Creating and using chat channels in Zoom

This post was most recently updated on July 28th, 2022

There are several ways for you to create channels, including private and public channels, which allow you to send messages, files, photos, as well as start instant meetings with other channel members.

It is easy to find existing channels and to join them, and if you are unsure whether a channel will be right for you, you can preview it to see the channel description, members, and recent messages before joining.

You can have as many as 10,000 members on a public channel, as many as 5000 members on a private channel on a paid account, and as many as 500 members on a private channel on a free account.

Prerequisites for chat channels

Joining and using chat channels:

  • Client for Zoom desktop
    • Version 5.2.1 or higher is required for Windows
    • It is recommended that you use macOS version 5.2.1 or higher
    • It is recommended that you use Linux version 5.2.1 or higher
  • App Zoom for mobile devices
    • Version 5.2.1 or higher is required for Android devices
    • The iOS version must be 5.2.1 or higher in order to work

Previewing channels before joining:

  • A desktop client for Zoom is available for download
    • It is recommended to use Windows version 5.9.0 or higher
    • It is recommended to use macOS version 5.9.0 or higher
    • It is recommended that you use Linux version 5.9.3 or higher
  • App Zoom for mobile devices
    • Version 5.9.0 or higher is required for Android devices
    • The iOS version must be 5.9.0 or higher
  • There is no Advanced Chat Encryption available at the moment

How to view and join channels

Windows | macOS | Linux

Viewing and joining channels through the Contacts tab

  1. You will need to sign in to your Zoom account using the Zoom desktop client.
  2. You can view a list of all the channels you are currently a member of by clicking the Contacts tab, followed by Channels. There will also be an indication on the chat list as to whether a channel is private or public.
  3. Once you click on the plus icon, you will be able to see a list of channels that you can join by clicking Join a Channel.
  4. You can find a channel by entering the channel name in the search bar, then hovering over the channel name will display the following options:
    • Preview: The following page contains information about the channel, including a description of the channel, the members, and the last time the channel was updated (if previous messages were allowed to be viewed by new channel members). To continue joining the channel, click Join Channel. If you wish to exit this preview, click Close.
    • Note: You are able to download this preview if you have version 5.9.0 or higher (except for Linux, where you must have version 5.9.3 or higher), and it is only available to public channels.
    • Join: Upon selecting a channel, you will be able to join it immediately.

Viewing and joining channels through the Chat tab

  1. Using the Zoom desktop client, sign in to your account.
  2. On the Chat tab, you will see a list of each channel you are currently a part of. You will also be able to see a list of group chats, chat folders, and 1:1 conversations.
    You will be able to see the status of a channel under the Chat list, and you will also be able to see the profile picture or initials of the user in 1:1 chats.
  3. You can join a channel by clicking on the down caret next to Chat at the very top of the panel.
  4. When you use the search bar to find a channel, you will see the following options when you hover over the channel name:
    • Preview: If you are new to the channel, you may view more information about it, such as its description, members, and recent messages (if it is possible for new members to view previous messages). If you would like to keep joining the channel, click Join Channel. If you would like to end this preview, click Close.
    • Note: The preview is only available for public channels and requires version 5.9.0 or greater (except for Linux, which requires version 5.9.3 or greater).
    • Join: If you have selected a channel, you will be able to join it immediately.

Starring a channel

The channel can be starred, which will place it under STARRED in your chat panel. This will allow you to quickly view it later in the day when you want to check it out.

  1. Log in to the Zoom desktop client on your computer.
  2. Click on the Chat tab at the top of the screen.
  3. If you would like to star a channel, click on it.
  4. You can do this by clicking on the star icon.
    The Starred section of the chat panel will show you the channels that have been starred.

