Video Conference with People at Home, For Free, Using Zoom — the EASY Basics of Getting Started!

If you’re not using free video conferencing software called Zoom,  to connect with people face-to-face — family, friends, co-workers or even doctors — you’re missing out! It’s not the way of the future, it’s the way of right now, especially during this time of great social isolation. Just this week a friend told me he had joined old friends to have a “cocktail party over Zoom” to while away their time! And also just this week I helped my siblings connect simultaneously with our parents using Zoom, from their respective homes (they had a great time and it made them smile). 

To effectively use Zoom, you’re going to need a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet or a smart phone (with a built-n camera or USB plug-in camera). Zoom is cloud-based, so it’s very cross-platform friendly; you don’t even need to install the kind of bulky, slow running software you might expect. Everything about Zoom feels light, smooth and quick to use. This is a huge part of the appeal; the other part is the ease and stability with which you can conference with so many faces when using Zoom. Sometimes new software comes along that is so useful and easy to use — such as YouTube, Wikipedia or GPS apps — that it’s paradigm changing. Zoom is one of those game-changers. 

So let’s get started. You simply have to sign into Zoom to begin if you’re looking to start a meeting. You will need to download Zoom software to join a meeting. You can download the required software here; the site will give many options for the right version of the Zoom software to install, depending on the device/platform you will be using. If you have a Gmail account or a Facebook account, you can log in right-a-way, using that login information. Or if you don’t have either, you can sign-in to Zoom after entering your work email; you will then find a confirmation email from Zoom in your work email inbox to help you sign-in. 

After clicking the activation link, a Zoom page would load asking for your name and for you to create a password. 

Then you will see a ” Start Meeting Now ” button (and a link for the meeting to copy/paste somewhere, such as in an email you’re posting, or on Facebook or Twitter, etc. Anyone wishing to join your meeting will have to click on the meeting link. If they received an automatic email invitation from you to join a particular meeting, they will need to sign in by typing  the pass code and Meeting ID included in the invitation email — after they click on the invitation link. It the invited people haven’t already installed Zoom software, they will see a message to download ” Zoom Client for Meetings ”  when they click on the invitation link (the right software to download for their computer will be auto-detected).  In my case I added Zoom as an extension on my Chrome Web browser, which I simply click on to enter any of my Zoom meetings).

(The Zoom Chrome Extension icon as seen installed on my Chrome Web browser (the blue/white camera icon)

To start a Zoom meeting you can simply click on the installed extension icon (see small blue/white icon in image above), and then sign in, and then click on ” Start a Meeting” and select ” Video On.”

You will then see a ” Connecting ” image momentarily — and then an image on the screen in front of you. If others are already at the meeting, you should see and hear them (they will be in other windows on the screen). Any user in a Zoom meeting can toggle on/off their video or audio by clicking ” Mute ” or ” Stop Video ” or ” Unmute ” or ” Start Video.” 

You will also see icons to do the following: end the meeting, share your desktop screen or applications with people at the meeting; invite people to join the meeting; start text chatting with someone at the meeting; and a button to manage the participants: 

In this particular meeting you are the host, so you have the Manager Participants options below:

If I had clicked on ” Schedule a Meeting ” a few steps back, the following page would have loaded:

Note the options above, such as the choice to enforce a password, for those entering the meeting — which would be included in the automatic email invitation.  

I have presented you with the basics of Zoom to get started. Those using a tablet or smart phone, or another device that includes using apps, can look for the Zoom app in their device’s app store (which might not be necessary for most, unless they’re using a smart phone or small tablet). Once installed it should be intuitive to immediately start using — for anybody who has gone through this tutorial.


You can also download/install Zoom to use as an extension or plugin to your Web browser or another app. By choosing Zoom Client for Meetings from the link above, I was led to the extension to add Zoom to my Chrome Web browser as a button. I can simply click on this button to open the software to sign into Zoom from now on. 


If you would like help getting started with your first Zoom meeting, you may send a meeting invitation to, and I will join the meeting and say hello. 

This isn’t the worst time to be stuck inside, so please take advantage of the free digital tools available to you now. Here’s another great reason: CPL will soon be offering Zoom programs for you to attend too!  

Lastly, here is a link to an article on security tips for using Zoom. You can access the NYTimes online from home using a redeemable code through the library’s website (found here) and then logging int the NYTimes website with your Google, Facebook or Apple login, or creating a new login. 

Jay Oliver
Technology Specialist 
Cranbury Public Library
(609) 655-0555













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