For most remote coaching and support sessions, I use Zoom (zoom.us), an excellent application that offers stable audio and video meetings with end-to-end encryption and secure screen sharing. I was an early adopter of the platform in 2013 when Google Hangouts was getting too playful and no longer serving my grad school team project needs.
I find remote coaching on Zoom at least 80% as effective as sitting together in person. With your permission, I can take control of your Mac screen to handle complicated procedures. For mobile device help, it’s also possible to share your iPhone/iPad screen directly or to display it on your Mac.
The Zoom app hasn’t changed much in seven years and I still find it as valuable as ever. However, it seems users have generated a number of false assumptions about joining meetings and such. I’m here to dispel these myths and provide some ease to your new Zooming life.
I hope the tutorial below is thorough enough to help you get started and that you’ll reach out when you’re ready for more advanced features.
Do you have the Zoom application yet? You can look in Applications on your Mac to find out, or you can search using Spotlight (the magnifying glass on the menu bar).
In iOS, you can use Spotlight by swiping down from the middle of any home screen, though I recommend knowing where you’ve placed the app for easy access in the future.
If you’ve never used or installed Zoom before on your Mac, download it. Open the downloaded package (Zoom.pkg) and click Continue to install. The Zoom application will then open. In iOS, go to the App Store and get ZOOM Cloud Meetings.
Join a Meeting
There are a few ways to join a Zoom meeting. Most people I know believe that a “Zoom link” is necessary and are usually waiting for me to provide one.
I’m happy to do so but that’s not the only way. Also, joining via link on a computer leaves you with an unnecessary browser window, forever reporting that your meeting is starting. (Yes, you can close that window because you’re probably already in the meeting using the Zoom app.)
Every Zoom meeting has a 9- or 10-digit ID number. If you’re in an active meeting, you can see the Meeting ID at the top of the window or screen.
If you’re joining a meeting hosted by someone else, they need only provide you the ID. Then, in the Zoom application, click Join [a Meeting] and enter the number. (There’s no need to sign in.)
If you have used Zoom before, such as for a previous session with me, you may find the meeting room in the meeting history. Click the popup menu on the right side of the Meeting ID field to see.
When joining a meeting, Zoom may ask whether you want to use Computer/Internet Audio or dial in by phone. On meetings with many attendees, calling in for audio may make for a more stable experience, even if you use a webcam for video. For one-on-one sessions, computer audio is usually fine.
However, it’s worth noting that two Mac models lack a built-in microphone: Mac mini and Mac Pro. If you’re calling for help with one of these, you have a few choices:
Both of these Macs have a headphone jack with headset support, as well as Bluetooth, so you can use a wired or wireless headset for audio. For video, you’ll need an external webcam.
If you have an iPhone, iPad, or a Mac with a webcam, you can join the meeting on that device (as well) and separately join on your other Mac for screen sharing purposes.
You can join audio by phone, as described below, and skip video entirely but still share your Mac’s screen.
When joining audio by phone, enter your Participant ID and Zoom will unify your audio and video streams into a single participant entity. As a result, other participants will see your mouth moving in alignment with your speech.
You can see your Participant ID on the start screen of a scheduled meeting, on the title bar of the Mac app when in an active meeting, or on the dial-in page of the mobile app. If calling in directly via the mobile app, Zoom will enter the Meeting ID and Participant ID automatically.
Screen Sharing on macOS
Screen sharing in Zoom is what makes these meetings, by my estimation, nearly as effective as in-person technology coaching sessions. To begin, simply click the green Share Screen button at the bottom of the Zoom window.
Zoom will show every window currently open on your Mac and you might be tempted to choose just one. However, for Mac coaching, it’s best for me to see everything, so I suggest just clicking Share so we can explore your system freely. During a screen share, Zoom moves all of its controls to a bar at the top of the screen.
Recent versions of macOS have added security and privacy settings that can make initial setup a little challenging. (You will not be able to share your screen and/or give me control in macOS Mojave or later unless you have completed the appropriate steps below.) Fortunately, you only have to do this once.
If your Mac is running macOS Mojave, the first time you try to share your screen, Zoom will present a dialog asking you to Open System Preferences. Do so and then:
In System Preferences, click the lock and enter your computer password to unlock the preference pane
In the Accessibility section under Privacy, find zoom.us in the list and check the checkbox
If your Mac is running macOS Catalina or later, the first time you try to share your screen, Zoom will present a dialog asking you to Open System Preferences. Do so and then:
In System Preferences, in the Screen Recording section under Privacy, find zoom.us in the list and check the checkbox
The system will then indicate that Zoom cannot record your screen until it is quit. Click Quit now and leave the meeting when prompted
Rejoin the meeting
If we subsequently want to give me control of your screen, Zoom will again prompt you to open System Preferences and you’ll need to check zoom.us in Accessibility, as described above
We may deem it beneficial for me to control your screen to troubleshoot an issue or carry out a solution. If I request control, you’ll receive my request on the screen and can give me permission. You’ll still be able to control the cursor and I may sometimes need you to enter your password(s), but bear in mind that we can’t interact with the screen simultaneously.
Screen Sharing on iOS
Screen sharing of iOS devices is less common among my clients, perhaps because folks are less aware of my proficiency with them and all the hidden tips I have to offer. Anyway, this is easily doable with either of two methods:
Share via Mac
Using its charge cable, connect your device to your Mac
If your Mac indicates you need to install a software update to connect with your device, do that first. You may also need to initiate a relationship of trust between the two devices (via iTunes or the Finder).
Open QuickTime Player, which you can find via Spotlight or in your Applications folder
Go to the File menu and choose New Movie Recording
From the popup menu to the right of the Record button, choose your iOS device as the camera
If all goes well, your iOS device screen will appear on your Mac. Remember that you can only interact with your device directly on its physical screen. This may take some getting used to.
Additionally, if you switch to other applications and the QuickTime Player window is no longer in view, I won’t be able to see your device interactions until you switch back to it.
Share via Zoom
If this is the first time and your device is running iOS 11 or 12, open Settings > Control Center > Customize Controls, find Screen Recording in More Controls, and add it to the controls to include.
When you’re in a Zoom meeting, tap the green Share button at the bottom and choose Screen. Choose Zoom from the Screen Recording menu and then Start Broadcast.
Host a Meeting
In the beginning, all meetings on free Zoom accounts were limited to 40 minutes. Now, you can host a one-on-one meeting of any length for free. For folks offering services to individuals or talking to a friend or family member, that might be enough. If it’s not, a Pro license costs $15 per month.
One of the best Pro features in my opinion is a custom Personal Meeting ID. The generated IDs of instant and scheduled meetings are 9 digits whereas a Personal ID is 10. Thus, it’s common to use a U.S. phone number and that’s my top recommendation.
Either way, you can start a meeting instantly or put one on the calendar for later. You can also customize how others enter your meeting room, whether independently, after you arrive, or only with your approval.
When scheduling, the date and time are purely for your edification; you can actually run such a meeting at any time. From Zoom’s perspective, scheduling only accomplishes generating the meeting ID so you can share it with others.
If you have any other questions about Zoom, please reach out. I can teach you how to manage chat, offer breakout rooms, run bigger meetings, and more. I can also help you decide whether Zoom is right for your use case or if a competitor’s product might be a better fit.
Zoom is not the only platform of its type on the market and I’ve had varying amounts of experience with others. I do find Zoom best in many respects and I’m happy to share my insights if you like.