Telecommuting is now more popular than ever, with thousands of companies turning to videoconferencing to keep their employees in the loop. Zoom and other online meeting tools make that easier than ever, but like any other software, problems will arise and disrupt or even prevent a good video call.
Fortunately, while there are service outages you can’t do much about, you can often fix typical problems yourself. To help get your Zoom calls working properly, we’ve collected the most common Zoom problems users face and provide step-by-step instructions on how to resolve them.
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Problem: Webcam or audio not working
Nothing is more frustrating than having your webcam or audio not work on a Zoom call. If your web camera is not showing up or is selected but not working, try some of these basic tips first.
Solution 1: Check Zoom settings
On the pop-up that prompts for a meeting ID just before joining a call, leave the following settings unchecked:
- Do Not Connect to Audio
- Turn Off My Video
This allows you to join a call with your audio and video automatically enabled.
Solution 2: Exit other related apps
If your webcam isn’t showing up, make sure all other programs that use the webcam are closed. Zoom may not be able to use the camera if it’s currently accessed by a different application.
Solution 3: Test the audio and video
If your webcam or audio still isn’t working, you can test your audio and video in Zoom by clicking this link. Once open, you can join a test call on the Zoom app and follow the instructions on the screen.
If you’ve joined on the web (or to just double-check your webcam in the main Zoom app), you can also select your webcam by clicking Start Video (it might say Stop Video if you’re in a call) on the bottom toolbar. If the screen is blank, you can then click the Arrow next to the Video Camera icon and choose Same as System (or you may see Integrated Camera) or a more specifically named webcam from the list.
Solution 4: Check PC settings
Sometimes the problem might not be Zoom at all. If you’re on a Windows 10 PC or Mac, the webcam might be blocked. You can correct this by checking your app permissions to make sure the Zoom app or your web browser can use your webcam.
On the web specifically, you can also check this setting by restarting your call and making sure you pressed Allow when prompted about the camera and microphone access.
Enter “webcam” in the taskbar search box and select Choose Which Apps Can Access Your Camera from the menu. Scroll down, and you’ll see the list of Microsoft Store and desktop applications that are allowed to use your webcam.
For non-Microsoft Store apps, like Zoom, you’ll need to make sure the toggle for Allow Desktop Apps to Access Your Camera is switched to the On position.
In the same way, you can also search for Microphone and choose Microphone Privacy Settings to do the same.
Open System Preferences and select Security and Privacy. After that, click the Lock and enter your password to make changes. You can then click Camera from the sidebar, and make sure your web browser and Zoom are checked. You’ll also want to make sure the box for the microphone is checked.
Note: Some laptops also have a physical webcam switch that must be enabled to allow the webcam to function properly. Double-check that yours is in the right position if you have one.
Solution 5: Reinstall Zoom
If all else fails, uninstall the software and the web browser client will reinstall it before the next meeting. You can also manually install the software from Zoom.
Problem: Echoes during a call
Another common problem with Zoom is an audio echo during a meeting. If you hear an audio echo or feedback, there are three possible reasons why.
Solution 1: Limit the input
Someone could have both computer and telephone audio active at the same time. In this case, ask them to either hang up on the telephone call or exit the PC-based audio during the conference by clicking the Up arrow next to the microphone icon and choosing Leave Computer Audio.
Solution 2: Move or disable external speakers
Computer or telephone speakers might be too close to each other. Ask the two people that are too close to each other to move apart or shut a door. You could also ask one of them to leave the audio conference or mute audio on their device. Using headphones helps reduce the echoing effect, too.
Solution 3: Disable additional audio
Multiple computers with active audio could be in the same conference room. Again, ask the two people that are too close to each other to move apart or close a door. You can also ask one of them to leave the audio conference, mute audio on their device, or wear headphones.
Problem: Zoom lags or freezes during meetings
Lagging and freezing usually indicate a problem with your internet connection.
Solution 1: Change the connection
On a mobile device, move to an area with a better connection to see if this helps. On PCs, stick with a wired Ethernet connection, if possible. Otherwise, get close to the local router and use the 5GHz connection — it’s faster and (typically) less congested. If you need an upgrade, we list the best wireless routers you can get.
