Let me give you one reason to love (or at least stop hating) quarantines. Zoom stories! Remember the old BBC Dad meme with the kid in the background? Well, if your remote work is anything like that, you’re adding lots of fun into your life.
Still, if your work life is ruled by Zoom because of a lockdown, you’ll need a bit of privacy at some point. An appealing virtual background for video conferencing is a great solution. It’s not distracting, and it hides your kids/pets/partners/home clutter. Maybe all of it. In this article, we’ll walk you through the best spots where you can hunt down Zoom backgrounds.
Background for Zoom meetings done right
The web is buzzing with virtual backgrounds, so there are lots of options for you to choose from. Stock photography platforms are adding free digital backgrounds — many of which you can edit yourself. People are sharing their backgrounds on social media (along with the stories of Zoom meetings going hilariously wrong). Even small businesses are trying to adapt to the Zoom era. A New York-based furniture company, West Elm, created their own branded collection of Zoom backgrounds. It features interiors with, well, West Elm furniture. So if you’re a business specializing in anything, maybe it’s time for you to hit Zoom backgrounds too.
How to enable Virtual Background in Zoom
In the quarantine times, Zoom needs no introduction. It’s the buzziest video conferencing tool used by people around the globe to connect. Virtual Background in Zoom is the feature enabling the display of an image or video as a background for meetings. The tool allows you to set up a custom background for individual use — so that you stand out from the crowd — as well as a shared background for a whole account, group, or Zoom Room.
To set up a virtual background for your own use:
Sign in to Zoom on the web portal
Navigate to Meeting Settings > Meeting > Virtual Background
Enable Virtual Background by toggling the Status
In case an additional verification dialog appears on the screen, hit Turn On
Log out of the Zoom desktop app, and then log back in.
Once you’ve enabled Virtual Background, you can easily activate it after joining the meeting:
Hit the upward-pointing arrow next to Start/Stop Video in the desktop app
Click “Choose a virtual background”
Hit Download if you want access to the virtual background package without a green screen. You’ll only need to download it once.
You can also play with this, juggling fun backgrounds during the meeting. In the menu bar, hit zoom.us > Preferences > Virtual Background, and switch between default or previously uploaded backgrounds.
If you want to enable virtual background in Zoom for a specific group of people or an account, you need to have admin permission for editing user groups or account settings respectively. Simply pick your option in Settings and follow the instructions described above.
To enable Virtual Background for Zoom Rooms:
Sign in to Zoom on the web portal as admin
Go to Zoom Rooms > Account Settings
Enable “Virtual Background with Greenscreen” or upload your own backgrounds.
What if Zoom Virtual Background is not working
No one wants to be a party pooper. So if you’ve agreed with your team the next meeting is going to be Star Wars, stick to the plan. Get that Jedi on your background wallpaper. Zoom is pretty easy to figure out, but sometimes small problems might ruin your setup. If Virtual Background is not working right on your Mac, here are a few major things to consider:
Make sure your Mac is running the latest version of Zoom Desktop Client (4.6 or later).
Once you toggle the Virtual Background Status to “On” in Meeting Settings, log out of Zoom and then log back in.
For optimal display, use a Zoom virtual background that matches the aspect ratio of your camera.
If your camera’s aspect ratio is 16:9, the background image should have a minimum resolution of 1280x720 pixels.
Still not up and running? Check Zoom Help Center for more insights on how to use the feature.
Where to find the best free background for Zoom
The meeting starts in 2 minutes, and you’re desperately browsing the web for a perfect Minecraft background. Sounds familiar? In the times of remote work, this is our tough reality. Luckily, many platforms are offering handy collections of free digital backgrounds you can benefit from. Let’s look at the top destinations.
Dig into Canva for customizable Zoom backgrounds. Canva is a huge graphic design platform that covers a good deal of free animated backgrounds and static images for your Zoom workspace. The best thing is you can use every background you find on Canva as a template. So if the colors are not really matching your WFH outfit, change the colors — not outfit.
Free access here.
Unsplash is universally known as a powerhouse of superb photography. If you’re a fan of pretty photos (like National-Geographic-pretty), Unsplash is a go-to place. You’ll find a dedicated section with Zoom backgrounds on the website. The collection is organized by categories, and you can pick any color and orientation. Whether it’s a cozy cafe interior captured by a talented photographer or a breathtaking landscape, download whatever matches your mood for free.
