UCL News


Today's Zoom tip – 25 February 2021

25 February 2021

This week, a guide on how to customise your display when using the Zoom desktop client.



There are three main views available when no one is sharing their screen. These are:  

  • Active Speaker view – the person speaking appears in the larger video window and everyone else is in smaller windows in a grid above   
  • Gallery view – everyone appears in small video windows in a grid known as a gallery   
  • Floating Thumbnail view – you minimise the main Zoom window but can still see small video feeds while you are looking at other windows on your machine. 

Top Tip: to avoid someone accidentally becoming the active speaker due to background noise, all participants who aren’t speaking should be on mute.

Customisation options

Here are some ways to customise your gallery of video feeds.

Change the video order 
You can click and drag video windows around to customise the order and, if you are the host, deploy this custom view to everyone on the call. For example, you can use this option to make the video line up reflect the order people are speaking in. 

Hide non-video participants 
It’s possible to hide people who are not showing their video. This removes any named black squares (e.g. ‘Julie’s I pad’) and can be especially useful in large meetings where not all video feeds can be displayed on the screen at once.

Hide your own video feed 
As with the above, this is a useful trick to free up space for another video to be displayed instead of your own. It prevents you from being distracted by your own video, but if you choose this option do remember that other people on the call can still see you! 

Pin or spotlight videos 
This option enlarges the video window of one or more participants and is similar to active speaker view, except that in this case the video window(s) remain enlarged regardless of who is speaking.  

Spotlighting can only be done by the host or co-host and affects everyone’s view, whereas pinning only affects your own view and can be done by anyone.

Please see this article on pinning participants’ videos for more details. 

Full screen mode 

In either active speaker or gallery view, you can turn full screen mode on and off. Full screen mode makes full use of the screen for videos, and shared content and other panes, such as Chat or Participants, float over this. This is helpful if you want to have more control over the size and position of panes, but they can obscure some of the main zoom window which may be distracting. You are also unable to switch to other windows on your computer whilst in full screen mode. 

You can choose whether or not to start your meetings in full screen mode in the settings. 

Layout when screen sharing 

When screen sharing, the shared screen is displayed in a large window and participant videos in a grid of smaller windows above. You can also opt for Side-by-side mode which allows you to see the shared screen alongside either the speaker or the whole gallery. 

For more details, please read the changing the video layout (Active Speaker view and Gallery view) article.

Dual monitors 

If you are using more than one monitor, the active speaker window can appear on one monitor while the grid appears on the other. If someone is screen sharing, the shared screen can be on one monitor while the other displays gallery or active speaker view.   

If you are sharing a PowerPoint presentation, you can share a slide show while seeing the presenter view with notes and upcoming slide on the other monitor. For more information, please read the screen sharing a PowerPoint presentation article.

Note that you can turn off dual monitor in the settings so that you can view something else on your second monitor. You can also swap around what is displayed on each monitor. To learn more about using dual monitors, see the article on using dual monitors with the Zoom desktop client

If you have any tips for using Zoom which have really helped you make the most of the product, please email isd-webcomms@ucl.ac.uk or post your tip on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #zoomtips. If you are having any specific issues with the set-up of Zoom, please contact zoomsupport@ucl.ac.uk.