How to Change Microsoft Teams Backgrounds [Including Video]

Adam Listek

Read more posts by this author.

If you’re tired of your boring, old home background, you can change the background in Teams. Virtual backgrounds—also called background effects, background filters, or video filters—is a fairly new feature adopted by many modern video conferencing apps like Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, and Zoom.

Virtual backgrounds intelligently separate the subject in the foreground (you) from the background (your living room, office cubicle, etc.) and allow you to change the background to virtually anything else. It’s like having your own personal green screen studio inside your computer!

In this article, you will learn how to change the background in Microsoft Teams before and during a meeting. You will also learn some advanced tips and tricks such as bulk adding custom backgrounds and using video files as backgrounds.

Prerequisites

Before you try to change the background in Teams, it is important to first know what devices and operating systems support this feature and confirm if your device is supported or not. This article was written using the Microsoft Teams version of 1.4.00.4167 (64-bit).

In addition to the general hardware requirements for Microsoft Teams, there are additional requirements for background effects. Separating the subject in the foreground from the background requires a lot of computing power which not all devices are capable of.

Supported Operating Systems

  • Windows 10 or any supported Windows OS with an AVX2 capable processor.
  • macOS
  • iOS 12 or later on an iPhone 7, iPad 2018 (6th generation), or iPod Touch 2019 (7th generation) or later devices.

Limitations

  • Background effects are not available in a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment.
  • Android is not currently supported, but a Microsoft Teams product team member confirmed in a forum post on Microsoft’s UserVoice site that the team is planning to add background blur support.
  • Only the blur effect is available on the iOS operating system.

Even if your device meets the above requirements, you may sometimes experience decreased performance while using background effects on older devices or while using other resource-intensive applications in conjunction with Teams. Teams will display a warning message if this occurs.

Change Your Teams Backgrounds Before a Meeting

Conveniently, before you start or join a meeting, Teams will prompt you to choose your audio and video settings before placing you in the meeting. This offers a great opportunity to choose the perfect background.

With that word of caution out of the way, read on to learn all about Microsoft Teams’ virtual backgrounds. The following steps shown are on a Windows 10 system.

  1. Open up Microsoft Teams if not already open.

2. There are a few ways to join or start a video meeting. From the Calendar view, join an existing meeting or click the Meet Now button to start a private meeting.

Starting a private meeting, or joining an existing meeting from the Calendar in Microsoft Teams
Starting a private meeting, or joining an existing meeting from the Calendar in Microsoft Teams

3. Within an individual chat, click the Video call button to start a one-on-one video meeting.

Starting a Microsoft Teams meeting from an existing chat.
Starting a Microsoft Teams meeting from an existing chat.

4. Turn on the video by clicking the Camera switch to the On position

Don’t worry, Teams won’t show your video to any meeting participants until you select Join now and are placed in the meeting.

Switching the Camera On
Switching the Camera On

5. Click on the Background filters text to open the background settings menu.

Navigating to the Background filters menu.
Navigating to the Background filters menu.

6. Select Blur to blur your real-life background, or select a built-in image.

Blurring the video background in a Microsoft Teams meeting.
Blurring the video background in a Microsoft Teams meeting.

7. To use a custom image, select Add new and select an image from your computer.

Adding a new video background in Microsoft Teams.
Adding a new video background in Microsoft Teams.
Locating a new background to use for a video background in Windows 10.
Locating a new background to use for a video background in Windows 10.

The supported formats for custom images are JPG, PNG, and BMP. If you are in a corporate environment and do not see the Add new button, your IT administrator may have disabled this option.

8. Click Join now to join the meeting.

Virtual backgrounds are software-generated which are not 100% perfect. Parts of your real background may occasionally become visible. Always survey your real background and remove or cover any sensitive information or unwanted objects from your camera’s field of view.

Update Your Teams Background During a Meeting

If you have already joined a meeting and would like to change your Teams background, you will need to follow slightly different steps to access the background settings menu.

