How to Use a Custom Background with Zoom

Virtual Background Zoom Cover

Millions of people have started using Zoom for video conferencing during the pandemic. Many have taken advantage of the custom background feature that allows you to change your video background from the room behind you to literally anything you want. You can choose from a set of pre-set backgrounds or customize and upload your own. This can vary from using a photo of Mars to a bookshelf behind you – the possibilities are literally endless.

The Zoom custom background feature usually works pretty well. You don’t need an expensive green screen setup to get it to work. As long as it can differentiate between your facial features and the background behind you, it will work well. Here is how you can set a custom background in Zoom.


Zoom has minimum specification requirements your system will need to meet in order to use the virtual background feature. It does requires a relatively powerful CPU for it to work, especially when you are not using a green screen. The specification requirements are listed on Zoom’s support website.

Set a Virtual Background on Your Desktop

1. Open the Zoom app on your PC / Mac.

2. Click on the Settings icon in the top-right corner. If you can’t see it, click on your profile in the top-right corner and click on Settings.

Virtual Background Zoom Settings Profile

3. On the left menu, click on Virtual Background.

4. You’ll see a few default background options provided by Zoom. This includes an outer space background and blades of grass. You can choose one of these by simply clicking on it, and your background will automatically change.

If you want to use a custom background photo or video, click on the “+” icon in the top-right corner, and you’ll see two options: “Choose Photo” and “Choose Video.”

Virtual Background Zoom Add Image

Once you choose the photo/video from your system, you’ll see the option to select it alongside the other pictures.

Virtual Background Zoom Set Background

You can also tick the option for “I have a physical green screen” if you have one placed behind you.

5. To get rid of any photos / videos you upload, tap the X in the top-right corner of the media.

Set a Virtual Background on Your Mobile App

Note: you need to be in a meeting to set your virtual background on the mobile app.

1. In the Zoom app, tap the three dots at the bottom right of the screen to open the More menu.

Virtual Background Zoom More

2. Select Virtual Background.

Virtual Background Zoom Virtual Background

3. Select from the default option or upload your own from your Camera Roll / Gallery.

Virtual Background Zoom Add

That’s it! You can now use the Custom background feature during your Zoom meetings. While using a custom background, ensure that your feed isn’t interrupted and that you don’t move much in the screen. If you rock on your chair or someone else comes into your camera frame during the call, this may cause some breaks in the background. While they’ll resolve quickly, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Touch Up My Appearance

Another feature you can use alongside the Custom Background feature is “Touch Up Appearance” offered by Zoom. In other words, this is a beauty filter offered by Zoom. It’s a softening filter, like you’d find on Instagram, Snapchat or your phone’s selfie camera. The camera softens your features, which usually makes for a more aesthetically pleasing look during your video call.

To turn it on, navigate to “Settings -> Video Settings” and check the box for “Touch Up My Appearance.”

Virtual Background Zoom Touch Up

You should see the difference in the preview pane once you turn it on.

If you’re a frequent Zoom user and would like to use the platform more efficiently, be sure to check out our list of essential Zoom features you should know and use for better meetings.

Shujaa Imran
Shujaa Imran

Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier's resident Mac tutorial writer. He's currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube

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