How to use annotation tools for collaboration in Zoom

This post was most recently updated on July 29th, 2022

It is important to note that Zoom’s video conferencing product allows users to add annotations on their screens during video callings – a tool that will help team members collaborate and brainstorm more effectively. An annotation can be added to a screen sharing meeting while the meeting participant is viewing their screen or as the person starting the screen sharing session. In addition, annotations can also be added to whiteboard sessions when sharing or viewing the whiteboard.

Prerequisites for screen annotation tools in virtual meetings

  • The annotation feature is enabled
  • when using the Zoom desktop client on Windows, macOS, and Linux
  • when using the Zoom mobile app for Android or iOS

Note:Attendee annotation can be disabled by the meeting host. Make sure that the host has not disabled annotation in your case if you do not have the annotation option.

How to use annotation tools for collaboration and brainstorming

Windows | macOS | Linux

How to annotate if you are screen sharing

You will be able to add annotations to your shared screen or whiteboard after sharing. If the annotation tools are not available, just click Annotate (in the event that you are sharing your screen) or Whiteboard (if you are sharing a whiteboard).

How to annotate if you are viewing shared content

The top-right corner of your screen or whiteboard will appear with the option Annotate when you are viewing a shared screen.

Available annotation tools

The following annotation tools will be available to you:

Note: It is only available if you start the shared screen or whiteboard before selecting, spotlighting, and saving options.

  • Mouse: If you would like to switch to your mouse pointer, you should deactivate the annotation tools. The annotation tools will appear in blue if they are turned off.
  • Select Annotations can be selected, moved, or resized (this will only appear if the shared screen or whiteboard was started). Using the mouse, you will see a selection area, which you can click on to display several annotations at once.
  • Text:Enter the text here..
  • Draw:Using lines, shapes, and arrows, draw the images.
  • Note: It is possible to insert a semitransparent square or circle in any area of the shared screen or whiteboard by selecting the following square or circle icon.           
  • Stamp: Stamp this icon into any common area on your screen.
  • Spotlight / Arrow / Vanishing Pen:Using the tab key, you can change your cursor into a spotlight, arrow, or disappearing pen.
    • Spotlight You can also use this device if you started sharing the screen/whiteboard with all participants. It makes sure all participants see your mouse pointer when you are in the shared area. You can use this to show the other participants what’s happening on the screen.
    • Arrow: Instead of a mouse pointer, this feature displays a small arrow. The arrow displays your name when it is clicked on. The arrow displayed by your previous click will be removed by each successive click. You can use this function to draw the attention of other participants to your annotations.
      • Vanishing Pen A quick annotation tool (available only if you have started a whiteboard or shared screen) will enable the presenter to add notes to the whiteboard without having to erase or undo their last addition because the annotation will disappear within a few seconds.
  • Eraser: By clicking and dragging with your mouse, you can select parts of your annotation that you would like to erase.
  • Format: Annotations tools can be formatted with options like color, line width, and font to match the needs of various users.
  • Undo: Remove your most recent annotation.
  • Redo: If you undid the most recent annotation, redo it.
  • Clear: Delete the entire annotation.
  • Save: As a PNG or PDF file, save a screenshot of the whiteboard / shared screen as well as the annotations. Those files will be stored locally at the location specified.
  • Note: Normally, viewers are only able to save the video if they are allowed to do so by the host.
  • Please click the downward arrow next to Save and choose one of the following formats if you would like to change the file format:
      • PNG: Select PNG as the file format. Zoom will save a PNG file for each whiteboard that is on a machine with more than one whiteboard.
      • PDF: The PDF file is saved. Zoom will save a single PDF file containing the content of all the whiteboards if there are more than one whiteboard.

Annotation settings

when shared screen or whiteboard started by you ,then click More  in the screen share controls for these annotation settings:

  • Enable/Disable Annotation for Others: This allows you to control whether the participants have access to annotate the screen you share.
  • Show/Hide Names of Annotators: When annotating, it is possible to reveal or hide the names of participants. Whenever the participant’s name is set to display, the name will appear beside their annotation for a brief period of  time.

