is no way around it. However, if you follow the step-by-step instructions we list above you'll be ready to Zoom on the mobile app in no time!

Do I Have to Create a Zoom Account?

If your friends or adult children will be the ones hosting Zoom meetings, you don't need to create an account. You can click on the link they send you when it is time for the meeting to start. Though you don't need to create a Zoom account, we do recommend it. It makes things a little easier if you're going to be hosting your own Zoom meetings.

How to Join a Zoom Meeting

There are two ways you can join a Zoom meeting: clicking a link or entering the meeting ID and password sent to you by the host. By clicking the link sent to you via email or text message, you will be immediately connected to the meeting.

Zoom - Click the shared link to join your meeting

Zoom – Click the shared link to join your meeting

To enter the meeting ID and password, click “Join” on the app or “Join a Meeting” on your web browser and enter the meeting ID and password shared with you by the meeting host (example below). And that's it – you're in the meeting!

Zoom - Join the meeting from your Desktop

Zoom – Join the meeting from your Desktop

How to Use Important Features During a Zoom Call

Once you're Zooming with your friends and family, there are a few features to be familiar with to make sure you and your loved ones have a great experience on Zoom.

How to Turn on Zoom Camera

Once you're in the meeting, make sure you turn on your camera so everyone can see your smiling face!

Zoom - How to Start Video

Zoom – How to Start Video

How to Mute/Unmute Yourself on Zoom

When you first start or join a meeting, you will see a window appear like the one below. You'll need to give permission to your computer to join with audio. If you see a box pop up like the one below at the beginning of your meeting, click “Join with Computer Audio.”

Zoom - Join with computer audio

Zoom – Join with computer audio

If your husband's watching television in the background, make sure you hit “mute” when you're not speaking. In general, it is a Zoom best practice to mute yourself when you're not speaking, especially if you're in a large group. Just remember to unmute when you want to say something and then re-mute when you're finished.

Zoom - How to mute and unmute yourself

Zoom – How to mute and unmute yourself

How to Use the Zoom Chat Feature

If you want to type a message to the group, simply click on the little chat bubble at the bottom of the screen. Your message will be viewable by everyone in the group unless you specify otherwise.

Zoom - Using the chat feature

Zoom – Using the chat feature

How to Leave a Zoom Meeting

When you're finished with your Zoom meeting, press the red “End” button in the bottom right corner. If you're using your smartphone or tablet, it is in the top right corner.

Zoom - Ending the meeting on a computer

Zoom – Ending the meeting on a computer

Written By

Taylor Shuman

Senior Tech Expert & Editor

For over five years, Taylor has been writing, editing, and researching products and services covering topics such as senior care and technology, Internet and the digital divide, TV, and entertainment, and education. Her research on media consumption and consumer behavior has been… Learn More About Taylor Shuman