With most of the world currently on a government lock down, attending business meetings or having social catchups with our colleagues, co-workers, family and friends has for now, become virtualised! It almost seems like a distant memory when we last stood face to face and interacted with another human being – other than those we’re locked in with!

For the past few weeks, we’ve all acclimatised and almost dare I say, gotten used to attending webinars, or joining virtual meetings and hanging out with friends whilst sat at the computer staring at them through the screen (and on occasion raised a few virtual glasses and downed a few virtual pints)!

Zoom (forgetting the bad publicity and security concerns it’s had) has been a very popular application for video and audio conferencing and has seen many businesses adopt this service to host these meetings and share screen content whilst hosting presentations. Zoom has also been popular for many individuals personally who simply wish to have catch ups with family and friends. We’ve even seen Zoom weddings take place! It really is a crazy period in time but through current technology like Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, Teams and like, we’re finding a way to keep in touch with those we need to and run business in the best way we can.

One of the fun things you can do within Zoom is change your ‘virtual background’ – This is a handy little feature as you’re able to hide your messy or private background scenery and swap it out for a picture of your choice by simply uploading a picture to your virtual background gallery.

Microsoft Teams is another very popular app for providing virtual meetings (and a whole lot more) and shares several similarities to Zoom. We won’t go over all the differences and individual features of these services in this blog, but if you’re interested in knowing more about either Zoom or Microsoft Teams, please reach out to us and we’d be happy to arrange a walk through demo.

Anyways, since more and more of the population have succumbed to hosting or joining virtual meetings, it’s become a bit of a competition between Zoom and Teams as to who can outperform who, who can offer the best A/V (audio/visual) experience to the end user and who can ultimately win the most business and gain market share.

Microsoft recognised that changing the background (as perhaps an un-important a feature it may seem), happened to actually be a thing and as it transpired, was one of the most requested features we found around Teams. Initially, the platform only allowed its users to blur out the background, but you were not able to upload your own cool photos! Therefore, Zoom were winning the battle with this one and Microsoft were certainly not going to sit back and knew they had to listen to the high demand and catch up. As a result, they have now added the capability to change your background and here’s how you do it:

  • As normal, open the Teams application (this wont work on browser – yet)! Then proceed to join/start the meeting in the normal way. Before you actually join the meeting, you’d see the ‘preview screen’ where you can choose settings for how you’d like to enter the meeting.
  • Click the ‘background effect’ button shown here

Background Effect Preview

  • You will then see a selection of pre-designed backgrounds appear on the right-hand side of your screen. Simply choose an image you like and click “Apply”. The image will then appear as your background.
  • You can then click the ‘Join now’ button to enter the meeting.

Note: You can also change the background image during your meeting buy clicking the ‘three dots’ (ellipsis) button on the menu bar and choosing ‘Show Background Effects’. This will bring up the same pre-designed window where again you can choose the background.

Background Menu

But hang on a minute – We don’t want to use one of Microsoft pre-defined images – we want to use our own!

How can we upload our own custom image?

Microsoft have recently announced they are rolling out an update to Teams that will allow end users to upload a custom image. However, as it stands at this time of writing, it isn’t quite ready yet (it may well be by the time I post this blog).

But fear not. Where there’s a will, there’s a way and for the impatient ones out there, I have a little override that will allow you to get this done and here’s how you do it:

  • Close your Teams application
  • Open your File Explorer and browse to this location: %APPDATA%\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
    MAC Users:  browse to this location: ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
  • Upload your custom image to that location and BOOM – That’s it.
  • Re-open Teams and you’ll be able to select your custom image following the same steps above when selecting the ‘Show background effects’ menu.


The Microsoft Teams creators have also announced other incoming features such as a ‘raising hand’ to indicate a meeting participant has a question, along with cancelling out background noise, more webcams visible at any given time, amongst other bits to help improve the user experience. I’m looking out for them and will be sure to inform you.

Until then, share this or drop us a message if you enjoyed the read or found it useful and in the meantime, please continue to keep safe, stay at home and save lives. Wishing you all well.

Joel – Our Tech Team
@OurTechTeam on the socials