Annotation shortcuts

For Windows:

  • Undo: Ctrl + Z
  • Redo: Ctrl + Y
  • Mouse mode: Right-click anywhere

For Mac:

  • Undo: Command + Z
  • Redo: Command + Shift + Z
  • Mouse mode: Right-click anywhere

For Linux:

  • Mouse mode: Right-click anywhere

Android

Annotation tools for shared screen or whiteboard

  1. sharing. Click here to get started.
  2. If your screen appears with a pencil icon, click that.
    An annotation tool will then be available to you.
  3. You can close the annotation tool by tapping the pencil icon once more.

If you are using a smartphone or tablet, then you will have access to the following annotation tools.

  • Annotation icon : Annotation tools can be displayed or hidden.
  • Pen / Highlighter: Simply tap on these tools to switch between them.
    • Pen: You can draw with a pen by tapping and dragging to the color you want.
    • Highlighter: With this tool, you can highlight specific parts of the screen using the color you select.
  • Arrow:Simply tap and drag the arrow in the color of your choice to create an arrow.
  • Shape Select one of the following shapes on the tablet (available only on the tablet).
    • Line: Drag the line to choose a color and then tap and draw it.
    • Rectangle: Drag a rectangle to select the color and then tap and draw it.
    • Oval: The selected color is selected by tapping and dragging an oval shape.
  • Text (Tablet only): The selected color appears as text when you type at the shared screen.
  • Color: Annotates can be changed to a different color and size by changing the color and line width settings.
  • Erase: If you want to remove your annotation, tap on it.
  • Undo (Tablet only): Undo the most recent change.
  • Redo (Tablet only):You will be able to add the annotations you previously deleted.
  • Clear (Tablet only):This will allow you to erase all annotations.
  • Save: Whenever an annotation is made on a shared screen, the current shared screen or whiteboard will be saved.

Annotation tools for just whiteboard

The following annotation tools will appear on a shared whiteboard when you start sharing it:

  • Close icon X:You can now hide the annotation tools. If you want the annotation tools to be displayed again, tap the annotate icon.
  • Undo icon: Undo the last change you made.
  • Redo icon:You can go back to the annotations you removed, and make them appear again.
  • Pen icon: You can draw with this icon.
  • Eraser icon: Tap on the annotation and it will be removed.
  • Shape icon: You can draw a line, rectangle, or oval using the selected colour by tapping and dragging.
  • Color icon: Annotations can be changed to any color you like.
  • Text icon (Tablet only):Simply tap on the whiteboard to add text. When you tap on the system back icon, you will be able to see multiple options such as bolding, italicizing, adjusting font size, and changing the color of the text. It is possible to finish this text box by tapping any other area of the whiteboard.
  • Line width icon: this icon allows you to adjust the line width for any line and shape on the whiteboard.
  • Highlighter icon (Tablet only): The highlighter icon will allow you to draw in the color of your choice on any part of the screen.
  • Spotlight icon:Will display a red dot at all times in the shared window. The red dot will be used to indicate which part of the screen belongs to the other participants. In order to use this tool, users must first share their whiteboard or screen.
  • Trash bin icon:Annotations can be removed with this tool.
  • More icon :The following options will be displayed.
    • Smart Recognition: Simply tap the switch next to the smart recognition drawing feature to enable or disable it. In case Zoom is enabled, your lines will automatically smooth out and your drawing will be converted into shapes as soon as you draw them.
    • Save to Album: When you have finished drawing, save your whiteboard image to your device.
    • New Whiteboard  (On a tablet in landscape mode, the following information will display on the main toolbar): This will add a new page to your whiteboard. The pages icon on the Whiteboard or the View all Whiteboards icon on the menu bar allows you to view and delete your added pages. Depending on your session and your configuration, you may use up to 12 boards.

Annotation settings

As a facilitator, you can decide whether you want participants’ names displayed next to their annotations and whether you want them to be able to annotate on the shared screen.