Creating a new channel

  1. You will need to sign into the Zoom desktop client in order to get started.
  2. Go to the Chat tab and click on it.
  3. On the panel, you will see a down arrow next to the chat box, so click the arrow, and choose Join a Channel from the drop-down menu.
    Note: There is a possibility that your account admin has blocked your group from adding channels if this option is grayed out.
  4. To create a new channel, you will need to enter the following information:
    • Channel Name: It is a good idea to give your channel a display name so that others will be able to identify it easily.
    • Channel Type: Choose the type of channel you would like to create.
      • Public: There is no restriction on who can join your channel within your organization.
      • Private: You can only invite people to join your channel if they have been invited by you.
      • Note: Your account administrator may have restricted your group from creating a certain type of channel if one of these options is grayed out.
    • External users can be added: You can add users who are not members of your organization to the channel if the checkbox is checked.
    • Note: It is highly recommended that you review the channel privileges for external users if you enable this option.
      • By all channel members: Members from both inside and outside your organization have the ability to add members from outside your organization.
      • By members in your organization: The ability to add external members to your organization is available only to members within your organization.
    • Add Members: Click on the name of the person you wish to invite to add them to the list of invitees after you enter a name to search for them to invite.
    • Note: A user will be able to invite themselves individually, or a channel can be selected to invite all members of that channel. To invite all of the members of a channel, you must be a member of that channel. There is no possibility of inviting more than one user at a time for the Linux client.
    • Manage Posting Permissions: This option allows you to choose the members of the channel who will be able to post in the channel.
      • Everyone: It is possible for all members of the channel to post in the channel.
      • Admin only: Posts in the channel can only be made by the admin of the channel.
      • Admin, plus specific people: Admins and specified members are the only ones who have access to the channel and can post in it.
  5. Create a new channel by clicking on the Create Channel button.

Editing a channel’s name and privacy settings

You can customize the name and privacy settings of the channel if you are the admin of the channel.

Note:

As long as you are listed as an admin, you will be able to edit the channel.

  1. Launch the Zoom desktop client and sign in with your Zoom account.
  2. Using the Contacts or Chat tabs, you can access channels in the following ways:
    • The Contacts tab can be accessed by clicking on the tab, then clicking the Channels button to reveal the channels to which you currently belong.
      Click on the Edit button next to the channel you want to edit.
    • In the left-side panel, click on the Chat tab, and select a channel from the list in the left-side panel.
      You can access all the channel options by clicking the info icon, then More Options, and finally Edit Channel.
  3. You can change the following channel settings:
    • Channel Name: In order for others to be able to identify your channel, you need to enter a display name.
    • Channel Type: Choose the type of channel you would like to create.
      • Public: Your organization’s channel can be joined by anyone within your organization.
      • Private: You can only invite people to join your channel if they are invited by you.
    • Privacy: It is possible to change your privacy settings at any time.
      • External users can be added: Channels can be added to by users outside of your organization if the box is checked.
        • By all channel members: The external members of your organization can be added both by internal members and by external members of your organization.
        • By members in your organization: In order to add external members, only members who are internal to your organization will be able to do so.
      • New members can see message history: The chat messages that have been made before a new member joins the group can be seen by them.
  4. Save the changes by clicking the Save Changes button.

Editing a channel’s description and posting permissions

It is necessary to provide a brief description of the channel in order for users to be able to identify it. It is also possible to change the permissions for posting.

Note:

The Windows and macOS clients are the only ones that allow you to change the posting permissions.

  1. Log in to Zoom’s desktop client by clicking on the link below.
  2. Click on the Chat tab at the top of the page.
  3. Select the channel that you would like to customize from the list
  4. The information icon can be found by clicking on it.
  5. The following settings can be customized:
    • Channel Info: You can either edit the description (if there is already an existing description) or add a new description to the channel. Click on Save after you have entered a description. By clicking on the info icon then Channel Info, channel members will be able to access the description of the channel.
    • More options
      • Manage Posting Permissions: Members of the channel can be selected to have access to the channel based on what they are allowed to post.
        • Everyone: Posts can be made in the channel by all channel members.
        • Admin only: Posts in the channel can only be made by the admin of the channel.
        • Admin, plus specific people: Admins and specific members of the group will be the only ones allowed to post in the channel.

