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Focus Mode Now Enabled in Zoom

By Laura Fragomeni, 19 August 2021

Recently, Zoom released a new in-meeting feature designed with the digital learning environment in mind, allowing students to stay attentive or work on their tasks while under supervision, without being distracted by others and their tasks.

This feature, called Focus mode, gives the host (instructor) and co-hosts (often, IAs) view of all participants’ videos without other participants seeing each other.

Host view in Focus mode, where the host can view of all participants’ videos.
Host/Instructor view in Focus mode


When meeting participants are in Focus mode, they can see their own video, the host's and co-hosts' videos, and the videos of any participants spotlighted by the host. Other than that, they see only other participants' names and their nonverbal feedback or reactions. They can also hear other participants when those participants are unmuted.


Participant view in Focus mode where they can see their own video and the host's video.
Participant/student view in Focus mode


In addition, the host and co-host can view and switch between each participant’s shared screen, while the participants can only view their own content. If the host finds a participant’s content should be shared with others, they can easily begin sharing the participant’s screen with others.

Using Focus mode in a meeting

Focus mode is now enabled for all Main Campus UC San Diego Zoom users by default. To find out if Focus Mode is available for UCSD Health staff, please contact

To engage Focus mode as the host or co-host of a meeting:

  1. Make sure that you are using Zoom version 5.7.3 or higher.
  2. Start a meeting as the host or co-host.
  3. Click More  on the meeting toolbar.
  4. Click Start Focus Mode.
  5. Click Start to confirm, or select the Don’t ask me again check box to skip this confirmation going forward.
  6. When Focus mode begins, you and the participants are notified with a banner along the top of the video window. Additionally, the focus mode  icon is always visible in the top-left corner of the video window, next to the encryption icon, while focus mode is active.

Once Focus mode has been started, participants in focus mode will only see the video of the host, co-hosts, any participants spotlighted by the host, and their own video. They will only see other participants' names, their nonverbal feedback or reactions, and hear them when unmuted.

Participants’ shared screens are only visible to the host and co-hosts, but the host can allow all other participants to view as well:

  1. Click the up arrow  to the right of Share Screen .
  2. In the Shared screens can be seen by section, click All participants.
  3. (Optional) To return to just host and co-hosts viewing shared content, select Host only.
    Note: These options are only available when in Focus mode.

To end Focus mode:

  1. Click More  on the meeting toolbar.
  2. Click Stop Focus Mode

Here to help 

ETS is thrilled to be able to support instructors using Focus mode to enhance instruction for students who are on Zoom. Please see our Get Help page for training and assistance options, as well as to get in touch with us for help.

And please let us know about your experience with Focus mode! We're excited to hear about how it works for you.