Whether it’s school, work or a call with friends, it’s always important to be able to keep in touch despite the distance. In fact, by teleworking or simply because of a particular situation that does not allow you to see your loved ones or to reach your school, can it happen that you need “ to be in person ”, and what better way than a video call all together?
One video conferencing it is, in fact, considered a real meeting between people, between the ability to talk to someone in real time and to share files and information it will be just as if you and your friends or colleagues are in the same room. Consider that certain programs are even used in the Public Administration to allow employees to communicate effectively.
I know very well how much distance can be felt and it is precisely for this reason that I am here today to show you some video conferencing programs that you can use, for free, with a little effort and the use of your computer. The applications that I will deal with are in fact usable on multiple platforms, so don’t worry and keep reading: you will surely find the solution that best suits you in the next paragraphs.
Free video conferencing programs
The Internet is teeming with video conferencing programs which allow you to get in touch with loved ones, employers, colleagues and customers anywhere in the world. But which are the best? I try to tell you. Continue reading the next paragraphs and I’m sure that in less than five minutes, you will have found what is right for you.
Zoom ( Windows / macOS / Linux )
Zoom Meetings is a video conferencing platform with a really simple and intuitive interface. It is mainly used in the workplace and in the school environment — in fact it allows you to create rooms in which to share content and talk to users — but is suitable for many purposes, also because it works by simply sharing a link unique invitation to conferences.
I start by explaining how to access it. First, link to the official Zoom and press website on the button Sign up, it’s free ( top right ). Once this is done, indicate yours date of birth. You will then be asked to enter a email address to register: enter yours and then press the button Subscribe.
Then confirm your account from the automatic email that was sent to you by Zoom, fill in the registration form with your personal data and press on the keys Forward is Ignore this step. Alternatively, I would like to point out that you can also authenticate yourself with an account SSO, Google or Facebook.
Once registered, from the Zoom home page you can click on the item Log in. Then enter your access data and press on the button Log in. At the top right, hover over the mouse cursor Host a meeting and choose one of the modes available from video activated, video disabled is screen sharing.
If you are using it Windows, once you have chosen to share the room, a download will start automatically: if not, you can press on the writing Download now ( under the button Start meeting). Then start the .exe file that you have just downloaded, answer yes to the warnings that appear on the screen, wait for the end of the upload and click on the button I accept.
At this point, your Zoom session will start and, depending on the option you have previously chosen for the room, you will have several tools available. For example, I point out the possibility of share or of record the screen.
If you want to invite a user to the session, all you have to do is press the keys Participants is Invite, click on the button Copy invitation link and send the link in question, together with the password that you find on the right, to the people you want to invite to your conference. Of course there are other tools, such as the chat, the possibility of adding some reactions on the screen and of course the buttons for disable is activate microphone and webcam during the call.
If instead you are operating from Mac, download the Zoom client from the official website, pressing on the button Download. So open the .pkg file got and click on the buttons Go on is Install. You will then be asked to enter the Mac administration password: wait for the installation to end and log in to proceed with the video conferences as explained above. More info here.
Skype ( Windows / macOS / Linux )
Skype it is perhaps the most famous tool for making calls and video calls from a PC. At least once in our lives, practically everyone has had the opportunity to see it up close. The well-known Microsoft-owned platform allows you to perform video calls, send photos, documents, audio and even call phone numbers via VoIP ( More info here ). It is also not necessary to download the application, but it is possible to make calls directly from its website. Of this, however, I will speak better later in the tutorial; now let’s focus on the desktop program.
In order to download it, connect to its official website and select the operating system that you are using. In the case of Windows, press the button Save present on the page that opens and executes the .exe file as soon as you get it, a security window will open for user control, then click on the button Yup to authorize the installation. Pajamas, later, on the keys Yup is Install and wait for the installation of the program. If you have any problems, see my guide on how to install Skype.
At the end of the installation, you need to click on the buttons Start is Log in and log in with your Microsoft account: if you don’t have one yet, click on the item Create account, enter your data and, in the first screen that appears, click on the dial with written Upload photos and select a beautiful image that represents you; then press the button Go on three times in a row, click on the button OK and you’re done. More info here.
If instead you are downloading Skype on a Mac, once you have selected your operating system, the download of a .dmg file: run it, double-clicking on it, then drag the ’Skype icon in the folder Applications and then start the program. Then click on the button You open to confirm that I want to start the software despite coming from third parties and complete the configuration in the exact same way I explained it for Windows a few lines above.
Your account is now configured and ready to use: to start a video conference you just have to click on the button Meeting, on the left. So choose if you want to attend a conference already existing or if you want create one. In the first case, choose Plan a meeting and share yours invitation with all the people you want to have in the call; then start it by clicking on the button Start meeting.
There are several tools that you can use on call in progress: you can in fact record the screen, share it, disable and activate microphone and webcam is book your turn ( thanks to the button Raise your hand).
If, on the other hand, you wish to enter an existing room, you will need the unique link that the organizer of the call will have to share with you. Once obtained, click on the items Meeting > Join the meeting and enter the link in question.
Discord ( Windows / macOS / Linux )
Discord it is a platform used mainly for calls and content sharing, through the creation of private servers to which all the people you want are invited. Discord is widespread especially among gamers, but its characteristics make it suitable for any type of environment, given its vast potential.
In order to download it, you must go to the Discord website. Like Skype, Discord also allows you to access your online features, in fact through a browser you can access your account and use the same functions that would occur with the installation of the program.
