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Use custom backgrounds in Microsoft Teams

Add a little personality to your Teams meeting with custom background images.
Published on
April 14, 2020

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Microsoft recently announced that custom backgrounds for Teams meetings is generally available for users worldwide, a bit ahead of their original (updated) schedule.

Update: As of June 12, 2020, custom backgrounds are fully supported in Teams.

To add a custom background behind you when you're in a Teams meeting:

  1. From the meeting tool bar, click the ellipses > Show background effects.
  2. Click + Add new. (A screenshot is shown below.)
  3. Upload the image you'd like to use (make sure it's a large image, greater than 1500 px wide, for example).

That should be it! Here's more information on the rollout of this feature. If you're interested in seeing the earlier method for getting a custom background before the + Add new button was added, be sure to scroll down.

Original blog text starts here

While this helps bring it closer to feature parity with Zoom, the uber-popular video calling tool, it’s not quite there yet at this point. The main reason is because you’re limited to the background images that Microsoft provides.

Or so it would seem. It turns out you can simply add images to a hard-to-find folder on your Windows or macOS device to enable that background as an option for yourself. Once you add the image to the folder, you should see it in your list of backgrounds during your meetings in Teams.

Limit to jpg and png; gifs will not be animated. You and your background image will show up mirrored in the meeting launch and self view. This is a standard setup for all video conferencing tools (FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts) because we as humans are used to seeing ourselves in a mirror, not straight on. It’s simply meant to make you feel comfortable and, frankly, not distract you when in your meeting. Everyone else will see you and your background as normal, not mirrored.

I can bring a little bit of my former home in paradise to my meetings if I please.

Finding the folder

The folder paths are listed below. Any of these folders could be hidden, so you may have to toggle a setting to display hidden folders. If you don’t see the folder, make sure you’ve updated Teams to the most recent version; it should theoretically create the folder for you.

Windows

Based on a lot of feedback online, it looks like this folder could be in one of multiple places:

C:\Users\<your username>\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
C:\Users\<your username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
C:\Users\<your username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\uploads

macOS

When I did this on my Mac, the Library folder was hidden. A search in Finder got me to the ultimate folder. Though if you want to use the path below, open Finder and click GoTo a Folder...

/users/<your username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads

Wrap up

So, now that you finally have backgrounds, it’s time to get back to work!Backgrounds aren’t going to make or break your meeting experience unless you’re a teacher working with an elementary school class. If you ask me, they’re kind of a distraction. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

But, if you’ve been waiting for this, play around in your next project update call, staff meeting, or executive briefing, make a splash for 2–4 minutes, get bored, then move on to agenda item number one! 🙃

Why re-invent the wheel?

The internet is having fun with creating some excellent backgrounds to show off your sense of humor, favorite movies and TV shows, hilarious memes, and inspiring locations. Here’s a small sampling.

Matt Wade
Matt is an engineer-turned-IT nerd and Microsoft MVP. His career began in the nuclear power design field and ended up in SharePoint adoption, pretty much by mistake. He’s best known for his SharePoint and Office 365 infographics and advocating AI and chatbots to automate business workloads.

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