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4 tips for getting the most out of Zoom chat

Acquire these Zoom chat superpowers in order to have a fulfilling career

By Justin Pot · January 13, 2021
A hero image for Zoom app tips with the Zoom logo on a blue background

Every week, Zapier hosts an all-hands meeting with all 400+ employees. There are presentations, of course, but there's also a lot of action in the chat. And it can be hard to keep up—that's probably why my friend Carly sent me this important message after a recent meeting.

A chat from Carly asking how to use emoji in Zoom chat

We've outlined tips and tricks for Zoom, but we somehow overlooked the chat feature. That's unacceptable. Here are a few things you need to know to get more out of Zoom chat. 

You can use emoji in Zoom chat

The Zoom chat sidebar is spartan, with no dedicated button for emoji. You might think this means you're living in a barren, emoji-less landscape, but you're not. You just need to use your system-wide emoji. 

On Windows, you can do this by pressing the Windows key and Period (.). This will open the emoji window.

The system-wide emoji for Windows

On a Mac, you can use the keyboard shortcut control+command+space

The system-wide Mac emoji

You can now search for and use any of the standard emoji in Zoom chat.

Sadly, you can't add custom emoji like in Slack. Still: it's emoji, in Zoom chat. Your coworkers will suspect that you're a literal wizard—and they will be right to think that. I ask that you use this power only for good and/or neutral causes. 

You can attach files in Zoom chat

Here's something else you didn't know: you can attach files in Zoom chat. Just drag them to the message. 

Dragging a file into Zoom chat

Alternatively, you can use the File button. Note that images and the like will not show a thumbnail, which in this case, means my coworkers will need to download the image before they can see my cat Mira and her beloved snek, which she adorably carries around the house all day. 

Preview showing just the file name

This is disappointing but understandable given the problem of Zoombombing. Regardless, attaching files to Zoom chat is useful for all kinds of things that aren't cat photos, from sharing documents relevant to a given meeting to sharing pictures of your dog. 

You can send private messages in Zoom chat (sort of)

You've probably only ever used the direct message feature accidentally, by clicking someone's name while scrolling through the chat. Turns out some people also use it on purpose. 

Sending a direct message in Zoom chat

This mode allows you to send a message to one specific person. They will see it in the same chat window, but it won't be sent to anyone else. This is a useful way to make a quick side statement to someone, without opening another app. 

Should you use this? It depends. In larger meetings, such messages will be quickly buried, so it's probably better to use your team chat app if it's something you need a response to. For quickly making a point, though, this can do the trick—particularly if the point you're making pertains to what's happening in the meeting right now. 

One important thing to note: Zoom allows users to export chat logs. Your private messages will be included if you, or the person you sent a private message to, use this export feature. 

The host of your Zoom meeting cannot read your private messages, contrary to popular belief. At least, that's the case according to my friend Chris Hoffman. But as with any communication tool your employer is paying for, I'd consider not saying anything that you wouldn't want your boss to see. 

You can save a copy of the Zoom chat

Do you want to treasure a particular chat for the rest of your life? It's understandable, and you can totally do that. Just click the button with three dots, then click Save Chat.

Saving the Zoom chat
Automatically upload Zoom recordings to Google Drive

This will save a text file of the chat to your computer and give you a link for opening that file. I recommend saving the transcript from every Zoom call you participate in and taping them all to your wall, so that the background for all of your Zoom meetings is the transcript from previous Zoom meetings. 

This will make you more efficient at work or something. Enjoy.

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