Zoom Zen: Banishing Fireflies and Otter for a Flawless Zoom Experience

Struggling with distracting effects in Zoom? This guide shows you step-by-step how to disable Fireflies and manage Otter captions for professional, focused meetings. Read on!

Written by
Andre Smith
Updated On
February 6, 2024


Remember that important presentation where, instead of your brilliant slides, everyone's eyes were glued to dancing glowworms across the screen? Or the tense client meeting where the live captions kept announcing, "Silence" every time someone paused to think? Yep, you guessed it: Fireflies and Otter have struck again.

Fireflies, with their whimsical animation, might seem harmless, but they can turn a professional meeting into a disco party. And Otter, while a champion for real-time transcription, can sometimes turn your eloquent pauses into awkward pronouncements of, well, nothing.

But fear not, fellow Zoomer! This blog is your guide to reclaiming control and banishing these distracting effects for good. Get ready to ditch the unwanted lightshow and silence the phantom captions, because it's time to focus on what really matters: your voice, your message, and a smooth, productive Zoom experience.

So, buckle up and let's dive into the how-to's of a Fireflies-free, Otter-less Zoom world. You'll be thanking yourself – and your audience – in no time!

The Problem: Fireflies and Otter Explained

Fireflies: Dancing Distractions or Accessibility Boon?

Imagine pitching your brilliant idea, only to be upstaged by a disco party of dancing glowworms flitting across your screen. That's Fireflies in action, a playful visual effect intended to liven up meetings. While some find it fun, others (especially those with visual sensitivities) can find it distracting, hindering focus and even causing eye strain. Accessibility concerns also arise, as the flickering lights can be disorienting for users with epilepsy or photosensitivity.

Otter: Whispering Secrets or Misinterpreting Mumbles?

Otter, the real-time captioning champion, promises to bridge communication gaps. Its live transcripts seem magical, but the magic can sometimes fizzle. Privacy concerns lurk, as recordings and transcripts are stored on Otter's servers, raising questions about data security. Additionally, the captions aren't always flawless. Mumbles become pronouncements of "Silence," and pauses morph into awkward pronouncements of "Uh." While helpful for accessibility, relying solely on Otter's accuracy can lead to misunderstandings and comedic misinterpretations.

In essence, Fireflies and Otter, while offering unique benefits, can also become unwanted guests in your Zoom meetings. Let's explore how to graciously remove them and reclaim your meeting space for clear communication and focused collaboration.

Solutions: Reclaiming Your Zoom Space

1. Dimming the Fireflies

Ready to bid adieu to the disco party? Here's how to banish those Fireflies:

  1. Access Zoom Settings: During a meeting, click the upward arrow next to "Stop Video" and select "Settings."
  2. Disable Fireflies: Navigate to the "In Meeting (Advanced)" tab. Under "Reactions," uncheck the box labeled "Enable Fireflies."
  3. Confirm and Rejoice: Click "Save" to seal the deal. Witness the glowworms gracefully fade away, leaving a calm, distraction-free space.

Alternative Ways to Spark Visual Interest:

  • Custom Backgrounds: Transport yourself to a serene beach or a vibrant cityscape. Zoom's virtual backgrounds create a unique and engaging atmosphere without distracting animations.
  • Reactions: Use Zoom's built-in reactions (thumbs up, clapping, etc.) to convey emotions and feedback without visual overload.
  • Emojis: Sprinkle a dash of personality with custom emojis or Zoom's emoji reactions. They add a touch of fun without disrupting focus.
  • Virtual Whiteboards: Encourage collaboration and visual thinking with shared virtual whiteboards or collaborative note-taking tools.

1. Taming the Otter

Here's how to manage Otter's presence in your meetings:

Disabling Otter Entirely:

  1. Access Zoom Account Settings: Visit https://zoom.us/profile and sign in to your Zoom account.
  2. Manage Apps: Click on the "Apps" tab on the left-hand side.
  3. Disconnect Otter: Locate Otter in the list of connected apps and click "Disconnect." This will prevent Otter from automatically joining your meetings.

Managing Otter's Visibility:

  • Hide Otter Window: During a meeting, minimize the Otter window to reduce its visual presence.
  • Adjust Caption Size and Placement: Customize the caption size and position within the Zoom window for optimal visibility and minimal distraction.
  • Pause Transcription: Temporarily pause Otter's transcription if needed for sensitive conversations or to reduce visual clutter.

Alternative Live Captioning Options:

  • Zoom's Built-in Live Captions: Zoom offers its own live captioning feature, accessible in the meeting settings. It's a privacy-focused alternative that doesn't store data externally.
  • Third-Party Captioning Services: Explore other live captioning services that align with your privacy and accuracy needs.

The best approach depends on your specific needs and preferences. Experiment with different settings and tools to create a Zoom experience that promotes focus, clarity, and inclusivity for all participants.

