Zoom is a video-conferencing tool used by 18F for large meetings, such as the weekly all-hands. We recommend it for a video calls with over twenty participants. Use of the native Zoom app is usually much lighter on machine resources (especially the CPU) than Google Hangouts.

Zoom lives on the web at https://zoom.us


If you’ve been invited to a Zoom meeting, you’ve likely been given a zoom.us URL. Clicking that URL will take you to a page that lets you join the meeting using your web browser or to download the Zoom client app for your computer. We generally recommend installing the native client if you have time, as it’s often smoother and faster to use than the web client.

To install the client natively on your Mac, download it here and double click the .pkg file. Accept the defaults and click next until it completes the install. It will open the app following installation, where you can set your defaults.

How to create a Zoom account

Go into the #admins-zoom channel and ask for an invite with the following script: “Zoom invite please! My GSA email address is YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS.” One of the admins will log into 18F Zoom console and send you an invitation to be part of our shared zoom org via email. Click on the link to accept the invitation, and set up your access either via Google OAuth (recommended) or by creating a separate password.

Alternatively, you can create your own account here. However, if you think that you will ever need to host a meeting longer than 40 minutes, you should just request an invitation so that you belong to the 18F organization. If you already have an account, you can still be added to the 18F organization in the future.

How to host a meeting

Due to how we currently have our Zoom licenses set up, the instructions are different depending on whether your meeting is intended to be shorter or longer than 40 minutes.

If you log into Zoom, under the tab “My Profile,” you will see a Personal Meeting ID. This ID contains a URL, which you are free to give to anyone who wants to join your meeting. This URL is static and does not change. If you need a unique URL, you can create one in the “My Meetings” tab.

To dial into your meeting, the phone number is: 408 638 0968 or 646 558 8656 plus the Meeting ID number listed next to Personal Meeting ID in your Zoom Profile.

For meetings shorter than 40 minutes (Free tier)

Create a Zoom account (see above) and log in. You’ll see a link that allows you to both create and moderate meetings. This moderation panel can be really useful for doing things like muting everyone (since there’s always someone who leaves their mic open accidentally).

Unfortunately, the “shorter than 40 minutes” is a hard limitation on our Zoom accounts. Once your meeting reaches 40 minutes, it’s over! RENEW! RENEW! An easy (albeit annoying) way to get around this is simply for everyone to exit and re-enter the meeting, using the same link (the timer will restart).

These meetings do not need to be scheduled in advance and you may hold as many as you like.

For meetings longer than 40 minutes (Pro tier)

Let the Zoom Admins know as far in advance as possible in #admins-zoom. Currently 18F only has two Pro licenses that allow for meetings longer than 40 minutes. What this means to you is that longer meetings need to be scheduled and are generally a “first come, first served” scenario. Zoom meetings are tracked on a Google Calendar called “Zoom Scheduling.” We have one license for meetings with over 50 participants.

Before your scheduled meeting, the Zoom Admins will promote your account to Pro Status. If there are multiple meetings scheduled that day, your account will be promoted as soon as the Pro account is available. The Zoom Admins will try to schedule 30 minutes on each side of the requested time to allow you ample setup time as well as padding in the event that your meeting runs long.

To schedule a meeting, please post your request in #admins-zoom. The request should include the date, time, and applicable time zone. If your meeting is recurring, please include the end date.

Please revalidate all recurring meeting requests annually in #admins-zoom.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: If I am hosting a Free meeting and it looks like it will go long, can you promote me to Pro? A: No. Once your meeting has started, it will not convert to a Pro meeting without restaring the meeting. That being said, Pro meetings will convert to Free if the license is needed elsewhere.

Q: Will 18F be getting more Pro licenses? A: Yes! More licenses are currently in the works as part of the larger SaaS buy.

Q: I don’t need moderation and want to host a longer meeting. Is there a link that I can just use? A: Not yet. We hope to have one or two generic accounts that can be used on demand. Of course, there is the risk that someone else may be using it at that time and you could interrupt their meeting. We’re working on logistics for managing these scenarios.

Q: Will you notify me when you upgrade my account to Pro? A: Sometimes. This is time permitting and more at your request.

Q: How much advance notice do you need for a longer meeting? A: As much as possible. If there is no one on the calendar, and Infrastucture is available, you account could be converted quickly. But please ask in advance whenever possible.