5 Zoom Apps to Make Video Calls Better and More Productive

Even on a basic free Zoom account, you can do a lot more than just video calls. These free apps and tools will level-up your Zoom calls on desktop computers.

The Covid-19 pandemic necessitated that everyone in the world get familiar with a new software: Zoom. Zoom calls are a regular part of professional and personal life now, so it's time to learn how to make them better. There are free apps to eliminate background noises, record and transcribe videos, and anonymously chat with other participants in a meeting. All of them will only make Zoom better.

1. Grain (Windows, macOS): Record and Transcribe Zoom Calls for Free

You can record any Zoom video call for free as long as you are a registered Zoom user, and download it in a limited few days. Grain takes it one step further by saving up to 100 recorded Zoom video calls, and will transcribe some for free too.

It's a fascinating app that requires very little technical know-how. Install Grain on your Windows or Mac computer, run it, and go to your Zoom meeting. Click the "Record" button in Zoom, and Grain will automatically take the full video when the call finishes.

After it has the video, Grain will transcribe the whole thing. It's a better transcription software than most others. In the transcription, click or highlight any text to get a video clip of that part. Then, you can share that highlighted clip with colleagues or friends.

The desktop app also has a Live Notes widget-like app to run alongside your Zoom meeting. At any point, write notes for yourself, or add emojis that serve as reminders.

Grain offers 15 free transcribing sessions in the free version and 100 recordings. Of course, there's a paid option to upgrade to unlimited transcribed videos. To download Grain, you'll first need to register for an account and connect it to your Zoom profile, after which you will get the download links for the Windows and macOS apps.

2. Krisp (Windows, macOS): Eliminate Background Noise, Yours or Caller's

The hum of an air conditioner. The background noise in a cafe. An interruption by household activities. Echoing audio and background noises are some of the most common Zoom call issues. And it might not even be you, the issue might be at the end of the person you're calling. Krisp is here to fix all of that.

Install the app and start it at any point of a call. You don't need to switch if on beforehand. You'll see two options where Krisp can activate its AI magic: Speaker and Microphone. Next to each, you'll see which apps are using it at the moment. Make sure you pick the correct device, then toggle the "Remove Noise" button.

Krisp focuses only on the human voice and removes every other sound. Sometimes, it can be a little too aggressive and miss things like clapping, but you'll overlook that when you see its impact otherwise.

In the free version of the app, you can activate Krisp for up to 120 minutes per week each on the microphone and the speaker. But for every friend you refer who signs up for Krisp, you get two months of Krisp Pro, which has unlimited minutes. It's a pretty sweet deal and once you will be able to convince others to go for once they see you using Krisp in action.

3. Zoomchat (Web): Private, Anonymous Chat for Any Zoom Meeting

Zoom has a built-in chat to talk to other attendees through text. But what if you want to talk with others behind the organizer's or teacher's back? That's what Zoomchat is for.

You can instantly create a new chatroom by putting in your Zoom Meeting ID. If someone has already created it, you'll simply join that room. The chatroom is private, and you're asked to pick a temporary name, with which you can protect your identity. Now anyone in the Zoom meeting can talk in Zoomchat without fear of the organizer finding out.

It's a better way to chat with your friends during a lecture, while also getting other attendees involved. Every time you enter a meeting, it might be a good idea to check for its ID on Zoomchat to see if others have joined in order to talk.

4. Zoom Background & Zoom Exotic (Web): Free Photo and Video Backgrounds for Zoom

Virtual backgrounds are just one of the many fun things you can do in Zoom. This feature lets you add any image or video as your background so that people aren't looking at the mess behind you or the comings-and-goings of others.

Zoom Background is a collection of over 1,000 free images to use as virtual backgrounds. They are spread across categories like space, funny, home, nature, movies and TV, cafe, office, co-working, sky, and meme. Click a picture to see it full-size, then save it to your hard drive, and use it in the next Zoom meeting.

Zoom Exotic hosts videos instead of pictures, which is sometimes a better option for the viewer. You can use calming effects like nature shots or add some humor with funny video backgrounds. Once you get adept at changing them quickly, you can use them to make a funny point; it's a bit like using GIFs in a text chat.

Pro Tip: If you're using a virtual background, make sure you're wearing a dark-color shirt or top. The way virtual backgrounds work in Zoom, you might disappear into the background otherwise.

5. Zoom Bookmarks (Chrome): Save Zoom Meetings and Passwords for Future

Zoom Bookmarks solves a small but crucial problem and does it smartly. With your whole day occupied with different Zoom meetings now, how do you track all those links and passwords? Zoom Bookmarks is a simple manager for just that.

When you get a new Zoom meeting link, simply add it to Zoom Bookmarks. If it's a password-protected link, you can put in the Zoom ID and password too. Each entry can be given a custom title so you know what it's about. It's a remarkably simple way to manage links for a day of lectures on Zoom, or different meetings with clients.

This Chrome extension is also privacy-friendly, as it doesn't seek to read any data from your browser cache or cookies. It does its job quietly, without fuss.

Download: Zoom Bookmarks for Chrome (Free)

Invest in Learning Zoom

Third-party apps like Grain and Krisp are excellent tools to get more out of Zoom. But in the end, they are additional features. For example, many people don't know that Zoom has its own audio technology to improve voice quality, both as a speaker and as a listener. But it's hidden deep in the settings and not as good as Krisp, which is why we recommend Krisp.

That said, given how much work, school, and personal life is reliant on Zoom, it makes sense to start learning it well. Your proficiency in Microsoft Excel is a line on your CV, so why shouldn't Zoom expertise be a similar skill? It's only going to make you a better communicator.