Benefits of a Fireflies and Otter-Free Zoom Experience

By bidding farewell to Fireflies and managing Otter's presence, you unlock a whole new universe of productive and professional Zoom meetings. Let's delve into the benefits of a distraction-free Zoom space:

Sharpened Focus: No more flitting attention or battling visual overload. Eliminate those dancing glowworms and you'll find yourself laser-focused on the speaker, the slides, or the discussion at hand. Your mental energy, formerly hijacked by flashing lights and phantom captions, is now available for active participation and deeper engagement.

Professional Polish: Imagine presenting your brilliant ideas without a disco ball in the background. Removing Fireflies elevates the meeting's decorum, conveying seriousness and professionalism to your audience. You'll project a polished image, demonstrating respect for participants and the importance of the discussion.

Accessibility Amplified: For participants with hearing impairments, live captions can be a lifeline. By managing Otter's visibility and accuracy, you ensure captions remain readily available without becoming an intrusive distraction for others. This creates an inclusive environment where everyone can fully participate and contribute.

Bonus Benefit: Reduced Meeting Fatigue: Constant visual and auditory stimuli can tire your brain and leave you drained after a Zoom marathon. Removing unnecessary distractions like Fireflies and managing Otter's presence helps conserve your mental energy, letting you stay sharp and engaged throughout the entire session.

A calm and focused Zoom space isn't just about personal preference; it fosters effective communication, collaboration, and overall meeting success. So, take control of your digital environment, silence the distractions, and unlock the full potential of Zoom for yourself and your participants.

Bot Free Alternative to Otter and Firelfies

Building on the foundation of a Fireflies and Otter-free Zoom experience, ScreenApp introduces a new paradigm in meeting transcription and note-taking. This innovative tool enhances your Zoom sessions by offering selective, bot-free transcription and summary services, tailored to your specific needs. Here's how ScreenApp elevates your meeting experience:

  1. Tailored Transcription: ScreenApp's selective transcription feature allows you to choose specific segments of your meeting for transcription. This means you can focus on the most relevant parts of your discussion, ensuring that you capture the essence of the meeting without the clutter of unnecessary details.
  2. Bot-Free Accuracy: Unlike automated services, ScreenApp provides human-level accuracy in transcription. This bot-free approach not only enhances the quality of the transcribed text but also ensures that nuances and context are preserved, crucial for complex discussions and professional settings.
  3. Efficient Summarization: ScreenApp goes beyond mere transcription. It offers concise, accurate summaries of your meetings, saving you the time and effort of sifting through pages of text. These summaries provide quick reference points and facilitate easy recall of key discussions and decisions.
  4. Streamlined Note-Taking: With ScreenApp, the chore of note-taking becomes streamlined and efficient. It integrates seamlessly into your Zoom interface, allowing you to take notes effortlessly while staying engaged in the meeting. This feature is especially beneficial for multi-taskers and those who value comprehensive meeting records.
  5. Customizable Experience: ScreenApp recognizes that every user has unique needs. It allows for customization in transcription and summarization, enabling you to tailor the output to your specific requirements. Whether you need detailed notes or high-level summaries, ScreenApp adapts to your style.
  6. Enhanced Accessibility and Inclusion: Like Otter, ScreenApp supports accessibility by providing clear, accurate transcriptions and summaries. This feature is invaluable for participants with hearing impairments and those who prefer written content for better understanding.

By integrating ScreenApp into your Zoom meetings, you not only maintain the professionalism and focus achieved by removing Fireflies and managing Otter but also add a layer of efficiency and customization to your digital communication. ScreenApp is the key to unlocking a more productive, inclusive, and streamlined meeting experience.


In a world drowning in digital noise, taking control of your Zoom space is more than just a preference – it's a power move. By banishing the distractions of Fireflies and managing Otter's presence, you unlock a world of enhanced focus, professionalism, and inclusivity.

Remember the key takeaways:

  • Fireflies and Otter offer unique benefits, but can also become unwanted guests in your meeting.
  • Disabling Fireflies and managing Otter's visibility is simple and effective.
  • Focus, professionalism, and accessibility all benefit from a distraction-free Zoom environment.

Now it's your turn! Share your own experiences with Fireflies and Otter in the comments below. Have you discovered any clever hacks for managing distractions? Do you have other Zoom features you'd love to see explored? Let's create a community of Zooming zen masters, sharing tips and tricks for conquering the digital jungle.

And don't forget to explore the vast world of Zoom features beyond the basics! From virtual whiteboards to breakout rooms, there's a treasure trove of tools waiting to be discovered. Dive in, experiment, and create Zoom experiences that are both productive and engaging.

Remember, a calm and focused Zoom meeting is not just a dream – it's a click away. So, ditch the distractions, embrace the focus, and let your ideas truly shine!

ScreenApp effortlessly captures your screen recordings and leverages AI to transcribe, summarize and take notes of your videos and audio, making it simple to share insights with your team, clients, and prospects.

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