How to Change Virtual Backgrounds on Zoom and Other Apps

Bill Mount

Beware of the blur Some things to look out for. Blur, as Microsoft and Google have conceived it, may make the garbage in the background disappear, but the fuzziness is so strong that you might look like an alien from an alternate universe. And if you move your hands, it […]


Beware of the blur

Some things to look out for.

Blur, as Microsoft and Google have conceived it, may make the garbage in the background disappear, but the fuzziness is so strong that you might look like an alien from an alternate universe. And if you move your hands, it might look like you have no fingers, because the software has blurred them as well.

Finding the right background will look more pleasing to your fellow meeting participants. What should you look for? A background that doesn’t get in the way.

If you’ve got a bridge in your background, make sure its towers or cables aren’t coming out of your head. Ditto for trees and other similar objects. Position yourself so they are to the side.

Practice lighting, filters

You don’t have to be in a meeting to see how you look. You can practice in Zoom and other programs by clicking to start a meeting but then lining up your image and lighting before other callers join you.

Backgrounds look best when you’re illuminated, and you can avoid the blurring of your hands and having a halo around you. This can be as simple as turning on a couple of inexpensive lamps.

One big no-no: Never face the camera with a window behind you. The camera will adjust for the light coming from the window and not you. Turn around and be lit by window light.

Zoom also has a big collection of filters you can use to do everything from adding a beard, mustache and wild eyebrows to your face to putting your face into a TV set or movie screen. One of the best filter options is the second choice, located next to None. It’s called Boost, and it simply darkens the background to put more focus on you. Highly recommended.

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