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How to change your background in Microsoft Teams

If your organization uses Microsoft Teams, you’re probably using it as your go-to tool for remote work or quick team meetings. Teams can be a more complex tool than something like Zoom or Skype, and not all of its features are immediately apparent, like changing your background. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it, though, and we’re here to show you how.

Changing the background before a meeting

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Starting up Teams and waiting for a meeting to begin? You can change your background right now! Here’s what to do:

Step 1: Open your Background Effects. Before joining a Teams video, you can easily see this icon just to the right of your microphone switch. It looks like a tiny person sitting in front of a static background. If you don’t see this option on your device, then select Settings to take a closer look.

Step 2: A new side window should now pop open on the right of your screen. This has all of your background effects. The first option, the “ban” symbol, will restore your screen to your real background if you want. The second option at the top is a blur effect, which uses AI tech to simply blur your background and mask everything except your face. If you don’t have many background preferences and just want some privacy (or you just want to hide a mess), enabling blur is a fast and easy way to change your background.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: If you don’t like the look of blue and prefer to pick a background, scrolling down on the Background Effects window will show you all the images that you can put up as your background. Many are just basic white rooms that won’t cause any distraction, but there are also a lot of nature scenes and fantasy landscapes to pick from. When you find one you like, you can select the Preview button at the bottom to see how it will look on your screen. Microsoft has mentioned that they may add the ability to use your own images as backgrounds, but for now, this is not an available feature.

Step 4: When you find a background you like, select Apply, and that will change your background for your upcoming meeting.

Changing the background during a meeting

If you’ve already started a video meeting, don’t worry! You can still apply a background effect any time you want; it’s just a slightly different process.

Step 1: Look at your Control Bar for Teams on the screen. It has icons for the camera, mic, etc. Click the Three Dots to access more settings.

Step 2: When your additional settings pop up, look for the option that says Show Background Effects. Select it. This will open up the same side window that we talked about for our previous instructions.

Step 3: The same options will be available to you now, including the option to blur the screen. However, since your video meeting has already begun, the Preview button is more important than ever (especially if other people are in the meeting). Use Preview to cycle through the backgrounds you like the best until you find the right one — this will avoid switching backgrounds on the video conference itself. When you find one that works, select Apply to start using it.

Important compatibility note

If you are looking at these instructions and not seeing any of the options we’re talking about, they may not be available to you. Make sure your device is updated, and apply any updates to Teams if they are available. If you still can’t see any tools for changing your background, the ability may not be available on your particular device, although you should still have an option for blurring your background (that feature was introduced in 2018). However, if you switch to an alternative device like a desktop PC, you should be able to access full background features.

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