PSA: Zoom Now Lets the Host Limit Who Can See Participants' Videos

The new 'Focus Mode' feature is meant to help minimize students' distractions.
by Bianca Custodio   |  Aug 13, 2021
Image: Shutterstock
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We are now (sadly) in our second year of remote learning, and many if not all of us are still trying to adjust to the nuances and challenges that the online classroom brings. Luckily, several audio and video calling apps are continuously working on adding new features that aim to make the online setup more convenient and comfortable for all of us. 

With this new era of online learning in mind, Zoom launches Focus Mode, a feature that gives hosts and co-hosts the ability to control whose videos participants are able to see during a meeting. When Focus Mode is enabled, participants will no longer be able to see anyone else’s videos apart from that of the hosts, co-hosts, any other spotlighted individual, and their own (Does this mean no more laughing at our besties' faces during class? Aw, man!).

But don’t worry, participants will still be able to see other participants’ names, chats, and reactions, and hear each other when unmuted. Hosts, on the other hand, will be able to view all participants and can easily share any of their opened cams or shared screens to the whole meeting when needed.


According to Zoom, this feature was added in order to encourage students specifically to stay attentive or work on their tasks without being distracted by the live videos of their peers. While there are many different layers to why students may end up distracted during their online classes, this new Focus Mode may still be able to help instructors who struggle with capturing their students’ attention during lectures. This feature may also minimize any anxiety or self-consciousness that students may feel when they are required to open their cameras. 

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A meeting on Focus Mode will generally mimic the speaker-concentrated atmosphere of a webinar, which may be ineffective for certain portions of classes or any other meetings wherein participants are expected to engage in interactive discussions. Nonetheless, this new Zoom feature is definitely a step towards making online meetings and classrooms more malleable to different modes of work and learning setups. 


How to use Focus Mode on Zoom

This feature is completely free and available to users with the Zoom desktop client version 5.7.3 or higher on either Windows or Mac. To activate this new feature for your account, you only need to:

  1. Sign in to the Zoom web portal
  2. Click on your profile and go to Settings. 
  3. Click the Meeting tab. 
  4. Under In Meeting (Advanced), click the Focus Mode toggle to enable or disable it. 
  5. Verify the change by clicking Enable or Disable.

Focus Mode may be enabled at any point of a Zoom meeting through the “More” button on the meeting toolbar.


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Bianca Custodio
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