Finally, it’s here! After many months, if not years, of posts on the Teams User Voice, comments at expos and conferences, and emails, the Teams product group have bought backgrounds into Teams video calling.
On the surface it seems like a purely cosmetic change, however with the dramatic growth in work from home, how many of those key meetings are pivoting from the boardroom or local cafe to a purely online experience? How do you make your presentation appear more professional? What about the mess that the kids have left in the room behind you or that load of washing you haven’t gotten to putting away? Well now you can hide it.
The new feature went into general availability earlier this month. On the surface, it supports 24 unique images alongside an option to simply blur your background for a simpler appearance.
It works across platform too, both Mac and Windows clients can edit their backgrounds whilst unfortunately Android and iOS mobile clients aren’t yet given the option.
To enable a background, during a call select the context menu … and click Show Background Effects. A menu will appear on the right hand side, select your desired image or effect and use Apply to commit your change.
Still not quite there though..
Sadly, there is no support for video or GIF formats, and the process to use your own image is far from user-friendly, however it can be done. Both JPG and PNG formats are supported, with files of 6MB working too, so those weekend walk snaps of the forest have another use.
On a Windows PC, copy your image to %appdata%\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads. The next time you go to use a background effect, your custom image will appear there. And no, you don’t need to relaunch the application.
Likewise, on a Mac the directory is /users/username/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads.
It’s certainly about time this feature showed its face, however the user experience for custom images certainly needs improvement. The video backgrounds are something I personally can live without – after all, is it not just another distraction during a call?