Some people have requested a guide on how to use Jitsi. Many others have asked questions that came up only because they were not really familiar with how to use Jitsi. This guide is meant to help in both instances.
It’s very hard to compress all the functionality of Jitsi in a short guide, so this might be a bit longer than a few lines and even then, it won’t cover every single thing. But hopefully, it gives enough information to help those who may find themselves needing help.
Hosting a Jitsi Video Conference
Starting a meeting on Jitsi is as simple as going to https://meet.jit.si. on your browser, typing in your preferred meeting name and clicking “Start meeting”. Yes, it’s really that easy!
Note that when you get to the Jitsi page, you will see random texts scrolling in the text box where you can enter a meeting name. The box generates random names to use for your meeting as a security feature. Because the words are random, it’s harder for people to guess your meeting name. This is important because Jitsi does not require anyone to create an account to host a meeting. This decision to grant users the utmost privacy however means that anyone can create a meeting at anytime with any meeting name they choose. So to avoid having random people dropping into your Jitsi meeting unintentionally, Jitsi auto-suggests a random meeting name you can use.
You can of course choose your own meeting name. Make sure it’s unique enough so it’s not easily guessed. If you type in a common meeting name, Jitsi will warn you that’s it’s not a good idea. You can still choose to use the name, but you understand you’re doing so at a risk.
You can type in a sentence as your meeting name. Jitsi is cool with that. It will take the sentence and perform the ‘magic’ of removing the spaces between the words to create one long word that it then uses as your meeting name. Note also that Jitsi does not use special characters in the meeting name, but it will not stop you from using them. It will just disregard them when it creates the name.
Once you’ve chosen a meeting name, just click You will be taken to a pre-meeting screen.
On this screen, you can choose to enter your name (or not) and select your preferred microphone and camera (if there are multiple devices on your system). Jitsi will let you know if the microphone you’ve selected is working properly. You can also choose not to show this screen again and Jitsi will remember this decision for the next time you start/join a meeting from that browser on your system. Note that this information is stored in your browser cache (it is not sent to Jitsi servers). If you clear your browser cache, it will not be remembered.
You can also choose to join the meeting without audio by clicking on the dropdown arrow in the “Join meeting” button
Once you click “Join meeting”, you are taken to your Jitsi meeting. Boom, that’s it! You’re now the proud host of a Jitsi meeting!
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!! (You can pause here and do a Jitsi dance )
Inviting Participants to a Jitsi Meeting
Now you’re in your meeting, this is where the real fun begins! Of course, a meeting is not a meeting if you don’t have other people joining you, so you want to In fact, Jitsi is so eager to encourage you to get other people to join you that it alerts you that “You are the only one in the meeting”. Now who wants to have a meeting alone with themselves? Not you. So, Jitsi provides an easy way for you to get others to step up to your level of coolness by inviting them to your meeting. When you click on that button or use the small icon on the lower right corner Jitsi pops up a box that lets you easily invite others to your meeting.
From here, you can simply copy the link and send it to them via any preferred means or click on the arrow next to “Share meeting invitation” to reveal direct links to some of your most popular email clients. Clicking on any of them will compose an email with information about your meeting (once you log in). You just enter the recipient email address(es) in your email client and send!
Did you notice that Jitsi also provides you a Dial-in number for your meeting? Wow, how cool is that? And to get even more numbers, just click on… oh you guessed already (you smarty pants, you! ) - the “More numbers” link! This opens another browser page with a list of available conference numbers. Your meeting participants can connect to your meeting using any of those numbers (and your assigned pin).
Okay, let’s look at some of the cool stuff you can do while in your meeting. If you hover your mouse over the Jitsi meeting screen, you will see some icons pop up on the lower portion of your meeting screen:
Let’s look at what these icons do:
Selecting a device - Microphone or Camera
If you didn’t already select your preferred communications device before you entered the meeting room, you can still do so while in the meeting. Clicking the down arrow next to the mute button (or camera button) will reveal a list of available devices on your system that you can select to use in your meeting. Of course, this will depend on what devices you have on your specific system so the list will differ from one system to another.
