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Zoom's new video background has you rubbing virtual elbows. Here's how to use it

This new Zoom feature lets you virtually sit next to your friends, colleagues and family in a way you have to see to appreciate.

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Try out Zoom's immersive view feature to put yourself in the same virtual space as your coworkers. 

Zoom

If you're tired of staring at a grid of faces on your never-ending Zoom calls, a new virtual background can shake things up. Turn it on and you, your colleagues, friends and family members will be virtually imposed in the same virtual space, so it looks like you're sitting next to one another rather than the reality of conversing miles apart. 

The feature, called Immersive View, can place up to 25 participants in one meeting space. Whether it makes you feel more connected to others or not, the sight of groups commingling -- even in virtual form -- is striking. 

Zoom's use skyrocketed during the pandemic, as it became the video chat app of choice for millions of people for both work and socializing. With the rise of Zoom also came the concepts of Zoom fatigue, or the exhaustion of spending hours on video chat, and Zoom anxiety, or the stress that can come along with these meetings. As COVID-19 vaccines roll out nationwide, Zoom recently added a number of features to help workplaces prepare for future hybrid offices

Zoom's Immersive View is similar to Microsoft Teams' Together Mode -- a rare case when another video chat platform had a feature before Zoom did. 

Want to try it out? Here's how to enable Zoom's Immersive View to bring you and your coworkers together in a new virtual space. 

How to use Zoom's immersive view feature

1. If you're the meeting or webinar host, start the Zoom meeting on your desktop (it will be enabled by default for all free and single pro accounts using Zoom 5.6.3 or higher). In the top right corner, where you find Speaker or Gallery View, you'll see the option to enable Immersive View. Click Immersive View

2. Choose from one of Zoom's provided scenes to put your meeting participants in. You'll find layouts for groups of up to 25 people, as well as some for smaller groups. Or, you can upload your own. 

3. Your meeting participants or webinar hosts will now be placed in the same virtual background and will appear that way on every participants screen (unless they are using an older version of Zoom, in which case they'll see participants in either Gallery or Speaker View with a black background). Hosts can also move participants around in a scene and resize their image. 

If your meeting has more than 25 participants, the additional people will be displayed in a thumbnail strip on top of the shared scene. At this point, you aren't able to record meetings in Immersive view -- instead, recordings will appear as Gallery or Speaker layout. 

For more, check out our tips for using Zoom more effectively and how to change your Zoom background

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