Managing Zoom Recording Settings

It is well worth checking in every so often on the global settings and preferences in your Zoom account. The company changes the options from time to time, sometimes giving you more flexibility and choice than you previously had.

I took a look today at the options for recording meetings and webinars to the cloud in Zoom. Sure enough, things have slipped in since the last time I examined them.

It’s important to note that these settings affect all sessions held in your account. To make a temporary change for a single meeting, you need to alter the global account setting and remember to change it back afterwards.

It’s also important to remember that you have a finite amount of cloud-resident storage space associated with your Zoom account. Once you run out of room, you need to delete older files in order to make new recordings. Certain option settings can greatly increase the amount of storage that a given event ends up using. There is a helpful Zoom help page describing the default capacities for different types of account and the cost to buy more space.

Here is a snapshot I took showing Cloud Recording Settings options today (Feb 1, 2021). These could change at any time without warning, and they can be different for different types of Zoom accounts. So take anything you see here with a grain of salt. I should also mention that the checkmarks do not represent recommendations or optimal settings. I was playing with them and this is just a random configuration snapped at some point in the process.

Zoom options for Cloud Recording

The first two options determine whether you see the full “Brady Bunch” view of multiple webcam windows from video participants (gallery view) or a single webcam window that automatically switches to whomever is speaking. I’m not a fan of active speaker view in a participatory meeting. You can get whiplash from rapid camera changes as somebody clears their throat or says a quick “mm hmm.” It tends to work best in presentation-oriented events where one person talks for a while and everyone else stays muted.

The third option is great if you plan to hand-edit the recording using video editing software that lets you size, move, and overlay different video snippets. But you can really eat up your available space with all those extra video files!

Adding an audio-only file is probably overkill if you are already producing a video file… You can just strip the audio from that. But if you want a ready-made file to send to a transcription or translation service, this is a nice way to save a step. Just remember that you are once again using more storage space online.

Having the option to display or suppress the user names that show up in webcam windows is great. This is one that I really wish was meeting-specific rather than account global.

“Record thumbnails when sharing” is an interesting one to think about. By default, Zoom overlays the active speaker window on the upper right corner of the screen share space. If you have slides where it’s important to see all the content space out to the corners, you might want to turn off this option.

The option to optimize for a 3rd party editor adds a great deal of processing time before the recording is ready and greatly increases the file size. But it removes a lot of the compression added to standard Zoom video files to let you work with a higher quality source for further editing. Remember that because this is a global setting, you can quickly chew up a lot of your storage capacity.

The final option is one that I know was added fairly recently, because I was still complaining about this not too long ago! We finally have the ability to show poll results if they were shared in the live session. I’m a firm believer in the recording showing the same thing that the live audience saw, so I was always baffled by the omission of polls from archive recordings. Hallelujah and turn this option on!

If you are an account owner/administrator, you’ll find these (and many other account options) under “Settings” in the far left navigation menu in your Zoom account. There are three tabs letting you focus on groups of options and these are found under the center “Recording” tab.

Good luck, and don’t forget to check your settings every few months. You never know what you may find as a new option.

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