Millions of people have taken to the Zoom video chat app to work and study from home during this coronavirus pandemic. And many have discovered a fun little setting that transforms your video background from the room behind you to outer space or the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge. You can even upload a photo to customize your own.
For the most part, Zoom — which is seeing a tremendous rise in use as a result of states mandating shelter-in-place and other measures — will hold onto your background image pretty well, making for a fun way to express yourself, or hide the cluttered room behind you. After all, you may want participants to focus on you, rather than your curio collection.
Just be aware that if you tend to gesture a lot or rock back in your chair, or a wayward pup or child lands on your lap during your call, your caller will notice breaks in the background. Don’t worry, they’ll resolve shortly.
Read more: 7 free video chat apps to use if you’re social distancing
Change your Zoom background on the desktop app
1. In the Zoom app, click your profile in the top right corner, and click Settings.
2. On the menu to the left, click Virtual Background.
3. You’ll see a few default background options provided by Zoom, including an outer space scene or blades of grass. You can choose one of those by clicking on it, and it will automatically change your screen as well. There’s also an option for if you have a green screen and want to use that.
4. If you want to upload a photo to use as your background, on the same Virtual Background Page, click the + icon next to where it says Choose Virtual Background. A box will pop up allowing you to upload a photo from your computer. Click on the one you want, and it will appear alongside the other pictures as an option for you to choose from.
5. To get rid of any photos you upload, tap the X in their top left corner.
Change your Zoom background on the mobile app
1. When you log into your account and join a meeting, tap the three dots at the bottom right of the screen to open the More menu.
2. Tap Virtual Background.
3. Select a background from the default options, or upload your own.
Read more: Ultimate webcam tips: How to look and sound great online
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Another Zoom tip: Add a beauty filter
You’ve probably heard all of the work from home advice by now — wake up on time, shower, get dressed like it’s a day at the office. But if it’s one of those days where you don’t think you’re looking your best, Zoom has an answer: a feature called Touch Up My Appearance. Basically, it’s a softening filter, like you’d find on Instagram, FaceTune or your phone’s selfie camera.
To turn it on, click the up arrow next to Start Video. Click Video Settings, and under My Video, check the box for Touch Up My Appearance. That’s it!
For more tips to help get you through social distancing and self-quarantine, check out whether you should use Zoom or Skype for working from home, our guide to everything you need to stay healthy and entertained while practicing social distancing, and all of the practical tips to help avoid coronavirus when you leave the house.