While Zoom has had its problems — quite a few problems, actually — the videoconferencing app remains popular for its ease of use and features such as the ability to pop in different backgrounds. Now, Microsoft has added that ability to its own Teams office communications app.
Teams is currently a business application; if you try to sign up and choose the option to use it for “Friends and Family,” you’ll be directed to Skype. But if you are using it as a business tool — or if your company is using it — then it’s now much easier to hide your messy home office.
- Start or join a Teams video meeting using the Windows or Mac application. (This feature isn’t available on the web version.)
- Click on the three dots (the advanced features icon)
- Select “Show background effects.” One note here: the background effects feature was still rolling out when this was being written, so if you don’t see that menu item, you may have to settle for “Blur background,” which has been available for some time. But just be patient — you should get it soon.
- Choose from the variety of backgrounds that will appear on the right side of your screen. Click on “Preview” if you want to see what your screen will look like before anybody else does; otherwise, click on “Apply.”
And that’s it! I counted 24 different background scenes when I tested the feature. Some of them are businesslike, showing offices of various types:
Other backgrounds are more fanciful.
And finally, if you don’t want to use a false background but need to hide the mess behind you, you can still simply blur out the background.
According to Microsoft, you will be able to upload your own custom designs at some point in the future. The ability to create backgrounds has started a small avalanche of imaginative Zoom designs; it will be interesting to find out what types of contributions from independent creators Team will inspire.
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