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Videoconferencing programs

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Videoconferencing programs: Whether it’s at school, work or a call with friends, it’s always important to be able to keep in touch despite the distance. In fact, for teleworking or simply due to a particular situation that does not allow you to see your loved ones or to reach your school, it may happen that you need to “be there in person”, and what better way than a video call all together?

A videoconference is, in fact, considered a real meeting between people, between the possibility of talking in real time with someone and sharing files and information it will be just as if you and your friends or colleagues are in the same room. Consider that certain programs are even used in the Public Administration to allow employees to communicate effectively.

I know very well how the distance can be felt and it is precisely for this reason that today I am here to show you some videoconferencing programs that you can use, for free, with a little effort and the use of your computer. The applications I’m going to discuss are in fact usable on multiple platforms, so don’t worry and keep reading: you will surely find the solution that best suits you in the next paragraphs.

Index

Free video conferencing programs

The Internet is teeming with video conferencing programs that allow you to connect with loved ones, employers, colleagues and customers anywhere in the world. But which are the best? I try to tell you. Continue reading the next paragraphs and I’m sure that, in less than five minutes, you will have found the one that’s right for you.

Zoom (Windows / macOS / Linux)

Zoom Meetings is a video conferencing platform with a really simple and intuitive interface. It is mainly used in the workplace and school – in fact it allows you to create rooms in which to share content and talk with users – but it is suitable for many purposes, also because it works by simply sharing a unique link to invite conferences.

I’ll start by explaining how to access it. First, connect to the official Zoom site and press the Subscribe button, it’s free (top right). Once this is done, indicate your date of birth . You will then be prompted to enter an email address to register: enter yours and then press the Subscribe button .

Then confirm your account from the automatic email sent to you by Zoom, fill in the registration form with your personal data and press the Next and Ignore buttons this step . Alternatively, please note that you can also authenticate with an SSO , Google or Facebook account .

Once you have registered, you can click on the Login item from the Zoom home page . Then enter your login details and press the Login button . At the top right, hover the mouse cursor over the Host a meeting button and choose one of the available modes between video on , video off and screen sharing .

If you are using Windows , once you have chosen the sharing of the room, a download will start automatically: if not, you can press the word Download now (under the Start meeting button ). Then start the .exe file you just downloaded, answer affirmatively to the warnings that appear on the screen, wait for the upload to finish and click on the Accept button .

At this point, your Zoom session will start and, depending on the option you have previously chosen for the room, you will have several tools at your disposal. For example, I’ll point out the possibility of sharing or recording the screen .

If you want to invite a user to the session, all you have to do is press on the Participants and Invite buttons , click on the Copy invitation link button and send the link in question, together with the password on the right, to the people you want to invite to your conference . Of course, there are other tools, such as the chat , the ability to add reactions on the screen and of course the buttons to disable and enable the microphone and webcam during the call.

If, on the other hand, you are operating from Mac , download the Zoom client from the official website by pressing the Download button . Then open the .pkg file obtained and click on the Continue and Install buttons . You will then be asked to enter the Mac administration password : wait for the installation to finish and log in to proceed with the videoconferencing as explained above. More info here.

Skype (Windows/macOS/Linux)

conference creation on skype

Skype is perhaps the most famous tool for making calls and video calls from a PC. At least once in our life, practically everyone has had the opportunity to see it up close. The well-known platform owned by Microsoft allows you to make video calls , send photos , documents , audio and even call telephone numbers via VoIP (More info here). Furthermore, it is not necessary to download the application, but you can make calls directly from its website. I’ll tell you more about this later in the tutorial; now let’s focus on the desktop program.

To be able to download it, connect to its official website and select the operating system you are using. In the case of Windows , press the Save key on the page that opens and run the .exe file you just obtained, a security window will open for user control, then click on the Yes button to authorize the installation. Then press the Yes and Install buttons and wait for the program to install. If you have any problems, check out my guide on how to install Skype.

At the end of the installation, you must click on the Start and Log in buttons and log in with your Microsoft account: if you do not have one yet, click on the Create account item , enter your details and, in the first screen that appears, click on the dial that says Upload photo and select a beautiful image that represents you; then press the Continue button three consecutive times, click on the OK button and that’s it. More info here.

If, on the other hand, you are downloading Skype on a Mac , once you have selected your operating system, a .dmg file will start downloading : run it, double-clicking on it, then drag the Skype icon into the Applications folder and then start the program. Then click on the Open button to confirm that you want to start the software even though it comes from third parties and complete the configuration in the exact same way I explained it for Windows a few lines above.

Your account is now configured and ready to use: to start a videoconference you just have to click on the Meeting button , on the left. Then choose if you want to join an existing conference or if you want to create one . In the first case, choose Organize a meeting and share your invitation with all the people you want to have in the call; then start it by clicking on the Start meeting button .

There are several tools that you can use while the call is in progress: you can in fact record the screen , share it , deactivate and activate the microphone and webcam and book your turn (thanks to the Raise your hand button ).

If, on the other hand, you wish to enter an existing room, you will need the unique link that the call organizer will have to share with you. Once obtained, click on the items Meeting> Join the meeting and insert the link in question.

Discord (Windows/macOS/Linux)

call on discord

Discord is a platform mainly used for calls and content sharing, through the creation of private servers to which you can invite all the people you want. Discord is very popular especially among gamers, but its characteristics make it suitable for any type of environment, given its vast potential.

In order to download it, you need to go to the Discord website . Similarly to Skype, Discord also allows you to access your online features, in fact through the browser you can access your account and use the same functions that you would have with the installation of the program.

