• Home

  • Productivity

  • App tips

App tips

3 min read

How to raise your hand on Zoom—without clicking a button

Use gesture recognition in Zoom to quickly give a thumbs up or raise your hand.

By Jessica Lau · February 21, 2023
App tips Zoom

As a kid, the feedback section of my report cards consistently said the same thing: "Jessica is a social butterfly," which was a euphemism for "Jessica is extremely chatty and asks more questions than I'm prepared to answer at 8 a.m. on a Monday morning." 

Thirty-odd years later, and absolutely nothing's changed. If we're in a Zoom meeting, I'm the person always raising my hand to ask a question—or to tell a story that's completely unrelated to the work at hand. 

This also means that I constantly find myself hitting Zoom's Raise Hand button. While this is a perfectly fine way to get someone's attention, Zoom's gesture recognition allows me to do the same thing—without clicking a button. 

Here, I'll show you how to enable Zoom's gesture recognition, so you can raise your hand or give a thumbs up. 

How to enable gesture recognition in Zoom 

By default, Zoom's gesture recognition is disabled at the account and group level. Here's how to quickly enable it before you join your next meeting. 

  1. Open the Zoom desktop client (i.e., the Zoom app—not your web account). 

  2. Click the settings cog icon. 

    Zoom Desktop Client with an arrow pointing to the settings cog icon.

  3. By default, a Settings window will open with the General tab selected. If that's not the case for you, select General

  4. Under Reactions, check Activate the following emojis based on hand gesture recognition: 👍🏻🖐🏻

    General tab of Zoom settings in Zoom Desktop Client. The option "Activate the following emojis based on hand gesture recognition thumbs up and raised hand" is selected.

Alternatively, you can also enable this feature during a meeting. Here's how. 

  1. During a Zoom meeting, select ^ beside Reactions in the meeting control bar. 

  2. Click Recognize hand gestures 👍🏻🖐🏻. A checkmark will appear beside this option to indicate that the feature is on. 

Portion of Zoom's meeting control bar. The up arrow beside "Reactions" is selected with a checkmark beside "Recognize hand gestures thumbs up and raised hand" to indicate the feature is turned on.

Once you enable Zoom's gesture recognition, it'll remain on for all your meetings. To disable this, deselect the feature in your Zoom settings or from the meeting control bar. 

Note: Currently, Zoom's gesture recognition feature only works for Raise Hand 🖐🏻 and Thumbs Up 👍🏻 reactions. 

How to use gesture recognition in Zoom 

Now that we've got the boring stuff out of the way, let's move on to the fun! 

Let's say you want to give a Thumbs Up (👍🏻) reaction during a Zoom meeting—or, in my case, a demonstration video with my unenthused dog. Simply give a thumbs up within the camera frame, and hold it for a few seconds. While you do this, a thumbs up emoji inside a hollow circle will pop up in your meeting window. The circle will gradually fill in, and once it does, a thumbs up emoji will appear at the top of your video. 

Closeup of Jessica and her unimpressed dog. Jessica gives a demonstration of how Zoom's gesture recognition works when giving a thumbs up.

If you change your mind about giving a Thumbs Up reaction emoji while the circle is filling in, simply drop your hand, and the emoji will disappear. 

Once the reaction emoji appears in your video, you can put your hand down. Your thumbs up emoji will automatically disappear after about 10 seconds. 

The process is the exact same to give a Raise Hand 🖐🏻 reaction, with one exception: the moment a raised hand emoji appears in your video, a 🖐🏻 Lower Hand button will also appear on your screen. You must click this button to make your raised hand emoji disappear (i.e., lower your hand). Otherwise, you'll have your hand raised for the entirety of the meeting.

How to troubleshoot gesture recognition in Zoom

For the most part, I think Zoom's gesture recognition feature is…handy. But when I first started using it, there were times when the frustration slash hilarity it caused far outweighed the convenience.

Here are the two most common issues you might run into—and how to solve them. 

  1. Gesture recognition doesn't recognize your thumbs up: Be sure to have your thumb pointing straight up. If it's on an angle or sideways, Zoom won't recognize this gesture. 

  2. Gesture recognition doesn't recognize your hands up: Zoom's a little particular about this one. For the Raise Hand emoji reaction, Zoom suggests using your left hand on the left side of your screen (and vice versa). Regardless of the hand you're using, be sure to have your palm flat and facing the camera. 

One more thing: If you're presenting, or if you communicate with your hands, I'd suggest turning off this feature. 

For example, I definitely wouldn't want the feature on for my American Sign Language (ASL) classes. Since ASL relies on hand gestures and facial expressions to communicate, it would be more distracting than helpful to have Zoom mistake some of my signs as me wanting to raise my hand or give a thumbs up. 

Now if Zoom evolved this feature to include more gestures, like thinking face 🤔, and the ability to choose specific gestures I want to turn into emoji reactions, I could see myself using gesture recognition in all my meetings and classes. Excuse me while I drop this idea in their suggestion box. 

Related reading

Get productivity tips delivered straight to your inbox

We’ll email you 1-3 times per week—and never share your information.

mentioned apps

Related articles

Improve your productivity automatically. Use Zapier to get your apps working together.

Sign up
A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'