How to change your Zoom background

Scrambling to find a place to host your next Zoom meeting for work can be stressful if your options are limited to a boring home office with bare walls or a messy bedroom. One effective way to address that is by using Zoom’s Virtual Background feature. It allows you to cover up your actual background with a photo or video instead. Your co-workers will still see your face, but this time, your face will be in front of a prettier or more interesting background. In this guide, we’ll show you how to change your background in Zoom step by step.

We’ll also take a look at how to add a fun filter to your video, so be sure to scroll on to check that out, too.

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Step 1: Access your Zoom settings

Zoom desktop app main screen screenshot
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To set your virtual background in Zoom, you must first access the Zoom app’s settings. To do so, open the Zoom desktop app and click on the gear-shaped Settings icon. This icon is located in the top-right corner of the app’s main menu screen. It should be just under your profile picture icon.

Step 2: Select ‘Background & Filters’ from the settings menu

Zoom background and filters settings page
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Once you’re in the Settings menu, select the Background & Filters option from the menu on the left side of the screen. This will open up a sub-section of the Settings menu on the right side of the screen. Here is where we’ll choose a background. You can also add video filters in this section, but we’ll get into that later on in this guide.

Step 3: Preview and choose your virtual background

Choosing Zoom background screenshot
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To choose a virtual background, make sure that the Virtual Backgrounds tab is selected. This way, you can browse Zoom’s limited collection of preset video and image backgrounds. If you want to preview one of these backgrounds, simply click on its corresponding thumbnail icon, and it should immediately appear in the preview screen toward the top of your window. It’s important to note that if you want to see how your virtual background will appear while you’re in a video call, you’ll need to turn on your webcam while you’re previewing these backgrounds. That way, the preview screen will show a livestream of your face in front of the background, instead of just the background itself.

You’re also not limited to using Zoom’s preset virtual backgrounds. You can add your own images and videos by clicking on the Plus Sign icon next to Video Filters. A drop-down menu will appear, giving you two options: Add Image or Add Video. Choosing either will open your PC’s File Explorer so that you can select an image or video file from your computer. Once you’ve picked a background, simply exit the Settings menu. Zoom will automatically save your selection.

It’s also worth mentioning that Zoom’s Virtual Background feature is optimized to function better with the use of a green screen. You can use the feature without a green screen, but if you have one, the quality is expected to be better. If you plan on using a green screen, be sure to tick the box next to the phrase I Have a Green Screen in the Background & Filters settings page to get the most out of your virtual background.

Zoom virtual background during meeting screenshot
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Note: You can set your virtual background while you’re in a meeting as well. To do so, click on the upward-facing Arrow within the Start (or Stop) Video Camera icon. In the menu that appears, select Choose Virtual Background. This will take you to the same Background & Filters menu from earlier.

More fun: How to add a filter to your Zoom video

Virtual backgrounds aren’t the only way to jazz up your Zoom meetings. Your backgrounds can also be adorned with a wide variety of preset Zoom filters. Here’s how to use them:

Step 1: Access the Background & Filters section of the Zoom Settings menu, as we did earlier.

Add filter to zoom video screenshot
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Step 2: Choose the Video Filters tab. At that point, a number of Zoom preset filters will pop up on your screen, featuring a variety of color and image filtering options. If you want to preview what a filter would look like on your screen, simply select the filter’s thumbnail. The preview will show up in the preview screen at the top of your window. Some image filters won’t appear unless your webcam is fully on, because the software requires your face to display correctly on screen. For example, the pizza hat filter won’t appear until it can properly place the hat on someone’s head. 

Step 3: After choosing your favorite filter, closeout of the Settings menu. The very next time you join a Zoom meeting, that filter will appear automatically on screen.

Note: Similar to virtual backgrounds, you can change or add a filter while a meeting is underway. The process is very similar. Select the upward-facing arrow in the Start (or Stop) Video Camera icon. A menu should pop up on your screen, and from there, you can select Choose Video Filter. Zoom will then take you to the same Background & Filters location in your Settings menu to pick your filter.

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