Ever want to catch up with two or more friends or family members and be able to see and hear them? Free video calling is the solution, and it’s much easier to get started than you may imagine.
We’ve chosen to start by covering Zoom due to its popularity for both social and professional uses. Unlike FaceTime, you can use Zoom’s free version to connect with up to 98 others at once for up to 40 minutes, making it ideal for regular family catch-ups. And one-to-one video chats don’t include this time limit. So let’s get started with setting up a (free) video chat service.
What is Zoom?
Zoom is a video meeting platform. It is used for a variety of purposes including company meetings, webinars and increasingly social meet-ups among friends and family. It can be used on your computer or smartphone. If you’re invited to a Zoom meeting or would like to set one up, you’ll need to open an account. This is very easy, and the free account will probably suit your purposes. Once your account is set up, you can access Zoom on either computer or smartphone, regardless of which device you used to set it up.
Set up your free Zoom account
Good news – this should take a novice no more than 3 minutes to set up!
In your web browser, go to “zoom.us”. (Don’t worry if you live in a different country, this address should work for you, too.) Find the Sign Up button in the top right corner (circled).
This will take you to a screen asking for your basic details. You must include a valid email address. You may also be asked one or more screening questions to ensure you are of appropriate age before being brought to the main sign-up page.
The main sign up page asks for your first and last names and to choose a password. The password must have at least 8 characters and contain at least 1 lowercase letter, 1 uppercase letter and one number. Special characters are allowed but not mandatory to include.
Next, in a separate tab on your browser, go to your email account, and open the email from Zoom and select the “Activate your Account” button.
You will be prompted to invite other users by inputting their email addresses. This step is not necessary, and you can safely choose “Skip this Step” (circled below).
Congratulations! You have successfully set up your Zoom account and can now accept invitations or issue them.
As a next step, Zoom will prompt you to start your first meeting. Unless you happen to have scheduled one at this time, it’s unlikely you’ll need to do this. Instead you can go to your account (circled below) and add a photo. This will be shown, for example, when your video is set to “off”. You can upload one from your files. Otherwise, note down your login details where appropriate and close the browser tab.
Now that you’re ready to Zoom, take a look out for our top tips for using it for meetings or socials.
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