Online conferencing services such as Zoom have become popular means of communicating over distances. People are looking to cut phone costs, connect with multiple people at once who may live or work far away from each other, or even stay apart intentionally to protect each other from sickness and other threats to our safety. So it might not be too long before a friend, family member, or other acquaintance asks you to join them on a Zoom call.
But if you’ve never used Zoom before, how do you know what to expect? You don’t really want to be spending embarrassing, awkward moments on the call (especially if it’s your first) trying to figure out what all the buttons do, or scrambling to fix your microphone, speakers, or webcam because the other people can’t hear or see you properly.
So before you jump right into your first Zoom meeting, it may be a good idea to try out the controls and make sure your sound & camera setups are working properly. Fortunately, Zoom has a special test meeting that will let you do just that. We’ll walk you through how to get it up and running, as well as some essential troubleshooting that will save you headaches once you go for the real deal.
What is covered in this article
Let’s start at square one with how to actually get into the test meeting room that Zoom has set up.
How to join a Zoom test meeting
To join a test meeting room on Zoom, to go to the Zoom.us test meeting page and click Join. Follow the prompt to launch your device’s Zoom Meetings client (if necessary). If prompted to, enter your preferred screen name and select whether to join the meeting with your video on or off. Boom! You’re in!
You do not need a Zoom account to join a test meeting, but you do need to have the Zoom client installed for your device (or browser). Zoom’s Download Center has links to the various clients, and you can read our Zoom quick-start guide for help getting the most common ones up and running.
Okay, the process is a little (but only a little) more complicated than that. Here’s what it looks like in a bit more detail:
- Open a web browser and navigate to the Zoom homepage at https://zoom.us. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and under the “Support” heading, click Test Zoom.
As a shortcut, you can also just go to https://zoom.us/test.
- Once you’re on the test meeting page, hit the big blue Join button.
- Depending on your browser settings, you may be asked to open Zoom Meetings (or to download and install Zoom, if you haven’t already). Click Open Zoom Meetings (or Join Meeting and then OK on mobile devices) to open the Zoom client for your device and start the test meeting.
- On some platforms, depending on your settings, you may be asked to enter your name and check your video settings if you aren’t logged in. Type in your name and click OK.
You’ll then be shown a preview of what your video feed will look like. You can choose whether or not to always check your video before you start a meeting (the toggle button), and also whether you want to join the meeting with your video on or off (the two big buttons). Tap Join with Video to continue.
If you don’t like your current video setup, don’t worry; we’ll show you how to tinker with it later, and you may not want or need to use it at all.
In a few seconds, you should be in the meeting room. Congrats! From here, we’ll look at some diagnostics you can run to make sure your audio and video are in good working order.
This is the only way to join a test meeting, as there is no fixed Zoom test meeting number. This is for privacy reasons, as Zoom doesn’t want other users getting into meeting rooms uninvited simply by knowing the meeting ID number.
How to have a Zoom meeting test your mic and speakers
Once you’re inside the test meeting room, one thing you should do is check whether your audio systems are synced properly to Zoom. There is a function that will let you do this for both your output (e.g. speakers, headphones, earbuds, etc.) and your input (i.e. microphone). Here’s how to make use of it:
- Click the small arrow beside the Mute/Unmute button and select Test Speaker & Microphone.
- The first test is for your audio output, to see if you can hear the sounds and voices of other people. A ringtone will play. If you can hear it, click Yes. If you can’t, click No, and Zoom will switch to a different output on your device and play the sound again. You can also select your output manually using the drop-down menu at the bottom of the window.
The “Output Level” gauge shows approximately how loud sounds coming out of your device are, based on its settings. If you are having trouble hearing the ringtone, check how full this gauge gets. If it doesn’t fill very much, you may simply need to turn up your system or speaker volume.
- The second test is for your microphone, to make sure that other people can hear you when you speak. Say something into your microphone, pause for a moment, and then wait for it to be played back to you. If you hear it, click Yes. If not, click No, and Zoom will try to find another microphone to test (if one is available).
You can also view and select other available microphones in the drop-down menu at the bottom of the box.
Like with the sound output test, the “Input Level” gauge shows the approximate volume at which your microphone is picking up your voice. So if it isn’t filling up too much, increasing your microphone’s volume may fix the problem.
- If both tests come out okay, click Finish. If not, you can try joining a meeting with your phone.
Checking your camera in a test Zoom meeting
In most cases, it’s not nearly as important that your video feed is working in a Zoom call as it is that your speakers and microphone are letting you hear and be heard. However, it’s necessary if you want to show the other participants something — even if that’s just your smiling face!
Fortunately, there’s a way to check it in a test meeting for Zoom, as well. Here’s how:
- Click the small arrow beside Start Video / Stop Video and select Video Settings.
- Here, you can click the drop-down menu beside “Camera” to select which camera you’re using. If the current one isn’t working, try connecting another one to your computer (if you haven’t already) and selecting it from this list.
You can also use the radio buttons below the “Camera” menu to control your video’s aspect ratio; this can be helpful if using a widescreen format distorts the picture.
In addition, under “My Video,” you can enable HD-quality video (if available), apply a mirror effect to your screen — which comes in handy for correcting a camera that flips your image by default — or even touch up your appearance with a softening camera focus effect that reduces the look of blemishes on your skin!
The “Touch Up My Appearance” feature only works on Windows, Mac, or iOS running Zoom 4.0 or later.
- There are a few other options further down that affect how video feeds — both your own and those of other meeting participants — behave on your display while you’re in a meeting. Below that, you can click Troubleshooting for a list of suggestions you can try if your video still isn’t working properly.
If you’re on a Windows or Mac version of the Zoom app, you can also click Advanced to view some of the advanced settings for your video.
- There’s one more trick we can show you, but it only works on the Windows version of Zoom. If your video isn’t oriented properly, you can correct that in your settings, as well. Scroll back up to your video preview, and you’ll notice that there is a button in the top right corner that says Rotate 90°. Click that until your video is right side up.
- When you’re done testing your settings and experimenting with Zoom’s interface, click Leave > Leave Meeting to end the test meeting.
If you’re a new Zoom user, we hope your test session was a fruitful opportunity to get a feel for how the program works. And even if you’ve been using Zoom for a while, we also hope it was a chance to iron out any problems you may have been experiencing.
Either way, with any luck, you’ll be all set for a full-fledged meeting now! So be sure to read our tutorial on how to join a Zoom meeting if you’re not familiar with how that works, and check out the rest of our Zoom course for more how-tos!