How to set a custom background on Microsoft Teams

Microsoft's collaboration platform allows users to change the background during video calls, so you can cover up the clutter at home

Also on Microsoft Teams, as on virtually all video conferencing and group video calling apps, you can set a virtual background to cover the real one, i.e. the room from which we're broadcasting. Since the beginning of June 2020, it is also possible to use a custom image as a background.

Initially, as of late 2018, it was only possible to blur the background, leaving your own figure in focus. It was enough to hide the clutter of the home room turned office when millions of people found themselves overnight dealing with smartworking due to the coronavirus pandemic. The next step was to be able to replace the background altogether with an image or photo, instead of the blur. Now the full functionality has arrived, with the ability to choose the background image from your own files. It might seem trivial, but on Teams it's the latest thing. Here's how to use this new feature.

Custom background in Teams: how to do it

In fact, it was possible to upload a custom background to Teams before, with a trick: just copy the image (Jpg, Bmp or Png) to %APPDATA%MicrosoftTeamsBackgroundsUploads (on Mac ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds). Now it's much simpler, because you can change the background directly from the app's interface.

After starting the video call, then, we have to click on the icon with the three dots and then on "Show background effects". In addition to the default images and blur, which were present before, we will now find a button to add a new image. After pressing it we'll be able to browse through the folders on our computer and choose the custom image for the background of the Microsoft Teams calls. We will see it immediately, but only we will see it: to show it to others we will have to confirm the choice by clicking "Apply".

How to choose a custom background for Teams

Now we are ready to upload any image to Teams and use it as a background. But that doesn't mean that all of them are good. First of all, the resolution is important: Teams handles video streams with a maximum resolution of 1,920×1,080 pixels. So, a higher resolution is useless and a lower one might lead to a grainy background. Then we also have to take into account the context of the video call: if it's a business videoconference too much fantasy might not be good, better to choose neutral and eye-soothing backgrounds. This is also true if we want to use the company logo as a custom background: you can do it, but it must be discreet, not too big and not repeated countless times.