The most common Zoom problems and how to fix them

Telecommuting is 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 they’re not always a perfect solution to the difficulties of working from home. Bugs and breakages can get in the way of 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 again, we’ve collected the most common Zoom problems users face and put together some step-by-step ways to fix them.

Further reading

Webcam or audio not working

Zoom

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 and is not working on Zoom, then you might want to try some of these basic tips first.

Just before you join a call, on the screen that prompts you for a meeting ID, Zoom offers two options you can check: Do Not Connect to Audio and Turn Off My Video. Leave these options unchecked if you want to join a call with your audio and video automatically enabled.

If your web camera isn’t showing up, the first thing to do is check to make sure all other programs that use the webcam are closed. Zoom may not be able to use the camera if you’ve already given access to it in a different application.

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). 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.

Zoom video settings screenshot
screenshot

You might also want to download Zoom again and reinstall it.

Sometimes the problem might not be Zoom at all. If you’re on a Windows 10 or MacOS device, 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.

On Windows, you can check to see if your webcam is blocked by searching for “webcam” in the search box located in the desktop taskbar and selecting Choose Which Apps Can Access Your Camera from the menu. Scroll down, and you’ll see the list of applications that are allowed to use your webcam. For non-Microsoft Store apps, 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.

On MacOS, you’ll need to click Security and Privacy in System Preferences, 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.

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.

Echoes during a call

Another common problem with Zoom is audio echo during a meeting. If you hear an audio echo or feedback during your meeting, there are three possible reasons why.

First, someone could have both computer and telephone audio active at the same time. In this case, you’ll want to ask them to manually leave one in favor of the other. They’ll have to either hang up on the telephone call or leave audio during the conference by clicking the up arrow next to the microphone icon and choosing Leave Computer Audio. 

Another cause could be that people with computer or telephone speakers might be too close to each other. Lastly, multiple computers with active audio could be in the same conference room.

To resolve either of these other situations, you’ll have to ask the two people that are too close to each other to move apart. Or ask one of them to leave the audio conference or mute audio on their device.

Problems with Zoom lagging or freezing during meetings

Lagging and freezing usually indicate a problem with your internet connection. If on a mobile device, try to move to an area with a more stable connection to see if this helps.

You should also aim for the right internet speeds for a successful video chat. In a team setting, when you are talking with multiple people, you will want to aim for around a 1Mbps download speed and 800Kbps upload speed. You can always check your current speeds with a quick internet speed test.

You may be able to improve video quality by changing your Zoom settings, as well. For example, disabling HD options or the Touch Up My Appearance setting will decrease the amount of bandwidth your video connection requires (and the overhead on your system’s hardware), and can help fix problems with lag.

Problems sharing a screen

Sharing your screen is an important part of many Zoom calls and is as easy as clicking Share Screen at the bottom of the window.

If you’re planning to share your screen during a call, you might need to check a couple of settings first. Make sure that you have a solid internet connection and that you’re connected to the call. Sharing your screen takes up a lot of bandwidth.

It’s also a good idea to try a Share Screen meeting first in Zoom. You can do this by unchecking the Start With Video box, which can be found under the Home section, and then clicking on the drop-down arrow next to the phrase New Meeting. Your meeting will then start with only audioconferencing, freeing up some bandwidth. Your video will not be automatically turned on.

Alternatively, if you’re already on a call and need to share your screen, try turning off your video by clicking the Stop Video button and then choosing the green Share Screen button.

Problems with remote control while screen sharing

When sharing your screen, the person watching your screen can request remote control to help you troubleshoot or explain a process more clearly — under View Options is a tool to Request Remote Control 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:

  • The sharer is not agreeing to the request: A notification will pop up on their screen, and they will have to choose Allow to share screens.
  • The sharer is interrupting the process: Technically, the person sharing their screen can stop the remote control at any time by clicking their mouse. Always remind people to leave their computers alone while you’re assuming remote control.
  • You could be on the wrong device: iPad and Android devices, for example, currently don’t allow requesting or giving remote control.

Problems receiving 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, but 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 emailing service, you can check your spam account, too. Emails will come from no-reply@zoom.us.

Problems with Zoom crashing

If Zoom is crashing and closing itself entirely, your first move should be to check Zoom Service Status and Downdetector to see if there is a regional Zoom problem in your area. Sometimes there are issues with servers or Zoom is doing maintenance to the platform, which may mean the service will be down for a while, and you will have to wait for it to come back up again.

If it doesn’t look regional, we suggest trying the web version of Zoom instead of the app: As long as your internet connection is sufficient, the web version tends to be a bit more reliable if the app is experiencing problems.

Finally, take a look at your peripheral settings. Sometimes Zoom can get very 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, that your audio is routed to connected speakers.

Problems with getting Zoom-bombed

Peace N Peas

Zoom bombing is the growing fad of joining a private meeting and disrupting it with anything from blaring music to porn — and even courtrooms aren’t immune. If you have been Zoom-bombed in the past, there is one solution that is incredibly effective at preventing it from happening again: Requiring a passcode.

The host creating the meeting and sending out invitations can require that participants enter a passcode to join the meeting, which 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, so all you may need to do is update Zoom to start using this feature.

And if you are worried about hacking in more elaborate ways, there is good news: In June 2020, Zoom announced that it would be bringing end-to-end encryption to all meetings (not just paid versions) to help protect content and prevent more advanced versions of Zoom-bombing even if you are using a free account.

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