In the meeting controls bar, open the More Actions menu by clicking on the … (ellipses) and then clicking on the Apply background effects menu option.

Clicking on the More Options menu for an existing meeting.
Clicking on the More Options menu for an existing meeting.
Choosing to Apply background effects within a meeting.
Choosing to Apply background effects within a meeting.

Select Apply to update the video background image or setting. The Apply button will read as Apply and turn on video if your video is currently off or if you are using the preview feature, as shown below.

If you have your video on, clicking on the preview feature will turn your video off in the meeting. Meeting participants will not see your video or any changes to your background while you are using the preview feature.

Viewing the blur video effect with the Preview option.
Viewing the blur video effect with the Preview option.

Add Many Custom Background Images at Once

If you want to add many custom background images all at once, there is a much quicker and easier method than using the Add new button within Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams saves all custom background images to a special folder in your user profile. Due to this design, it is possible to add custom images directly to this folder. The next time you launch Teams, Teams will automatically recognize the images and make them available to use in the background settings menu.

To add many custom background images at once:

  1. Navigate to the %AppData%\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads folder within Windows Explorer.

The uploads folder within macOS is located in the ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads folder.

2. Copy or move your custom background images into the Uploads folder.

Bulk adding all the backgrounds from the Backgrounds by IKEA website to the Uploads folder.
Bulk adding all the backgrounds from the Backgrounds by IKEA website to the Uploads folder.

3. Launch Microsoft Teams. If Teams is already running, you will need to quit and re-launch Teams before it will recognize the new images.

Quitting Teams is not the same as closing Teams. To quit Teams on Windows, right-click the Teams icon in the notification area, and select Quit.

The custom background images are now available in the Background settings menu within Teams, as shown below.

Viewing custom video backgrounds in Microsoft Teams.
Viewing custom video backgrounds in Microsoft Teams.

How to Use Video Files as Backgrounds

If you have ever used Zoom, you may be familiar with the option to use an MP4 or MOV video file as a virtual background.

While Teams doesn’t currently support using video files as backgrounds, you case use third-party apps to achieve this same effect. Most third-party video applications create a virtual webcam device, which combines the video feed from your real webcam device with additional effects—such as a video background.

The steps listed below will walk you through using a popular freemium app for Windows called XSplit VCam. This app is the best option for most people since it doesn’t require a green screen and the free version’s only limitation is a watermark that gets added to the virtual webcam in the upper right of the video.

If you require a more professional setup, you can purchase a license from the XSplit website, or purchase a green screen and use an alternative app such as the popular open-source (free) cross-platform application Open Broadcaster Studio (OBS).

To change your Teams background to a video using XSplit:

  1. Download and install XSplit VCam from the XSplit website.

2. Launch XSplit VCam.

3. Select your webcam from the webcam drop-down menu if it is not already selected as the default.

Selecting the correct webcam within XSplit VCam
Selecting the correct webcam within XSplit VCam

4. Click on Add Background and choose Media file.

Adding Media File
Adding Media File

5. Browse your computer and select any MP4 (only supported format) video file you want to use for your background. If successful, the video will show as a thumbnail in the Backgrounds section and is automatically applied as the video background.

Applying the selected video background.
Applying the selected video background.

6. While leaving XSplit VCam open, launch Microsoft Teams.

7. In a Teams meeting, click the Device Settings (gear) icon and choose the XSplit VCam option from the Camera drop-down menu.

Changing the Camera device in Teams to use XSplit VCam.
Changing the Camera device in Teams to use XSplit VCam.

Virtual Background Resources

Many popular companies have jumped on the virtual background trend and have curated and shared their own background image galleries which can be downloaded and used within Teams. The list below will help you get started curating your own collection of background images.

Next Steps

In this article, you’ve learned the basics of how to change your background in Microsoft Teams before and during a meeting as well as advanced topics like bulk adding custom backgrounds and using video files as backgrounds.

For additional help and training, be sure to visit the Microsoft Teams help & learning site and to read about the latest updates and upcoming features, visit the Microsoft Teams Blog site.

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