How to fix Zoom when it's freaking out

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ByTebany Yune
Originally Published: 

It might seem like a blessing from the work gods when Zoom goes down in the middle of a meeting. Finally, your prayers have been heard and you have an excuse to cut out for an early lunch. But come on, don't be that coworker. Your bosses need that TPS report or whatever and your teammates will just have to pick up your slack. Plus, in these isolating times Zoom meetings are a nice lifeline to other humans outside of your specific pod.

So here are some steps to figure out how to get Zoom working again.

Close apps or programs you're not using

Zoom can take up a lot of memory (RAM) that helps your computer or phone manage the apps you open. If Zoom or your device is slowing down or struggling to work, try closing some programs to free up some thinking space so the app can work.

Make sure Zoom is updated

Zoom constantly gets updates. If one is available, the program will usually remind you when you open the app, but if you've noticed you're missing one then go ahead and do it manually. The company has very good instructions on how to do so on their support page.

Check if Zoom is down

Check websites like DownDetector and Zoom's official Twitter account to see if you've got an excuse to bow out of the meeting. If Zoom's servers are down, then you're really out of luck until they're back up again. Go ahead and enjoy that leisurely outside lunch.

It's not exactly rare for hiccups to happen with videoconferencing services, either. In fact, Zoom had a huge outage in late August that disrupted the schedules of employees and students (to the delight and annoyance of many). It also made critics question whether relying on a single service was a good idea.

If you're an employer or teacher, consider setting up a backup service like Google Meet (formerly Google Hangouts) just in case Zoom isn't working.

Audio isn't working on Zoom

What if Zoom is running, but you can't hear anything and other people can't hear you? There are a few settings you can fiddle around with that might help here.

Make sure you're not muted: You'd be surprised how often people forget they're muted during a call. Even Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made that mistake during the big tech antitrust hearing in July. If it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone.

Click on the little microphone at the bottom of your Zoom screen to adjust your audio and unmute yourself. If you're using a computer headset with a separate mic, make sure you haven't muted that as well by checking the volume switch to see if it's on.

Check your audio settings: If it's not your mic, then you might need to go through your other settings. Access your audio settings via Zoom and go through your preferences to make sure it matches what you have on your device. You can also test your settings, including your microphone volume, to make sure other people can hear you.

If your Zoom settings are fine, then check your computer settings. For Windows, click on the speaker icon in the lower right-hand corner and check which audio is connected to your computer. Sometimes, especially if you're using a headset with a separate mic, the computer won't automatically pick up a new audio device. Go ahead and switch it manually to fix this.

For Mac users the steps are basically the same. You just access your audio settings through the Apple menu instead.

Video isn't working on Zoom

Some bosses and teachers really want to see every attendee's face during a meeting. If you're struggling to make your video work, here's some advice that might help.

Make sure you haven't turned off your video: Just like the mic, you might've forgotten that your video is turned off. Hit the video button in the bottom bar on Zoom to toggle it back on. You can use the same button to give yourself a neat virtual background while you're recording, too.

Check your video settings: The little video button is also how you can access the rest of your video settings. If you happen to have a different webcam you want to use — other than the one that comes with your laptop, for example — you might need to tell Zoom to switch to that one instead.

Zoom is working, but it stutters and lags

Is the program acting weird even though it's working and the settings are fine? Then you'll need to check your internet connection. If your internet is slow or acting up, then switch your phone or computer to a stronger network. If you're at home, try restarting your router to see if that'll clear up the issue.

Otherwise, you might be left with no other choice but to cross your fingers and hope it'll clear up without dropping completely. Don't worry, you're not alone with your internet woes. A lot of Americans are struggling with getting decent internet access and speeds to keep up with work and school these days.

Restart your device

Whether you're using your computer or a smartphone, restarting can often be the catalyst that cleans out the problem — whatever it may be. It's the best way to make sure you're starting with a clean slate before booting up the program again.

Make sure all your work is saved and closed out properly, and then shut it down and fire it back up. Fingers crossed!