That said, if you are operating from a Windows PC, pressing on the buttons Download for Windows is Save, then run the .exe file obtained and wait for the application to be installed ( respond in the affirmative to the warnings that appear on the screen ).
If the operating system you are using is macOS, instead, proceed by clicking on the button Download for Mac and have patience for a few moments to end the download. Once the download is complete, run the .dmg file obtained, move the ’Discord icon in the folder Applications and run the program: you will be asked whether to open the file despite being a third party application: press the button To open ( this operation is necessary only on the first start and serves to bypass the macOS restrictions on applications from non-certified developers ).
You can then log in if you already have an account, alternatively you can click on the writing Register, at the bottom, set yours access data and select the button Go on. You will then be sent one confirmation email: open it, click on the verification link present inside and you will be able to access the software.
At first glance, the Discord interface may seem difficult to understand but, don’t worry, it is actually much simpler than it seems. The easiest and fastest way you have to make a video conference is to add your friends and then call them: to do this, you just have to select the icon with the ’Discord image, top left, and go and select the option Add Friend on the next screen.
Then enter the username of a friend, followed by the respective code ( each Discord user has a name and a hashtag, in this way Name # 1234); click on the icon of comic with a + located at the top right, select the items you want to add and create the group. Now you just have to click on the ’camera image, at the top, and start the call. Very simple, isn’t it?
This application is extremely configurable: it is possible in fact silencing people, individually lower the volume of each member of the call, manage the various permissions and even create servers to group all your friends or colleagues. If you are interested in learning more, feel free to consult my article on how to create a Discord server.
Free online video conferencing programs
If you don’t have the time or resources to download a video conferencing program to your computer, perhaps the solution that best suits your needs is to use a online service, quick and light, operating directly from the browser. I have selected a list of solutions that could help you: continue reading and in a few minutes you will be on call with your colleagues.
Google Meet is the well-known Google video conferencing platform. It provides a user-friendly environment and does not require any particular configuration: all you need to use it are a Google account and a couple of minutes of your time.
Let’s start now: go to the official Meet website from a compatible browser ( I suggest Chrome ) and, if you are already logged in to your Google account, you only have to enter the code which was given to you by the organizer of the video conference and click on the writing Participate.
Alternatively, if you want to host the call, press on the buttons New meeting, Start a meeting now is Participate. Once entered the call, you can share your code thanks to the link that can be obtained by pressing the button Meeting details ( bottom left ).
The beauty of Google Meet is that, being synchronized with your Google account, it allows you to access contacts much faster and promotes teamwork. It allows you, in fact, to select the contacts you want to add to the call directly from your box Gmail, it is also optimized for sharing documents on Google Drive, thus ensuring instant sharing of any content you are trying to expose.
The basic features, such as microphone activation and deactivation, multimedia sharing and screen sharing, are present; in addition, Google Meet allows you to draw in real time on a digital board, activate autogenerated subtitles is set backgrounds in the video call. More info here.
As I anticipated earlier, too Skype allows you to make video conferences online, without the need to download specific applications. By going to the official Skype website with one of the supported browsers ( es. Chrome or Edge ), indicates the name that you want to give to your meeting and then press on the button Create a free meeting.
Share now the invitation link on the screen and, once ready, click on the buttons Start call is Join as a guest; then choose your temporary name and continue by clicking on Participate. Now you just have to start your meeting, with the button Start meeting, and you’re done.
Skype Online provides the same features as in the video calls on the application, in fact you can record and share the screen, book your turn, change the video and audio settings and add reactions. I recommend this platform in case you need to make a video call quickly and without having to worry about accessing or downloading additional software. More info here.
One of the best applications for online video calls is definitely Google Duo, which is accessible directly from the Google Chrome browser, through the official website, and from apps for Android and iOS / iPadOS devices.
To use it on a PC, reach its main page from Chrome and, if necessary, log in to your Google account. So you can finally start calling whoever you want: press on the button Create group link and share the invitation code; or, if you prefer, add the participants directly from your contacts.
Once you have prepared the room, proceed by starting the call with the appropriate button: Start call. The positive note from Google Duo is that it can start a call really quickly, I highly recommend it if you don’t have much time and want to use a fast but efficient solution. More info here.
Other group video conferencing programs
If the programs I have previously reported to you do not suit you, I still have some very valid alternatives, which can also be used on mobile, which you may consider.
- Messenger — is Facebook’s messaging, call and video call platform, accessible by anyone with an account on the famous social network. In case you don’t have an account yet, I recommend reading my guide on how to create a Facebook profile; it will take you a couple of minutes. The service is available in a web version and as an application for Android, iOS / iPadOS and Windows / macOS. Once logged into your computer profile, you will need to go to the top of the screen and click on the icon of the comic with the lightning, then the list of your chats and contacts will open. Among the first icons there is that of one video camera with a + and select it to start a call with the desired contacts. More info here.
- WhatsApp — you must know that WhatsApp, the famous messaging system that you probably use every day on your smartphone, also provides the possibility of making calls between multiple users. In fact, you can select a group of people and call them simultaneously, or alternatively add the elements individually to the call. However, this function is only available in the mobile version of the platform; WhatsApp Web and the WhatsApp client for Windows / macOS do not support calls, but theoretically you could bypass the problem with an Android emulator for PC. More info here.
For other solutions for making group video calls, I leave you with my guide dedicated to the topic.