How to Use Zello, a Push-to-Talk App

Understand what Zello is and how this walkie talkie app is used

Zello is a messaging app that focuses on audio rather than a traditional text message. Unlike Skype or WhatsApp, which function more like traditional telephones with continuous two-way communication, Zello has a user interface that's more like a walkie-talkie.

Zello is one of the top walkie-talkie apps available for iOS and Android.

Zello requires a constant internet connection from either a Wi-Fi or cellular signal to function. The official Zello apps have very little functionality when offline.

Create a Zello Account

To use Zello, download the app from the iOS App Store, or go to Google Play to download the Android version. Go to the official Zello website to download and use the Zello PC app. Zello doesn't offer a version for the Mac.

  1. Open the Zello app on your mobile device.

  2. Tap Sign Up.

  3. Enter a username, email address, and password. Tap Create Account.

  4. Optionally, enter a display name and phone number and add a photo. Tap Done.

    Zello app showing Sign Up screens on iPhone

Entering your phone number is optional, but it makes it easier for you to find your friends and vice versa.

Add Contacts to Zello on a Mobile Device

Before you can use the app, you need to populate Zello with your contacts. There are several ways you can do this.

  1. Tap the three horizontal lines at the top of the app.

  2. Select Contacts.

  3. Tap the plus (+) sign in the lower-right corner.

  4. Select Search for Zello contact.

    Zello app showing screens for adding Contacts
  5. Enter your friend's name and tap Search to search people who have Zello accounts. You can also choose Address Book and send a text or email inviting one of your contacts to download Zello.

    Zello app Add a contact screens on Phone

    When you select Address Book, Zello automatically adds any of your contacts who have Zello accounts. You only need to send a text or email to contacts who do not have Zello.

How Zello Works

After you download Zello and add friends to your Contacts list, contacting one of those friends takes only seconds.

  1. Open the Zello app and tap the person's name you want to communicate with in your Contacts. If the person's status is Available, you'll see a green circle.

  2. Press and hold the microphone icon in the center of the screen. The circle turns orange and then red.

  3. While holding the microphone button, talk into your device's microphone. Release the microphone button when you finish speaking. Your contact will receive this audio almost immediately in real time.

    Starting a conversation with Zello on iPhone.
  4. When a contact's status is Busy, the app displays an orange circle. You can still leave a message, and Zello sends a text to notify the recipient to listen to it later. If the contact is Offline, no message can be sent or saved.

Your contacts must have the Zello app on their mobile device or computer.

How to Add Zello Contacts on a PC

The Zello PC app lacks a lot of the functionality of the iOS and Android versions and can only add contacts when you manually search for usernames and email addresses.

  1. Select Tools.

  2. Chose Add contact.

  3. Enter the user's name or email address in the field. If the person isn't found by Zello, invite them to join by either email or text message.

  4. Select Next.

  5. If you've entered the information correctly, you should see their name and profile picture. Select the profile picture to send them a contact request.

Add a Zello Friend With a QR Code

To add a contact via a QR code, tap Scan QR Code and then tap OK when asked for permission to use your camera. Your camera turns on.

Place your friend's QR code in front of the camera to scan it. If you saved their QR code to your device, tap the small picture icon in the upper-right corner to import the image manually. Your friend is added as soon as the QR code is read.

Make sure to scan the QR code from within the Zello app and not with another barcode reading app.

How to Locate Your Personal QR Code

A QR code is a type of barcode that stores information such as phone numbers, addresses, or in this case, a Zello username or channel name.

Scanning a profile QR code adds a Zello user to your contact list instantly. Scanning a channel code adds you to a Zello channel. Zello QR codes are created automatically for users and channels and don't need to be made manually.

Here's how to find your personal QR code on Zello.

  1. Tap the menu icon at the top of the app.

  2. Tap your Zello username.

  3. Tap your profile picture. A small menu appears along the bottom of the picture.

  4. Tap the barcode icon in the lower-right corner of the menu to display your barcode.

    Locating your barcode in Zello on iPod
  5. Show this barcode to a friend for them to scan or take a screenshot of it for posting on social media or sending via email.

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