Microsoft Teams Background: How to change background, add your own, and download free images

One of the most popular collaborating applications on the planet, Microsoft Teams, is widely lauded for its easy-to-master, intuitive UI and user-friendly features. Microsoft has taken great care in creating an application that caters to all your business needs, and that alone could’ve easily helped it become one of the best apps in the segment. Microsoft, however, is far from being complacent.

Microsoft Teams takes great pride in making you or your organization appear more professional. And avoiding accidental background bloopers, while working from home, is an absolute necessity. So, to make sure there is nothing embarrassing or distracting going on when you’re on a conference call, Microsoft lets you blur the background or choose a custom background.

Can you have a custom background in Microsoft Teams

Yes, finally!

Via an update released on April 9th, Microsoft Teams now lets you choose a custom background for your meeting. The option is part of the ‘Background effects’ menu. See the ‘How To’ section below to see how to add a custom background to your Microsoft Teams meeting.

Update [July 17, 2020]: Microsoft has made it easier to add a custom background inside Teams as users will be able to upload their own images as background from within the Background Effects window.

Background Effects

Microsoft has added a new feature called Background Effects in its Teams software that lets you choose an image as background. But you can’t use a background of your choice yet, let alone us a video as background. That’s sad, because we know you love custom backgrounds of your own based on your interest, but at least this is a start.

Microsoft says they are working on allowing you to select your own image as background in the future.

How to change a background in Microsoft Teams?

Before we learn how to add new background, it’s important to know how to apply a background inside a Microsoft Teams meeting.

Update [August 18, 2020]: Microsoft has rolled out an update to Teams that makes sure that when a background effect is applied, the same effect will stay enabled until it’s changed. This means that your new background will persist for all your future meetings until you change it again yourself.

Here’s how to select an already available background on your Microsoft Teams meeting.

Step 1: Join a meeting. You can start the meeting with the Blur effect applied, BTW.

Step 2: While in the meeting, click the 3-dot menu button in the bottom bar.

Step 3: Now, click background effects.

Step 4: You will get the ‘Background settings’ menu in the right pane. It has a list of custom backgrounds as well as the Blur option. Click on the background to select it, and then click on the Preview button at the bottom of the right pane to get a preview of that background. You can try different backgrounds that are listed here, depending on what you think suits your meetings best.

Step 5: To apply the background, make sure you have selected it, and then click on the Apply button.

Can I add a background to Microsoft Teams?

Well, yes. See the next section on how to do that easily once you have the custom backgrounds feature enabled.

How to add a personalized background to Microsoft Teams

You can use your own custom background on Teams in two ways – one if you have the particular option in Microsoft Teams desktop client and the other if such an option isn’t available on your Teams app.

Method #1: From directly within Teams desktop client

To add a custom background to Microsoft Teams easily, join a Teams meeting and click on the 3-dot button inside the meeting controls at the bottom. When a menu appears, select ‘Show Background Effects’ from the options.

When the ‘Background Settings’ sidebar pops up from the right-hand side, click on the ‘+ Add new’ button and select an image from your library that you want to set as your background for meetings.

Your selected image will be available for you to be applied inside the ‘Background Settings’ sidebar and you can apply it to install the background and set it as your default background for your meetings inside Teams.

Method #2: Adding images to the Uploads folder manually

If Microsoft doesn’t offer you the option to let you add your own custom background for meetings, then the following method will help you manually set a custom background.

How to add a custom background in Microsoft Teams quickly

Step 1: Navigate to the Uploads directory of Microsoft Teams on your PC:

  • For macOS: Go to Users > (username) > Library > Application > Support > Microsoft > Teams > Backgrounds> Uploads
    (Shortcut: copy this text to the address and hit the enter key: ~/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads)
  • For Windows: Go to C Drive (or where Windows is installed), then go to Users > (username) > AppData > Roaming > Microsoft > Teams > Backgrounds > Uploads
    (Shortcut: copy this text to the address and hit the enter key: %appdata%\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads)

Step 2: Copy your favorite images that you wish to use as background in your Microsoft Teams meetings to the ‘Uploads’ folder and close the File Explorer.

Step 3: Open the Microsoft Teams app on your PC. Initiate a video call or meeting. Click on the ‘3-dot’ menu button in the calling bar at the bottom and then click on ‘Show background effects’.

Step 4: This will load the backgrounds on the right side of the screen. The backgrounds you copied to the Uploads directory above on your Windows PC or Mac will also be available there. You may need to scroll down to find your own background. Click on the background to select it, and then click the Apply button to use it as your custom background.

Here are some Microsoft Teams backgrounds you can download

We have a ton of free background images that you can use as a custom background for your Microsoft Teams meeting. Check out the links below:

Microsoft Teams custom background overview video

Check out this video by Microsoft Teams’ Mike Tholfsen, Product Manager on the #MicrosoftEDU team, that gives you a good overview of the feature.

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How to blur the background in Teams video call

Microsoft is all about ease of use, and this feature isn’t an anomaly. There are two ways you can enable background blur.

Before joining the call

Before you join a Microsoft Teams conference, you can toggle in background blur, making sure you’re going in prepared.

To do so, simply tap on the Video Blur Toggle located on the final screen before your conference call connects.

During a call

You can, of course, also opt to toggle in background blur while you’re on a video conference. Apart from the conventional click-and-select, there’s a handy keyboard shortcut.

Keyboard shortcut

Press  CTRL+Shift+P  to toggle on background blurring.

The conventional way to blur background

Step 1: While on a video call, click on the Ellipsis (vertical three-dot) icon. Then click on Show background effects. (There used to be a ‘Blur my background’ option right here before Microsoft introduced custom background feature. Now, Blur has been grouped with custom backgrounds only).

Step 2: You will get the ‘Background settings’ menu in the right pane. It has a list of custom backgrounds as well as the Blur option.

Step 3: Click on the Blur option (right on the top) to select it, and then click on the Preview button at the bottom of the right pane to get a preview of it on your video. Click Apply to get the blur effect on your video.

Your background will be blurred instantly.

Why background blur is not working for me on Microsoft Teams

Special note: Background blur is an AI-driven feature that uses AVX2 to recognize your facial outlines. So, if you have a decade-old PC or tablet, chances are, background blur won’t work as advertised.



A mediocre engineer hoping to do something extraordinary with his pen (well, keyboard). Loves Pink Floyd, lives football, and is always up for a cup of Americano.