How to host Jackbox over Zoom on Mac OSX – with sound!

The Jackbox Party Packs by Jackbox Games have been a lifesaver in the COVID-19 pandemic given it has been very hard to see people in person. Most of the games work great over Zoom, but unfortunately getting the perfect Jackbox setup it isn’t the most straightforward task. I have experimented with various setups and I believe I have found the perfect method to a seamless Jackbox experience.

Set Jackbox to windowed mode

Before you begin your game, open up Jackbox and set it to windowed mode. This will allow you to see your friends, control zoom and play at the same time with a single screen. It’s slightly different for each pack, but most of them have a settings option in the main menu where you can choose the volume and full-screen/windowed. After you have done this, exit Jackbox.

Start your zoom call

Start your Zoom call, no need to invite anyone yet.

Before you open Jackbox, share your screen with computer sound

It’s very important to do this before you start the Jackbox pack you will be playing. When you share your screen with the Share Computer Sound, it creates the “ZoomAudioDevice” which aggregates your microphone and computer audio into a single device for Zoom to use. It is important to do this before Jackbox starts because Jackbox picks the audio output on startup and keeps it for the entire session, if the ZoomAudioDevice isn’t there then no matter how many times you try sharing your screen the sound won’t come through.

Start Jackbox

Start up your desired Jackbox Party Pack (make sure you’ve set it to windowed mode).

Stop sharing your screen then share the Jackbox window

You could just play Jackbox sharing your screen as above, but it is a sub-par experience. Your friends will be able to see all your saucy notifications, all your chrome tabs open in the background etc. What you really want is to just share the Jackbox window. If you stop sharing and then press share screen again, you will now have the option to choose the Jackbox window. Pick it then press share. You could also choose to share a screen portion instead of the window, but this could result in things drawing over the window, although it will make it easier to switch party packs.

NOTE: You’ll see on my screenshots I have unticked Optimise Screen Share for Video Clip. This is because I have found that although this improves the quality of the stream, the trade-off is some extra latency at times which is much more annoying when playing games with countdown timers. You milage may vary.

Whenever you switch a party pack, repeat all the steps

It is important that whenever you start a party pack you do it with your screen sharing on and share computer sound ticked, otherwise your sound will not work. Exiting a party pack will stop the window screen sharing, so you will need to start at the first stop.

Other Methods

I only discovered this method recently, prior to this I was using a more convoluted setup that involved two laptops and a program called Soundflower, which I will go into more detail into another post however this method is much easier to set up.

I hope this helps, happy Jackboxing!