That said, if you are operating from a Windows PC , press the Download for Windows and Save buttons , then run the .exe file obtained and wait for the application to install (answer affirmatively to the warnings that appear on the screen).

If the operating system you are using is macOS , instead, proceed by clicking on the Download for Mac button and be patient for a few moments for the download to end. When the download is complete, run the .dmg file obtained, move the Discord icon to the Applications folder and run the program: you will be asked whether to open the file despite being a third-party application: press the Open button (this operation is only necessary on first launch and serves to bypass macOS restrictions on applications from non-certified developers).

You can then log in if you already have an account, alternatively you can click on the sign Register at the bottom, set your access data and select the Continue button . You will then be sent a confirmation email : open it, click on the verification link inside it and you will be able to access the software.

At first glance, Discord’s interface may seem difficult to understand but rest assured, it’s actually a lot simpler than it looks. The easiest and fastest way you have to make a video conference is to add your friends and then call them: to do this, you just have to select the icon with the image of Discord , at the top left, and go to select the Add Friend option on the next screen.

Then enter the username of a friend, followed by the respective code (each Discord user has a name and a hashtag, like this Name # 1234 ); click on the cartoon icon with a + located at the top right, select the elements you want to add and create the group . Now you just have to click on the image of the video camera , at the top, and start the call. Very simple, right?

This application is extremely configurable: it is possible to mute people , individually lower the volume of each member of the call , manage the various permissions and even create servers to group all your friends or colleagues. If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to check out my article on how to create a Discord server.

Free online video conferencing programs

If you don’t have the time or resources to download a video conferencing program to your computer, perhaps the best solution for your needs is to use a fast, lightweight online service that runs directly from your browser. I have selected a list of solutions that could help you: continue reading and within a few minutes you will be on call with your colleagues.

Google Meet

meeting on google meet

Google Meet is the well-known video conferencing platform from Google. It provides a user-friendly environment and requires no special configuration: all you need to use it is a Google account and a couple of minutes of your time.

Let’s start immediately: go to the official Meet website from a compatible browser (I suggest Chrome) and, if you are already logged in to your Google account, you just have to enter the code that was given to you by the videoconference organizer and click on the word Join .

Alternatively, if you want to host the call, press the New meeting , Start a meeting now and Join buttons . Once in the call, you will be able to share your code thanks to the link obtained by pressing the Meeting Details button (bottom left).

The great thing about Google Meet is that, being synchronized with your Google account, it allows you to access your contacts much faster and favors teamwork. It allows you, in fact, to select the contacts you want to add to the call directly from your Gmail box , and is also optimized for sharing documents on Google Drive , thus ensuring instant sharing of any content you are trying to expose.

The basic functions, such as microphone activation and deactivation, multimedia sharing and screen sharing, are present; in addition, Google Meet allows you to draw in real time on a digital whiteboard, activate self- generated subtitles and set backgrounds in video calls . More info here.

Skype Online

call on skype online

As I mentioned earlier, Skype also allows you to make online video conferences, without the need to download specific applications. Going to the official Skype website with one of the supported browsers (eg Chrome or Edge), indicate the name you want to give to your meeting and then press the Create a free meeting button .

Now share the invitation link on the screen and, once ready, click the Start Call and Join as Guest buttons ; then choose your temporary name and continue by clicking on Join . Now you just have to start your meeting, with the Start meeting button , and that’s it.

Skype Online provides the same features present in video calls on the application, it is possible to record and share your screen, book your shift, change video and audio settings and add reactions. I recommend this platform in case you need to make a video call quickly and without having to worry about accessing or downloading additional software. More info here.

Google Duo

creating a room on google duo

One of the best applications for online video calls is definitely Google Duo , which is accessible directly from the Google Chrome browser, via the official website , and from apps for Android and iOS / iPadOS devices .

To use it on PC, go to its main page from Chrome and, if necessary, log into your Google account. So you can finally start calling whoever you want: press the Create group link button and share the invitation code ; or, if you prefer, add attendees directly from your contacts.

Once the room is ready, proceed by starting the call with the appropriate button: Start call . The positive note of Google Duo is that you can start a call really quickly, I highly recommend it if you don’t have a lot of time and want to use a fast but efficient solution. More info here.

Other group video conferencing programs

Video call

If you don’t like the programs I mentioned earlier, I still have some very valid alternatives, which can also be used on mobile, that you could consider.

  • Messenger – is Facebook’s messaging, calling and video calling platform, accessible by anyone with an account on the famous social network. In case you don’t have an account yet, I suggest you read my guide on how to create a Facebook profile; it will take you a couple of minutes. The service is available in a web version and as an application for Android, iOS / iPadOS and Windows / macOS. Once you have logged into your computer profile, you will have to go to the top of the screen and click on the cartoon icon with the lightning bolt , then the list of your chats and contacts will open. Among the first icons is that of a video camera with a + and select it to start a call with the desired contacts. More info here.
  • WhatsApp – you should know that WhatsApp, the famous messaging system that you probably use every day on your smartphone, also offers the possibility of making calls between multiple users. In fact, you can select a group of people and call them at the same time, or alternatively add the elements individually to the call. However, this feature is only available in the mobile version of the platform; WhatsApp Web and the WhatsApp client for Windows / macOS don’t support calling, but you could theoretically bypass the problem with an Android emulator for PC. More info here.

For other solutions to make group video calls I leave you to my guide dedicated to the topic.