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Do I need to download Zoom to use it?

It is not necessary to download Zoom to use it so long as you have a browser and an internet connection.  However, there is a distinct difference when using each version of the app.

There are three versions of Zoom: the app for a computer (desktop or laptop), the mobile app, and the browser-based version.

Zoom app for desktop/laptop

The Zoom app designed for desktops/laptops provides you with complete functionality.  In essence, it means that you have access to ALL the features of Zoom that come with your plan.  By default, everyone starts at the basic plan.  Higher plans require additional payment.

Zoom app on a mobile device

The mobile version has majority of the features of the desktop version and is often preferred because the video usually has a better resolution than the desktop app.

Zoom on a web browser

Think of browser version as the “zoom of last resort” and only use it when all else fails.  Essential features are accessible but not everything that you would want.

Side by side comparison

Below is a side-by-side comparison of available features for a basic plan.  This should help you decide which version to use.

  Desktop   Mobile   Web Client  
Feature Host Participant Host Participant Host Participant
START OR JOIN A MEETING            
Display synced calendar events YES YES YES YES YES YES
Display upcoming meetings YES YES YES YES YES YES
Join a meeting in progress YES YES YES YES YES YES
Join a meeting without signing in YES YES YES YES YES YES
Pre-assign participants to breakout rooms that are setup by the host YES   YES   YES  
Schedule a one-time or recurring meeting YES   YES   YES  
Sign in using Zoom account, Google, Facebook, or SSO YES YES YES YES YES YES
Start an instant meeting YES   YES   YES  
View, edit, start, or delete your scheduled meetings YES   YES   YES  
IN-MEETING CONTROLS            
Change your own screen name YES YES YES YES YES YES
Gallery view and active speaker view YES YES YES YES YES YES
In-meeting chat YES YES YES YES YES YES
Invite others to join a meeting YES YES YES YES YES YES
Join computer audio YES YES YES YES YES YES
Live stream the meeting/webinar YES          
Live transcription YES YES YES YES YES YES
Mute/unmute mic YES YES YES YES YES YES
Non-verbal feedback YES YES YES YES YES YES
Reclaim host YES   YES   YES  
Share screen YES YES YES YES YES YES
Start a cloud recording YES YES YES YES YES YES
Start a local recording YES YES        
Start/stop video YES YES YES YES YES YES
IN-MEETING SECURITY CONTROLS            
Control if participants can mute/unmute themselves YES   YES   YES  
Control if participants can share a screen YES   YES   YES  
Control if participants can use in-meeting chat YES   YES   YES  
Enable/disable video receiving         YES  
Lock the meeting so that participants cannot enter a meeting in progress YES   YES   YES  
Place the attendee in a virtual waiting room YES   YES   YES  
MANAGE PARTICIPANTS            
Allow a participant to stop or start a recording YES   YES      
Assign a participant to be a co-host YES   YES   YES  
Assign a participant to be the host YES   YES   YES  
Automatically mute participants as they join the meeting YES   YES   YES  
Change a participant’s name displayed to other participants YES   YES   YES  
Control who participants can chat with YES   YES   YES  
Don’t allow participants to join the meeting in progress YES   YES   YES  
Mute all participants/ask all to unmute YES   YES   YES  
Put participants on hold YES   YES   YES  
Remove participant from a meeting YES   YES   YES  
Stop a participant’s video YES   YES   YES  
SHARE CONTROL SCREENS            
Control if multiple participants can share screen simultaneously YES       YES  
Pause your current shared screen YES YES     YES YES
Share device audio YES YES YES YES YES (android) YES (android)
Side-by-side mode YES          
Stop a participant’s screenshare YES   YES      
PROFILE            
Change a profile photo or screen name YES YES YES YES    
Manually change your status YES YES        
CHAT            
Delete your sent messages, images, or files YES YES YES YES    
Edit your sent messages YES YES        
Invite contacts to an existing chat YES YES YES YES YES YES
Mark messages as unread YES YES YES YES    
Save images or files sent in the chat YES YES YES YES    
Send a capture of the current screen YES YES        
Send animated gifs YES YES        
Send emoticons YES YES YES YES    
Send messages or files YES YES YES YES    
Share sent and received chat files with contacts YES YES YES YES    
Store chat message history YES YES YES YES    
View all files sent and received in chat YES YES YES YES    
SETTINGS            
Automatically disable your video when joining a meeting YES YES YES YES    
Automatically join meeting by computer or device audio YES YES YES YES    
Automatically mute when joining meeting YES YES YES YES    
Change notification settings for chat YES YES YES YES    
Display closed captions (if available) YES YES YES YES    
Insert a link preview whenever a chat message contains a link YES YES YES YES    
Touch up appearance YES YES        
Virtual background YES YES YES YES    

* Comparison taken from https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/360027397692-Desktop-client-mobile-app-and-web-client-comparison

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