How to use the Windows 10 PowerToys Video Conference app

Muting the audio and video during a teleconferencing meeting is sometimes an absolute necessity. The Video Conference app in PowerToys allows you do mute discreetly and gracefully.

Businessman Attending Video Conference On Computer

Image: AndreyPopov, Getty Images/iStockphoto

One of the many consequences of living and working during a worldwide pandemic is a newfound dependence on video teleconferencing technology. For many, the virtual meeting has become a mainstay of their day-to-day interactions for both business and personal matters. It is our new normal.

However, no matter which conferencing application you use, circumstances are bound to arise where you will want to, perhaps need to, instantly mute either the audio, the video, or both during a meeting. The developers of Windows 10 PowerToys appreciate the necessity of muting the microphone and camera during a teleconference and have pushed the pre-release version of the Video Conference app to the public for that purpose.

This how-to tutorial shows you how to activate and use the Video Conference app in Windows 10 PowerToys.

SEE: Video and online conferencing policy (TechRepublic Premium)

How to use the Windows 10 PowerToys Video Conference app

While the Video Conference for all of Windows 10 PowerToys will likely be part of the standard release in the future, it is now only available from the current pre-release, Version 0.22.0.

Once the proper version of PowerToys is downloaded and installed, open the PowerToys Settings menu and navigate to the Video Conference tab shown in Figure A.

Figure A

a-video-conference-mute-powertoys.jpg

Click or tap the Enable button to activate the Video Conference app of Windows 10 PowerToys.

You can edit the setting to create any key combinations you wish, but the default key combination commands for using the Video Conferencing app are:

  • Windows Key + N – Mute both audio and video
  • Windows Key + Shift + A – Mute audio only
  • Windows Key + Shift + O – Mute video only

You will also want to make sure the Video Conference app is monitoring the correct camera.

Why this Video Conference app is needed

Just about everyone who has used a camera for video teleconferencing has had to deal with a lost video signal. Under normal circumstances, the camera will have to restart or reset before the video signal will return. It is awkward and hardly discreet, which means everyone in the meeting notices.

To avoid this potentially embarrassing situation, developers of the Video Conference app of Windows 10 PowerToys created a virtual driver for the system camera. All video is routed through this virtual driver before it is transmitted to the conferencing application.

SEE: How to use the Windows key Shortcut Guide in Windows 10 PowerToys (TechRepublic)

When you ask the Video Conference app to mute the camera, the virtual driver stops streaming the camera video and instead begins transmitting a stream of black images. As far as the conferencing application is concerned it is still receiving video, so there is no need to restart or reset the camera when you unmute the camera.

Muting the audio is slightly easier, with the developers relying on the global microphone mute API in Windows 10.

Attending business meetings using video teleconferencing technology plays a vital role in the modern world we are living in. Unfortunately, you may not always be able to control the background environment in your location. Spouses, children, pets, roommates, etc. may pop into frame or microphone range at any time. The ability to instantly and discreetly mute audio and video with the Video Conference app of Windows 10 PowerToys can save you from an embarrassing situation.

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