Securing a Jitsi Meeting
Jitsi is very, VERY particular about security and privacy. This is why Jitsi does not collect information about meeting hosts or participants. As mentioned earlier, the first line of security on https://meet.jit.si is your chosen meeting name. Make sure it’s unique so no one can guess the name and attempt to interrupt your meeting.
Additionally though, Jitsi provides an exemplary suite of security options that will help you to secure your meeting from unwanted intruders. This includes a Lobby feature, password protection and the ability to enable end-to-end encryption (still in its experimental stages). All these options are accessed through the Security Shield.
The security shield gives you access to additional security tools in Jitsi. You can tell the security state of the meeting by looking at the color of the shield:
Meeting has not been secured with additional security options
Meeting has been secured with additional security options
Clicking on the security shield will bring up a pop-up menu of Security options
Once enabled, this provides an additional gateway check to participants trying to join a meeting. When lobby is enabled, a participant would have to request to be allowed into the meeting. That join-request shows up in the meeting and the host can then choose to allow or disallow the participant from joining.
Meetings on Jitsi can be password-protected. Click on to activate the next box to the left and type in your preferred password.
Jitsi provides the ability to encrypt your call end-to-end. This is an exceptional layer of security that shows Jitsi’s unyielding commitment to giving you - the user - power over your privacy. With end-to-end encryption, no one - not even Jitsi staff - can snoop on your meeting. Your meeting is completely protected EVEN from Jitsi servers!
shows up on the top-right corner of the screen when end-to-end encryption is enabled.
Note that with a two-participant call, your call is encrypted by default, so you don’t even need to turn on end-to-end encryption.
Additional Resources and Settings
The “More actions” button grants access to additional settings and resources. Most of these are self-explanatory:
If you chose a name before entering the meeting room, the name will be displayed at the top of the menu list that pops up when you click on the “More actions” button. From here, you can Manage video quality, view your meeting in fullscreen mode (taking up the entire display space on your monitor or viewing device), Start a live stream (to any RTMP server), start recoding, Share a YouTube video in the meeting, blur your background (still in beta phase), mute everyone in the meeting, check speaker statistics (shows how long each participant has been speaking), get a code to embed the meeting on your website, leave feedback, view shortcuts and access the community-supported help forum through the “Help” link.
Manage Video Quality
You can set your preferred video viewing resolution to adjust to the strength of your internet service. This grants you granular control over how smooth your video conferencing experience can be, especially if you find your connection struggling. It is also very useful if you need to save data (for instance, when connecting through mobile data). You can view in High, Standard and Low definition or even just audio-only mode if your bandwidth is really, really low, by choosing the “Low bandwidth” option.
The ‘Settings’ menu option brings up a pop-up menu that allows you to configure your meeting experience further. This pop up menu has four tabs:
From the “Devices” tab, you can select the camera, microphone or speaker (audio) device you want to use in the meeting. The preview of the camera will be displayed (camera is blocked in this guide for privacy reasons. Hey, it’s Jitsi, remember? PRIVACY! ). You can also “Play a test sound” to confirm your audio output device is working appropriately. And you can test your microphone by speaking after selecting your preferred device. A volume indicator under the camera preview area will confirm the mic is working and how well it is detecting sound.
In the “Profile” tab, you can set (or change) your display name and additionally enter an email address, if you choose.
Jitsi allows you to connect your calendar (Google or Outlook) so you can easily create and access meeting links from Jitsi. Once connected, your Calendar will also show up on the Home page when next you visit Jitsi (again, this information is stored in your browser cache, not on Jitsi servers).
Clicking on either the Google button or Microsoft button will launch a small login window for you to sign in and connect your calendar. You can always disconnect your calendar at any time once connected.
