The widely used video conferencing program offers useful options even in its free version. […]
Zoom became popular for video conferencing at the beginning of the pandemic, whether for private, academic or business purposes. Its popularity has not waned, but many of its best features are still not known. Local recording of audio and video files is one of them, and you missed it, considering the complexity of setting up and using it. Local recording is an option even for those who hold a session with Zoom’s free offer.
There are many reasons to record a session:
- Easy playing of the video for people who could not be present.
- Extracting parts of the session for specific purposes, such as for guidance or training information for other employees in a company.
- Production of a podcast, either by recording a single audio track of all participants, or by separate audio tracks that can be cut together.
- Recording a conversation for legal or other purposes.
Zoom notifies all participants when a recording starts during a session or is already in progress when they join the session and requires them to confirm that they are being recorded. You do not need to obtain consent separately, as Zoom automates this and prevents anyone from being recorded or joining the session if they do not agree to the recording. (Zoom allows some exceptions for companies at the higher service levels that record company sessions).
How to record a Zoom meeting
Start a recording during a session using the Meeting control.
To set up local recording on macOS, launch the Zoom app and go to zoom.us > Settings > Recording. There you can choose an alternative location for the recording files (the document folder of your home folder in a Zoom folder). The recordings are stored in a folder named with the date and time of the beginning of the session.
In the recording settings, you can also:
- let Zoom ask you for a location for the files each time; click Choose location….
- create separate audio files for each participant, which is convenient for editing podcasts or creating a clean audio recording.
- If you plan to edit the video after the session, enable Optimize for 3rd party video editor to generate a file format that is more suitable for video editing software.
To automatically start video recording when a zoom session starts, you cannot set this as a macOS or other app setting. Instead, it is a meeting setting. Create a meeting in the macOS app in the “Meetings” view: click on “Meetings” at the top of the screen and then on the plus sign “+” next to “Upcoming” and “Recording” in the upper left corner. You can also select an existing meeting and click Edit.
Click the Advanced options arrow to expand the settings and check the Automatically record meeting check box and select the Local option for a local recording. (Cloud records require a paid hosting tier and work a little differently).
If you want to start recording during a meeting, click the Record button in the meeting controls at the bottom of the session window. Select “Record on this computer” if you have the choice between this option and “Record in the cloud”. (If you don’t see the meeting controls, move the mouse over the bottom of the window.)
You can click on the “Pause” or “Stop” buttons next to the inscription “Record…” at the top of the screen to trigger these actions.
The host of a meeting can give permission to another person to record the session, but it’s hard to guess where this setting is located. You can find them in the list of participants: hover over the name of a meeting participant, click “More” and select “Allow recording”. A “Record” button will now appear in the meeting controls.
To avoid using too much computing power during a meeting, Zoom starts audio and video conversion (transcoding from its temporary storage format) after the meeting ends.
Zoom alerts you when you stop a recording during a session via the conversion (top); when the session ends, transcoding begins (middle); when it is completed, Zoom opens a Finder window with the converted items (bottom).
A progress bar will appear with a warning about renaming Zoom files for privacy reasons. Since Zoom names the files according to a certain pattern, storing Zoom files on a randomly publicly accessible server can lead to unauthorized people searching for them and finding them.
When Zoom finishes transcoding, it opens the folder in the Finder that contains the media files.
You can pause the transcoding if the timing is inconvenient, and later double the files in the Finder in your destination folder so that Zoom can continue the transcoding.