Inviting members to a channel

Note: You will only be able to send direct messages to a member who has been invited to a channel if you have their contact information in your contact list.

  1. Open the Zoom desktop client and sign in with your Zoom account.
  2. You will find a Chat tab on the left side of the screen.
  3. To invite members to a channel, click on the channel you wish to invite them to.
  4. You can add members to the group by clicking on the info icon and then clicking on Add members.
  5. To invite users, you need to type the name of the user in the text box, select the users you wish to invite, and click the Add button.

    Notes:

    • A channel can either be selected as a whole to invite all members of it, or you can select an existing channel to invite all members of it individually. In order to invite all of the members of a channel, you must be a member of that channel.
      • There is no possibility to invite multiple users at the same time for the Linux client.
    • It’s possible to add contacts in bulk with version 5.11.0 or higher by copying and pasting email addresses.
    • Depending on the permissions granted by the admin of the channel, you may be able to invite external Zoom users. Before inviting external users to your channel, make sure to take a look at the privileges that these external users have.

Directly messaging channel members

In order to send a direct message to a member you have invited into a channel, you will need to have that member in your contacts directory before you can do so. To add a contact to your account, follow the steps below in order to obtain an email address from a member.

  1. You will need to sign in to the Zoom desktop client.
  2. Click on the Chat tab at the top of the screen.
  3. To invite members to a channel, click on the channel you wish to invite them to.
  4. In the info icon, click on Members, then click on the information icon again.
  5. To add a member as a contact, hover over the member you wish to add.
  6. You can view your profile by clicking the ellipses icon and then clicking View Profile. The email address of the member should be copied.
  7. The process of adding a contact is as simple as following the instructions.

Information regarding external contacts

In chats, users that you add to your contact list who do not have the same account as you will be classified as External users.

If the person is chatting one-on-one with someone, then External will be listed to the left of the person’s name at the top of the chat window, indicating that the person is not online.

External will appear next to the name of any participants who are not members of the account for a group chat if they are not members of the account:

Android | iOS

Viewing and joining channels

  1. Log in to the Zoom mobile app on your mobile device.
  2. You will find the Contacts tab on the left side of the screen.
  3. You will see a list of the channels you are currently a part of when you tap the Channels tab.
  4. Tap the plus icon in the top-right corner of the screen and then select Join a Channel from the drop-down menu.
  5. You can find a channel by using the search bar at the top of the page.
  6. There is more information about each channel available when you tap on it, including the description of the channel, the members, and the recent messages that have been posted (if the previous messages are freely available for new channel members to view).
    Note: It is only available for public channels, and it requires version 5.9.0 or higher in order to run.
  7. In order to join the channel, you will need to tap Join Channel again.

Staring a channel

The channel can be starred, which will place it under STARRED in your chat panel. This will allow you to quickly view it later in the day when you want to check it out.

  1. Log in to the Zoom mobile app on your mobile device.
  2. You will find the Contacts tab on the left side of the screen.
  3. On the Channels tab, you will be able to see a list of the channels that you are currently a member of.
  4. You can star a channel by tapping on it and selecting it from the list.
  5. The channel name can be accessed by tapping the info icon beside it, then clicking the star icon there.
    In your channel list, you will find the starred channel at the top, in the Starred section.