Under the “More” tab, you can choose to enable the pre-meeting screen, compel all participants joining the meeting to start muted (no sound), hidden (no video) and to follow you (their view will mimic whatever view you select - between speaker view and tile view). You can also change the default language from this tab.
Jitsi provides two main views - Speaker view and Tile View. You can switch between views by clicking on This icon shows up once there are at least 2 people in a meeting room.
This is the default view for meetings with 2 participants (screens). In Speaker (or Stage) view, you have one large video of the speaker occupying most of the screen and then you have small thumbnails of meeting participants showing up on the right side as a filmstrip. You can hide the filmstrip (thumbnails of other participants) by clicking on the right arrow on the lower-right corner of the meeting screen.
This is the default view for meetings with three or more participants. In this view, participants are arranged in grid form with several tiles spanning the display screen. Tile sizes and arrangement depend on the number of participants in the meeting. Jitsi automatically adjusts and arranges the participants’ tiles.
Jitsi offers some activity indicators that visually display a participant’s activity.
The focus indicator is a blue border around the tile of the participant that is currently speaking, in tile view. This helps to identify who is speaking in a meeting. In Speaker view, Jitsi automatically switches focus between participants, depending on who is speaking at the moment. This is another reason why the view is called ‘Stage View’, representing that the participant is the one ‘on stage’.
Jitsi provides an audio meter on each participant’s feed that allows you to see how loud the sound coming from their system is (usually, how loud they are speaking). The fewer the dots, the lower their volume.
The connection indicator shows connection stats for each participant. The icon switches between green (good connection), yellow (fair connection), red (bad connection) and grey (no connection). It’s indicative of the strength of the internet connection on the participant’s side. This a great way to assess if a participant is having problems with their internet connectivity and to recommend switching to a lower viewing resolution for a better meeting experience.
The connection indicator provides a bevy of technical information that can be used to gauge the health of the connection of the participant.
Note that it takes a little while for the information to be populated.
Once in a meeting, you can kick out a participant, mute everyone else but that participant, send them a private message (in chat) and even adjust their audio volume.
Recording a Meeting
Jitsi allows you to record your meetings for free. To record your meeting on meet.jit.si, you need a Dropbox account (you can get one for free with 2GB of recording space). Jitsi will prompt you to log into your Dropbox account to connect it when you click “Start recording” in the “More actions” menu. Your recording (mp4 file) is automatically sent to your Dropbox once your meeting ends.
Currently, there is an automatic limit of 60 minutes set on recordings. This restriction was recently implemented to help conserve resources and make recording more available on the public servers. You can start the timer over by clicking the recording menu item again after the initial 60 minutes runs out.
- The public instance of Jitsi at https://meet.jit.si is built as a full-featured demo site allowing anyone to use all the features available on Jitsi through the site. Hence, all users on the site have moderator-level access. What this means for you as a meeting host is that your options in controlling access to certain features in the meeting are limited. For better control of your Jitsi meeting, you’d need to host your own Jitsi server. If it’s not your area of expertise or you don’t want to deal with the hassle of hosting and maintaining a server, you should look into subscribing to an 8x8 plan. Their plans grant you the granular control that you’d get by hosting your own server, without the attendant headaches. And they’re currently running a promo at an incredible price of 99 cents/month! How amazing is that?!?? No, I have no relationship whatsoever with the company, I’m not employed by them, nor do I benefit in any way from anyone subscribing. I’m just a great bargain-hunter and I know an incredible deal when I see one!
- You can host a meeting at anytime on Jitsi for free. Your meetings can have up to 70 people, but it’s strongly recommended that you keep the maximum number of participants in your meeting under 30. Above that number, expect some performance degradation. With an audio-only meeting though, 70 participants should be fine.
- There is no restriction on how long your meeting can last on Jitsi or how many meetings you can host.
- Make sure you have sufficient storage space on Dropbox to ensure your recording gets saved appropriately.
- The bandwidths of participants in a meeting can affect the general experience of the meeting for everyone. Remember this before concluding there’s a problem with Jitsi.