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Big Blue Button (BBB)

In this page:

Big Blue Button is the videoconferencing tool, used for seminars, group meetings and other video calls. There are tutorials and a comprehensive knowledge base in their website, which we encourage you to use, since it will always be more precise and updated than this one, which will only cover the basics.

Good Practices

  • Use your full, real name when joining seminars and other public events.
  • Always join as a speaker if you can, then mute yourself when not intervening. When you join a meeting, BBB will prompt you to choose between doing so as a speaker or as a listener only.
  • :!: Try a headset or dedicated microphone if audio is choppy despite a good internet connection. BBB has an echo-suppression function that is at times too aggressive.

Start a Meeting

  • A default meeting room will be waiting in your BBB homepage.
  • Share it with other participants by clicking the 'Copy' button next to the room's link.
  • Click 'Start' once you're ready.
  • Select the microphone when prompted and go through the 'Echo Test' to go into the room.

 Fig.1 BigBlueButton's home page

Multiple Rooms & Room Settings

You can use the same room always or have different ones for different purposes. If you're a teacher, maybe you want a different room for each seminar. If you're a student, maybe you want one for group projects and one for tutoring sessions.

  • Click the 'Create a Room' button next to your default room to bring up the room settings dialogue.
  • 'Mute users when they join' is strongly recommended for every room, always.
  • For a Public Room, 'Allow any user to start this meeting' and 'All users join as moderators' are a good idea. Setting a password is a bad idea.
  • For a Private Room, set a password by clicking on the dice icon. Copy the 'Access Code' and share safely with participants. 'Require moderator approval before joining could be helpful'.

 Fig.2 Private Room settings

Using BigBlueButton

When you enter a BBB Room, this is what you will see. The main areas are:

  • Left: Users and chat
  • Top: Videocameras (if any)
  • Middle: Presentation (“Welcome to BigBlueButton by default)
  • Bottom: Basic buttons (Mic, Camera, Share screen, Upload a presentation…)

 Fig.3 BBB room welcome screen

Find detailed explanations of each function in the next sections.

Upload a Presentation

Upload slides or a PDF to go with your presentation:

  • Click on the '+' (Actions) button on the bottom left.
  • Select 'Manage presentations'.
  • Upload the desired PDF or Office document.
  • Click 'Upload' at the top right.

 Fig.4 Upload a presentation

You will be taken back to the main screen. The presentation will take a few seconds to upload and will then be displayed. You can control it with the buttons at the bottom, or even annotate it with the buttons at the right hand side!

Share Your Screen

If you want to show something that cannot be uploaded as a presentation, simply share your screen:

  • Click on the 'Share your screen' button. A pop-up dialogue will appear asking for permission.
  • Select 'Entire screen' or a specific application (depending on your use-case).
  • Click 'Allow'. (If the 'Allow' button is not clickable, go back to the previous step).

 Fig.4 Permission to share your screen

Public Chat & Shared Notes

Use the Chat and Shared Notes to interact with other participants. Chat with everyone or with individual participants (by clicking on their names). Always be respectful and be aware that the chat logs could be accessed by the room's owner or IT services. Shared Notes could include an outline for the day, the moderation rules for the room or the minutes of the meeting.

Fig.5 Example of shared notes

Advanced Features

BigBlueButton offers a wide range of settings and features. Visit their knowledge base for detailed explanations. These are some of the things you can do:

  1. Sharing videos
  2. Breakout rooms
  3. Polls
  4. Multi-User Whiteboards and Annotating Presentations
  5. Guest Policy (Can guests join freely, or do they need your permission first?)

Record a Meeting

Important to Consider

There are several reasons not to record video conferences:

  • Data protection: you need the explicit consent of all participants every time.
  • Video files are very large. Especially for longer seminars or conferences, they become huge.
  • Recordings on the server may be deleted if the available server capacity is exceeded.

Nevertheless, in some cases it may be useful to record a BBB conference.

First and foremost, you need to inform all participants before recording and get their explicit consent in order to hit the Record button. You must also state for how long and for what purpose you want to record. Beware: General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other legal frameworks apply.

:!: If you fail to obtain explicit permission from a single participant, the recording must never begin.

Participants do not need to explain or reason why they do not comply with recording and must not be forced to voice out such reasons under any circumstance, although they are of course welcome to do so if they find it appropriate.

How to Record a Meeting

If you follow the above guidelines for consent, then you are allowed to record the session.