  1. You can hide the annotation tools by tapping the pencil icon.
  2. This can be done by tapping More  in the host controls.
  3. Under the Content Share section of Meeting Settings, you will find these annotation settings:
    • Annotate: Whether participants are allowed to annotate your shared screen or not.
    • Show Names of Annotators: When participants are annotating on a screen share, they have the choice of showing or hiding their names. The name will be displayed beside the participant’s annotation if they have selected to view it.

iOS

Annotation tools for shared screen or whiteboard

Note:When using an iOS device to share your entire screen into the meeting, you will not be able to add annotations. You can only add annotations to a portion of your screen that is shared with others.

  1. You can share your screen now.
  2. Just tap the pencil icon and you will be taken to sharing.
    Annotations will now be accessible to you.
  3. To close the annotation tools, tap the pencil icon once again.

You can either use the annotation tools available on an iPad or an iPhone, depending on which platform you are using.

  • Annotate icon: The annotation tools can be viewed or hidden.
  • Spotlight: Place a red circle in the center of the screen whenever a shared image is being discussed. You can use this to indicate to other participants where parts of the screen should be pointed to.
  • Pen/Highlighter: With the pen you can draw images on the screen or highlight certain portions.
  • Arrow (iPad only): The arrow can be drawn by simply tapping and dragging.
  • Shape (iPad only): You can choose from the following shapes by tapping and holding:
    • Line: The line is drawn by tapping and dragging.
    • Rectangle: The rectangle is drawn by tapping and dragging.
    • Oval: The oval is drawn by tapping and dragging.
  • Text (iPad only): Enter the text you want to share on the shared screen.
  • Color: Select the color of your annotations as well as the line width.
  • Eraser: You can use the eraser at the bottom of the screen to remove annotations.
  • Undo (iPad only): Undo the last change you made.
  • Redo (iPad only):You can reapply the annotations which previously disappeared.
  • Clear (iPad only):Remove your annotations from the screen.
  • Save: On your smartphone, take a picture of the shared screen.

Annotation tools for just whiteboard

You will be able to use the following annotation tools once you start sharing your whiteboard:

Tablet

Phone

  • Close icon: Activate this tool to hide it. By tapping the blue pencil icon, you are able to return to the annotation tools.
  • Undo icon: You can undo the last change you made.
  • Redo icon: You can re-add any annotations you removed previously.
  • Pen icon: Use the pen to draw.
  • Eraser icon: By tapping the annotation, you will be able to remove it.
  • Shape icon: Draw a line, rectangle, or oval by tapping and dragging it in the color you want.
  • Color icon:Changing the annotation’s color and line width is easy with this icon.
  • Spotlight icon (tap the arrow to display this tool on tablet): Whenever there is a shared screen, a red dot will appear on the screen. The purpose of this is to direct participants to certain parts of the screen.
  • Trash bin icon:Provides the option of removing annotations from the screen.
  • More icon  : Displays additional options for the user to choose from.
    • Smart Recognition: By selecting this button, the user can either enable smart recognition drawing or disable it. When Zoom is enabled, the line will be automatically smoothed out and the drawing will be automatically converted to a shape after drawing.
    • Save to Album:  After drawing on the whiteboard, save the image to your device.
    • New Whiteboard (If you are using a tablet in landscape mode, the following information will appear on the main toolbar): Click on the “New Whiteboard Page” button. You can view and delete pages after you add a page by tapping View all Whiteboards or View All Pages on the page you just added.

Annotation settings

Participants on your shared screen can choose whether they want to be able to annotate and whether they want to see their names next to their annotations.

  1. You can hide annotation tools by tapping the pencil icon.
  2. From the host control bar, select More.
  3. In the Meeting Settings section under Content Share, you will find the following annotation options:
    • Annotate:
    •  You can decide whether you want participants to be able to annotate on your shared screen.
    • Show Names of Annotators:
    •  You can choose to display or hide the names of the participants on a screen share when they are annotating. Upon setting the show option, you will be able to see the participant’s name beside the annotation if it is set to display.