Zoom is a video-conferencing tool used by 18F for large meetings. We recommend it for video calls with over twenty participants. Use of the native Zoom app is usually much lighter on machine resources (especially the CPU) than Google Hangouts.
Zoom lives on the web at https://zoom.us
If you’ve been invited to a Zoom meeting, you’ve likely been given a
zoom.us URL. Clicking
that URL will take you to a page that lets you join the meeting using your web browser or to
download the Zoom client app for your computer. We generally recommend installing the native
client if you have time, as it’s often smoother and faster to use than the web client.
To install the client natively on your Mac, download it here and double click the .pkg file. Accept the defaults and click next until it completes the install. It will open the app following installation, where you can set your defaults.
How to create a Zoom account
Go into the #admins-zoom channel and ask for an invite with the following script: “Zoom invite please! My GSA email address is
YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS.” One of the admins will log into 18F Zoom console and send you an invitation to be part of our shared zoom org via email. Click on the link to accept the invitation, and set up your access either via Google Auth (recommended) or by creating a separate password.
Alternatively, you can create your own account here. However, if you think that you will ever need to host a meeting longer than 40 minutes, you should just request an invitation so that you belong to the 18F organization. If you already have an account, you can still be added to the 18F organization in the future.
Once you have created your account, consider adding a profile picture and your location and pronouns to your display name. To enable the use of breakout rooms (to split participants up into smaller groups for an activity during a remote session), navigate to your profile on the Zoom web portal. Under Settings > In Meeting (Advanced), turn the Breakout room feature on. You will now be able to start breakout room sessions through a button labeled “Breakout Rooms” when you’re the host of a Zoom call.
How to host a meeting
Due to how we currently have our Zoom licenses set up, the instructions are different depending on whether your meeting is intended to be shorter or longer than 40 minutes.
If you log into Zoom, under the tab “My Profile,” you will see a Personal Meeting ID. This ID contains a URL, which you are free to give to anyone who wants to join your meeting. This URL is static and does not change. If you need a unique URL, you can create one in the “My Meetings” tab.
To dial into your meeting, the phone number is: 408 638 0968 or 646 558 8656 plus the Meeting ID number listed next to
Personal Meeting ID in your Zoom Profile.
For meetings shorter than 40 minutes (Free tier)
Create a Zoom account (see above) and log in. You’ll see a link that allows you to both create and moderate meetings. This moderation panel can be really useful for doing things like muting everyone (since there’s always someone who leaves their mic open accidentally).
Unfortunately, the “shorter than 40 minutes” is a hard limitation on our Zoom accounts. Once your meeting reaches 40 minutes, it’s over! RENEW! RENEW! An easy (albeit annoying) way to get around this is simply for everyone to exit and re-enter the meeting, using the same link (the timer will restart).
These meetings do not need to be scheduled in advance and you may hold as many as you like.
For meetings longer than 40 minutes (Pro tier)
Let the Zoom Admins know as far in advance as possible in #admins-zoom. Currently 18F only has two Pro licenses that allow for meetings longer than 40 minutes. What this means to you is that longer meetings need to be scheduled and are generally a “first come, first served” scenario. We have one large meeting extension for meetings with over 100 participants. You must have a pro account to have the large meeting extension.
Before your scheduled meeting, the Zoom Admins will promote your account to Pro Status. If there are multiple meetings scheduled that day, your account will be promoted as soon as the Pro account is available. The Zoom Admins will try to schedule 15 minutes before the requested time to allow you ample set up time.
To schedule a meeting, please post your request in #admins-zoom. The request should include the date, time, and applicable time zone. If your meeting is recurring, please include the end date.
Please revalidate all recurring meeting requests annually in #admins-zoom.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: If I am hosting a Free meeting and it looks like it will go long, can you promote me to Pro?
A: No. Once your meeting has started, it will not convert to a Pro meeting without restarting the meeting. That being said, Pro meetings can convert to Free 20 minutes before the meeting ends without affecting the meeting, if the license is needed elsewhere.
Q: Will 18F be getting more Pro licenses?
A: It is currently under consideration.
Q: I don’t need moderation and want to host a longer meeting. Is there a link that I can just use?
A: No. If you are scheduling a meeting, you need to use your Zoom link or a link from the “My Meetings” tab. You do not need to be present in the meeting for participants to join, unless you have the meeting settings set to have the host sign in before the meeting can start.
Q: Will you notify me when you upgrade my account to Pro?
A: No. This will only happen at your request.
Q: How much advance notice do you need for a longer meeting?
A: As much as possible. If there is no one on the calendar, and a Zoom Admin is available, your account could be converted quickly. But please ask in advance whenever possible.