  • Start a room and click on 'Start recording' at the very top
  • Confirm the recording
  • A counter will start of the time recorded
  • Eventually, stop the recording and end the meeting
  • Your recording will be available in your BBB Homepage, but not immediately!

BigBlueButton will immediately start working in the background to process your video and make it available to you on your BBB Home Page, but this will take time. The longer the video, the longer it will take to process; this could range from minutes to several hours and potentially even a whole day.

Fig.6 Previous recordings show in your BBB dashboard

Editing a Recording

Once you recorded a BBB-conference you might want to share it with the participants or even publish it.

:!: Always make sure that you have explicit consent for publication from all participiants. Otherwise the recordings must not be published.

Technically a BBB recording consists of several components:

  • Video(s) of the individual participants with audio track
  • Presentations
  • Public chat

These components of a session are stored separately on the server. Their views can be changed individually by the participants during the course of the conference.

When a recorded session is opened in BBB, these different streams are merged again at runtime. During playback, the viewers have the possibility to change the presentation (e.g. set it to full screen, hide it, etc.). This means that the conference was not stored on the server as ONE video file that could be downloaded.

This leads to two possibilities for editing a recording:

  1. Download the video files individually and arrange them afterwards with an external tool (video editing).
  2. Play the recording in the browser and record your screen with a screen capturing tool.

Two Variants

Download individually:

  • Chat not available
  • Video editing tool required (and knowledge)
  • Videos can be freely arranged
  • Individual post-editing possible (e.g. sound)

Screen capture:

  • Chat available
  • Screen recording tool
  • Live arrangement during runtime
  • Only post-editing of the entire recording
  • Duration of screen recording = duration of recording

Variant 1: Download Video Files Individually

After a video conference has been recorded, BBB stores two individual videos on the server:

  • Webcams
  • Presentation

These videos must be downloaded and merged (edited) using a video editing tool.

:!: The chat history cannot be downloaded. It is not available when using this method. If you need the chat history to be part of the recording, please use method 2.

Download Videos from the BBB Server

The BBB recording can be accessed in the browser via the start page of the room in which the video conference took place.

The recording consists of two windows that can be played simultaneously (→ Play button). Webcams and presentation are individual video files.

For this method we have to download the two video files individually. First, move the mouse over the webcam video. With a right click in the browser ( Firefox in this case) a menu appears. Click Save video as…

Fig.7 Download a video by right-clicking and selecting ''Save video as''

Choose a folder where you want to save the video file.

Fig.8 Name and save your BBB recording

Repeat this process for the second video: Move the mouse over the presentation video, right-click and select Save video as…

After a successful download, you have saved both videos on your hard disk. In the next step you can import them into the video editing tool of your choice and arrange them.

Variant 2: Screen Recording

As described above, the individual streams can be arranged in the browser while the recording is running. Therefore, screen-recording should only be done with someone present who will follow the conference attentively and, during the course of the recording, zoom in on the presentation when it should be in the foreground, etc.

Here are some screen-recording tools that you can use in different platforms.

OBS Studio (Open Broadcaster Software)

We recommend OBS Studio, a free and open source software that works on all computer operating systems: Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD. It is feature-rich and has both a good knowledge base and an active community to help you learn to use it in depth. You can download it from their webpage,

If you want a quick fix, a simpler tool that “just works”, below are some alternatives for each platform.


Kazam: streamlined and extremely simple to use, it is available through Launchpad. Here you can find a simple, step-by-step guide for installing and using it in Ubuntu.


The simplest way is to use the built-in application Quicktime Player:

  • Launch Quicktime
  • Select 'New Screen Recording' under the 'File' menu.
  • Select which area of the screen to record.
  • Configure other options (audio, mouse clicks, etc.)
  • Hit 'Record'!


Windows 10 has a built-in recording feature but it is a bit hidden. It is built into the 'Game Bar' application. Here you can find a guide on how to open, configure and use it. Camtasia and Bandicamp are other popular options.

Mobile Devices (Android, iOS)

Modern versions of both iOS and Android have built-in screen recording capabilities. If you have Android 11 or over, have a look at the official Google documentation. If you have iOS 13 or over, have at the official Apple documentation.

For earlier versions of Android, popular apps available via the Google Play Store are 'InShot' and 'AZ Screen Recorder'. For earlier versions of iOS, popular apps available via the App Store are 'Record it!' and 'Go Record'.