Solution 2: Check the connection speed
Aim for the right internet speeds for a successful video chat. When talking with multiple people in a team setting, you want the download speed around 1Mbps and the upload speed around 800Kbps. You can always check your current speeds with a quick internet speed test. If the speeds are undesirable, repeat Solution 1. Also, you can check out our tips on how to increase internet speed.
Solution 3: Adjust Zoom settings
Try unchecking the HD and Touch Up My Appearance options. To access these options, click the Cog icon (Settings) when outside a call, or click the Camera icon within a call and then select Video Settings on the pop-up menu. After that, select the Video category listed on the left (if it isn’t already).
By unchecking these two options, you will decrease the amount of bandwidth your video connection requires (and the overhead on your system’s hardware), which can help fix problems with lag.
Problem: Can’t share a screen
Sharing your screen is an important part of many Zoom calls. It’s as easy as clicking Share Screen at the bottom of the window. If you’re planning to share your screen during a call, check a couple of settings first.
Solution 1: Check your connection
Sharing your screen takes up a lot of bandwidth. Make sure that you have a solid internet connection and that you’re connected to the call. Use a wired connection, if available, for the best performance.
Solution 2: Try a Share Screen meeting
On the Home screen, click the Down arrow next to New Meeting and uncheck Start With Video. Your meeting will then start with only audio, freeing up bandwidth. Your video will not be automatically turned on.
Alternatively, if you’re already on a call and need to share your screen, turn off your video by clicking the Stop Video button and then select the green Share Screen button.
Problem: No remote control while screen sharing
When sharing your screen, the viewer can request remote control to help you troubleshoot or explain a process more clearly. This tool is listed as Request Remote Control under View Options and can be accessed at any time while sharing the screen. If you want to enable remote control, but it’s not working properly, there are several possible issues to consider.
Solution 1: Allow remote control
Chances are, the sharer (host) is not agreeing to the request for remote control. A notification will pop up on their screen, and they must choose Allow to enable remote control.
Solution 2: Don’t interfere with the host PC
The sharer (host) may be interrupting the process. Technically, the person sharing their screen can stop the remote control at any time by clicking their mouse. Always leave the host computer alone while the viewer (client) assumes remote control.
Solution 3: Find a compatible device
You could be on the wrong device. iPad and Android devices, for example, currently don’t allow requesting or giving remote control.
Problem: No email messages from Zoom
Another common problem is not being able to receive email messages from Zoom. This can include notifications and activation emails. These usually take 30 minutes to arrive and could take longer. If it doesn’t arrive, you need to make sure that your email is configured properly.
Usually, this isn’t something on your end, so you’ll need to ask your IT department to whitelist Zoom’s email IP addresses. If you’re using Gmail or a personal email service, check your spam account, too. Emails will come from email@example.com.
Problem: Zoom crashes
If Zoom is crashing and closing itself entirely, see if these solutions help.
Solution 1: Check for service issues
Check Zoom Service Status and Downdetector to see if there is a regional Zoom problem. Sometimes there are server issues or platform maintenance, which could mean the service will be down for a while. You will need to wait if this is the case.
Solution 2: Use the web version
Try the web version if the problem isn’t regional. As long as your internet connection is sufficient, it tends to be a bit more reliable if the installed app is experiencing problems.
Solution 3: Check Zoom settings
Sometimes Zoom can get confused about audio versus video settings. If it’s trying to use your webcam connection as an audio output, for example, it will often start crashing as a result. Make sure video connections are routed to your webcam and, if necessary, your audio is routed to connected speakers.
Problem: We’re getting Zoom-bombed!
Yes, Zoom bombing is a thing. It’s a growing fad of joining a private meeting and disrupting it with anything from blaring music to porn — even courtrooms aren’t immune. If someone Zoom-bombed your meeting in the past, there is one solution that is incredibly effective at preventing future invasions.
Require a passcode!
The host creating the meeting and sending out invitations can require all participants to enter a passcode before joining. That means strangers have a hard time finding ways to drop in. In fact, as of the May 2020 update, requiring a password is set as the default — just update Zoom to start using this feature.
And if you are worried about hacking in more elaborate ways, there is good news. Zoom is bringing end-to-end encryption to all meetings — not just to paid versions. A technical preview began in October 2020. For more information about enabling this feature, read Zoom’s guide.
Ultimately, this will help protect content and prevent more advanced versions of Zoom-bombing even if you are using a free account.
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