Why are my Zoom videos playing backwards and how to fix them?

Main points

  • The mirrored image on the Zoom preview screen isn’t actually what others see—your text looks good to them.
  • Mirroring in a video call can help with natural interactions by showing you images you’re used to seeing.
  • Zoom allows you to turn off mirroring in your video settings, making it easier for online tutors and frequent speakers.

Video calls and meetings are now a regular part of most of our work weeks. Many of us prefer to work remotely, or in hybrid environments where not all employees will be in the same building at the same time. Zoom has been the video calling program of choice for most people due to its ease of use, but there’s still a strange problem that’s bothering people to this day.

For whatever reason, Zoom likes to take your camera and flip it around so that when you look at yourself in the little preview screen, you appear in a mirror image of everyone you’re talking to. This can be quite annoying, especially when you need to show something to your audience through writing. Thankfully, this problem is far less serious than you might think.


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Why is my Zoom lagging?

It’s all about mirroring

Zoom backward

pocket plush

There is no need to panic as your video is not actually backwards. When the person on the other end of the call sees you, you act exactly as you should. This means that all text is suitable for them. Essentially, to fix this issue, you don’t need to do anything at all, as all you see in the video is your own preview that’s gone wrong.

This is because mirroring is turned on by default when using Zoom and other services. You can test this by reaching out and shaking your own hand – the mirror will show you and your video image both reaching out with the same hand. This is how you know the mirror is open. It’s also reflected in Teams, Skype and Google Meet.

Don’t panic. Your text will look normal to everyone.

zoom mirror

pocket plush

The good news is that if you’re showing text through your camera (perhaps showing what you wrote), mirroring means it will look back at you and appear normal to everyone else in the video conference. Just avoid writing anything backwards, because then it will really be backwards.

Zoom, Skype, Teams, and Google Meet all give you this mirrored view, but everything is presented to the audience exactly as it should be. So, don’t change anything, don’t write things backwards, don’t print things backwards – instead, stop worrying about it, because you’ll only get yourself into trouble.


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How to turn off mirroring in Zoom

Back to normal

Zoom is currently the only platform that allows you to turn off mirroring. If you find it too confusing – maybe you spend a lot of time rendering text, like an online tutor – then you can turn off mirroring in your video settings.

Zoom settings
Zoom settings

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the Zoom app and click settings icon.
  2. Click Video settings – This will open a preview of your video.
  3. click”Mirror my videos” and see which view works best for you.

You can only do this on the desktop app. Yu can do this on the mobile app, but you’ll still be mirrored in the mobile app. If you use Zoom in a browser (which we don’t recommend), the video will not be mirrored.


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Q: Why use mirroring?

A mirror represents the view of yourself that you are used to seeing. You see it every morning when you look in the mirror. When presenting, you can more easily understand what’s going on and provide more natural results through mirroring.

Without mirroring in the preview window, when you move to the left, you’ll see yourself move to the right, which is confusing. You immediately think you did something wrong because it’s not what you expected to see, so you try to correct it. This phenomenon only really occurs in videos where you can see yourself, and it’s something we’ve only been dealing with for a few decades.

It’s important to realize that the person on the other end of the phone is not sitting in your seat; They actually sit across from you. When you see their view – a view without mirrors – it’s like an out-of-body experience. This is something you never see, which is why mirroring is used.

Q: Where else do the mirrors exist?

Mirroring is very common in selfie cameras. They present a sight you’re not used to seeing – that of someone watching you. Therefore, the image you see on the selfie camera is a mirror image, not the image the camera actually captured.

You can test this for yourself with the handshake test we mentioned earlier. If you reach out to shake the image, the mirror will show you both raising your hands on the same side, preventing the handshake.

Smartphones often offer an option to save a mirrored image or a flipped version of what you see in the preview, which is what someone standing across from you would see. This can cause confusion with the text on the garment and the branding will appear backwards if you save a mirrored image, which is an option for many.

The situation raises a broader philosophical question about the intended audience for selfies: If you like the mirrored version, then you’re taking the picture for yourself; If you like the mirrored version, then you are taking a picture of yourself; if you like the mirrored version, then you are taking a picture of yourself; If you prefer a flipped image, you’re doing it for someone else. Does this make you a narcissistic selfie taker?

However, it’s best not to think too much about this as it can be very confusing. But if you find that your selfies are always “backward,” checking your phone’s camera settings may allow you to make adjustments and achieve the results you want.

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