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How to play background music on Zoom—without sharing your screen

Share audio only on Zoom for fitness classes and more

By Justin Pot · February 25, 2021
A hero image for Zoom app tips with the Zoom logo on a blue background

Maybe you're running a gym with online classes that need music. Maybe you just want some low-fi hip hop beats to relax/discuss quarterly earnings to. Whatever the case, sometimes you want to share music during a Zoom call without sharing your screen.

You could just play something and hope your microphone picks it up, but that's going to be low quality. Instead, you can share full quality music over Zoom, without sharing your screen, thanks to a hidden setting. Here's how to find it and some tips for using it.

Go to share your screen, as normal, then click the Advanced tab at the top of the window. 

The Advanced option when screen sharing on Zoom

You'll now see the Music or Computer Sound Only button. 

The audio only option when sharing

Click this, and Zoom will share whatever audio your computer is playing. Go ahead and play some music in Spotify, Apple Music, or even YouTube—it doesn't matter. Everyone on the call will hear your music without seeing your screen. This is perfect if you need a particular playlist for your online workout class. It's also great if you just want to set the proper tone for your Zoom hangout session, or even a meeting. 

This is straightforward enough, but there are some potential complications. Here are a few tips to make sure your musical meeting goes well: 

  • Do a trial run first. If you've never shared audio, you'll need to install a special audio driver. Consider trying it out in a test session before using it for real because you don't want to be dealing with drivers during a call. (It only takes a minute or two, but it'll be awkward.)

  • Check volume levels. Sometimes people will have trouble hearing the music or hearing each other over the music. It's hard to tell this is happening, as the host, so be intentional about it: ask someone else on the call if they can hear both you and the music. You can adjust the volume in your music app or using your system volume until things are just right. 

  • Consider using headphones. Your microphone can pick up on the music you're playing. Zoom is pretty good about filtering it out, but occasionally people might hear a weird echo. The simplest way to prevent this is by wearing headphones. 

Done with the music? You can stop sharing your computer's audio by clicking the red Stop Share button at the top of your Zoom window. 

The stop share button in Zoom

Want more Zoom knowledge? Learn how to make your Zoom background music even more polished. Then check out our top 10 tips and tricks for Zoom, or learn how to become a literal Zoom chat wizard. Just make sure you're waving at the end of every call.

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