Creating a new channel

  1. Using Zoom’s mobile app, sign in to your account.
  2. Select the Contacts tab on the left side of the screen.
  3. You can see a list of the channels that you are currently a member of by tapping the Channels tab.
  4. In the top-right corner of the screen, tap the plus icon, and then click Create a New Channel from the menu that appears.
    Note: The option to add channels to your group will appear grayed out if your account administrator has disabled the option.
  5. In order to create a new channel, you will need to enter the following information:

    • Channel Name: To help others identify your channel, enter a display name so that they can easily identify it.
    • Make sure that your channel has the following privacy settings:
      • Private: Your channel can only be joined by people who have been invited by you.
      • Public: There is no restriction on who can join your channel within your organization.
    • External users can be added: Ensure that the channel can be accessed by members outside of your organization by allowing them to join.
    • Note: It is important to review the permissions of external users in the channel before enabling this option.
  6. The next step is to click on the Next button.
  7. Select the members that you wish to invite from the text box and then click Ok once you have found the members that you wish to invite.

Editing a channel’s name and privacy settings

You will also be able to change the name of the channel you created, as well as the privacy settings for that channel.

  1. You will need to sign in to the Zoom mobile app in order to use it.
  2. Click the Contacts tab at the top of the screen.
  3. If you tap the Channels tab, you will be able to see a list of all the channels you are a member of at the moment.
  4. You will be able to edit a channel by tapping on it.
  5. In the upper right-hand corner of the screen, you’ll find an info icon.
  6. The following settings can be changed for the channel:
    • Channel Name: To make it easier for others to identify your channel, you can enter a display name.
    • There are a number of privacy settings that can be accessed by tapping More Options, including:
      • External users can be added: If you choose to allow them to do so, you will be able to invite members of your organization outside of your own to join the channel.
      • New members will see previous messages and files: The chat messages made before the new member joins can be viewed by the new member.

Editing a channel’s description

A brief description of the channel is provided in order to facilitate the identification of the channel by users. The description of the channel can also be used to provide more information about the channel

  1. The Zoom mobile app can be accessed by signing in with your Zoom account.
  2. Select the Contacts tab from the menu.
  3. On the Channels tab, you can see a list of all the channels to which you are currently subscribed.
  4. If you want to edit a channel, you must tap it.
  5. On the top-right corner of the screen, you will find an info icon.
  6. You can enter or edit the description of the product by tapping Description.
    The description of a channel can be viewed by channel members by following the steps listed below.

Inviting members to a channel

Note: If a member has been invited to a channel, you will be able to send direct messages to them only if they are listed in your contact list.

  1. The Zoom mobile app can be accessed by signing in with your Zoom account.
  2. Select the Contacts tab from the menu.
  3. You can see a list of all the channels you are currently a member of by tapping the Channels tab.
  4. To invite members to a channel, you need to tap on the channel you wish to invite them to.
  5. In the top-right corner of the screen, you will see an info icon.
  6. Tap on the Add Members button.
  7. You will need to type in the text box the members you want to invite, then select the members you want to invite, and then click the OK button.
    Notes:

    • Individual users can be invited directly, or a particular channel can be selected for all its members to be invited. The only way to invite all of the members of a channel is if you are a member of that channel.
    • Depending on the permissions of the owner of the channel, you may be able to invite external Zoom users. If you want to invite external users to your channel, make sure to review their channel privileges before inviting them.

Directly messaging channel members

In order to send direct messages to a member of a channel, you first need to invite him or her to the channel so that you can include him or her in your contacts list. If you want to add a member as a contact, then you need to follow these steps in order to obtain their email address.

  1. Open the Zoom desktop client and sign in with your Zoom account.
  2. Click on the Contacts tab at the top of the screen.
  3. To view a list of the channels you are currently a member of, click the Channels tab.
  4. Choose a channel from the list by tapping on its name.
  5. At the top of the screen, you will find the channel name.
  6. Tap the Members tab, then tap the name of the member you wish to view.
  7. You will need to copy the email address of the member.
  8. The process of adding a contact is as simple as following the instructions.

Information regarding external contacts

In chats, any users who are added to your contact list, but do not belong to the same account as you, will be labelled as External. This means:

If you click on the contact’s profile information when you are viewing their profile picture, the External label will also appear on the profile picture of the contact:

It is possible to include members who do not belong to the account in a group chat by adding External next to their names: