How to Create Custom Backgrounds in Microsoft Teams

Posted by Gary Utley on July 14, 2020


Whether you're going for whimsical or professional, custom backgrounds in MS Teams can be a huge boon to your working environment. If you spend any amount of time on video chat in Microsoft Teams, you may have already noticed that many of your coworkers have custom backgrounds. Custom backgrounds aren't just for fun; they can also be extremely useful. Here's what you need to know about creating the perfect custom background in MS Teams.

Why Use a Custom Background?

First, custom backgrounds are fun and whimsical. Since you can't display your personality in the office anymore, it may be tempting to display your personality in the form of a custom background instead. This is a professional thing to do: Everyone knows that teams work better together when people know each other well. If you use a custom background that says something about you, such as a favorite show, it can launch some “water-cooler talk” later.

But it's not just about fun. When you're working from home, it's possible that you have a lot going on in the background. Maybe you have some clutter that you don't have time to clean up, or maybe it's just aesthetically unpleasing. A custom background will cover all that up for you digitally, so you don't have to worry about it.

What Are Some of the Most Common Issues with a Custom Background?

A custom background can get distracting, so before you apply a custom background, there are a few things that you should consider:

  • Is it appropriate? Sometimes something that seems like a nice joke may actually be too distracting or even unintentionally offensive. Think about whether you would display this image openly in your office, or whether it may be something that's so fantastic that it'll derail your conversations entirely.
  • Is it too neutral or does it match your clothing? Custom backgrounds work by detecting you and the background separately. If you choose a background that's the same color as your clothes or your skin, you're going to disappear!
  • Is it pixelated? That can be distracting and unprofessional. You want to get a background that's high resolution, so it looks polished and professional.

In general, something that you can imagine sharing around the office should be a great custom background.

How Do You Find Custom Backgrounds in MS Teams?

You can either pick from your own camera roll (make sure nothing's hiding in the background) or look up video call backgrounds online. There are a lot of creative, quirky ones, such as ones that mimic the talking head shots in "The Office." There are also stock photos of beaches, sunny locales and even just other offices. Some people even take a photo of their office to bring home with them!

But be careful when just downloading images off the internet, as people love to upload "jokes" such as images that secretly have a hidden ghost in them. If you don't want to startle your co-workers, you should keep to professional sites.

How Can You Set a Custom Background?

Alright, all that preamble aside, how do you actually set a custom background? MS Teams makes it easy.

  • While you're on a video call, select the three dots in the corner.
  • Select "Show Background Effects." Here, you'll be able to see some of the default backgrounds available for MS Teams.
  • Select "Add New" and upload the image you want to use. 

And there are other background effects, too. You can choose to just use Microsoft Teams blur background if you want to hide things in the back. 

As you can see, you can also use default backgrounds if you really don't want to search for your own. While you're on the call, you'll now be able to see your own custom background, and yourself floating in front of it. Depending on your lighting and your clothing, the result can be very convincing.

There's more to creating custom backgrounds for MS Teams than just setting a background. There are a lot of considerations, too. First of all, you do want to make sure that the image is suitable to your environment. And even if it is suitable, it can't be so funny and entertaining that it becomes distracting.

But once you do have the right setup, you'll be able to have your video meetings on a creative, clean and professional background, and one that even describes a little of your personality, too. For more information about what you can do to make your MS Teams meetings special, and about how you can leverage MS Teams to the best of your ability, you can contact the experts at Red River.

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Topics: Microsoft Teams