Free access here.
Another popular free stock photography resource, Getty Images, curated virtual backgrounds for your Zoom calls with colleagues. And some of them are hilarious. If you’ve been missing your office space — or any public place — you should check this out. It seems like Getty Images’ backgrounds will help you get into the ordinary chaos of daily life, again.
Free access here.
Airbnb wants you to remember the traveling vibe. As more people are forced to spend their vacations indoors, Zoom backgrounds might serve cute daily reminders about all the wonderful places you’re going to visit in the future. Airbnb’s collection of custom backgrounds covers it all, from the greenery of Bali to the rainforests of Peru.
Free access here.
As Zoom becomes the talk of the town, it’s also pretty much the talk of Twitter. Browse the feed for cool backgrounds and fun stories shared by Zoom users — many of them happen to be celebrities, your favorite brands, and people you admire. So if you’re bored with mainstream wallpapers, Twitter is the place. For a good laugh, at least.
Get awesome desktop wallpapers for consistency
Another important aspect of Zooming is screen share. And that’s where things might get out of hand. Hit the screen sharing button, and you might accidentally reveal a private desktop photo you didn’t really want your colleagues to see. Or maybe it’s all about perfectionism — having a consistent workspace with visuals that complement each other.
Wallpaper Wizard is a great app that will help you match cool backgrounds from Zoom with your desktop wallpapers. It covers an extensive gallery of free background images in HD quality, all available from your Mac desktop. Here’s how it works:
Browse through over 25k HD retina-ready backgrounds
Filter by category to find your perfect desktop wallpaper faster
Add a sequence of backgrounds to Roll, and set them to change automatically — as often as you like
Set different backgrounds for multiple displays to easily differentiate between your workspaces.
Keep your wallpapers clean and undistracting
You know what can spoil the most beautiful wallpapers? Notifications. Especially if these are unwanted notifications that keep distracting you during meetings. The app that fixes the problem magically is called PliimPRO. It gives you something that your Mac clearly misses — a presentation mode.
Before you start sharing screen in Zoom, enable PliimPRO from the menu bar, and it will hide any traces of your recent activities — such as desktop clutter or active apps. The app also hides notifications so that nothing can serve a distraction.
Go holographic with Vidrio
The problem with Zoom screen sharing is it makes your remote meetings totally humanless. Stare at someone’s screen for an hour and you’re bored to death. The solution is simple — you become the background. Keep sharing or presenting, but with your face always present. Vidrio is a Mac app that makes it possible.
Once you try it for the first time, it will probably feel like you’re entering the Iron Man movie — but it’s very real, and you can even install it for free via Setapp. Basically, the app places webcam behind your Mac’s screen so whoever is sharing screen is always visible, guiding you through the presentation. Vidrio also adds a handy opacity slider to the menu bar, which lets you put the focus where it’s needed more — Mac’s screen, your face, or somewhere in-between.
Capture your special Zoom moments with CleanShot X
Finally, while Zoom wisdom is fleeting, you need a tool that will help you capture what’s important. CleanShot X is the perfect candidate. It’s a screen capturing tool with over 50 different features, from recording and trimming video to capturing scrolling content. Here are only a few ideas on how CleanShot X could elevate your Zoom meetings:
Screenshots, the way you like them. Capture part of the screen, fullscreen, window, or even scrolling content from the menu bar. Super useful when your colleagues are presenting some complicated stuff you need to keep track of. What’s more, the app lets you annotate and edit screenshots, as well as save them to internal CleanShot X Cloud and generate quick links for sharing.
Video recordings. Time for a crucial discussion? Record video with CleanShot X to make sure you don’t miss anything important. You can edit and trim the recording once you’re done.
Hide desktop clutter. This is a life-saver. Hit “Hide Desktop Clutter” in the CleanShot X menu before you start sharing your screen. Make them think like it’s always that tidy.
Team GIFs. Global lockdown is definitely killing the fun. But there are still many ways you can connect and stay entertained as a team. Use CleanShot X to record Zoom GIFs — personalized team memes that you can share on Slack and have a blast, wherever you are.
Wallpaper Wizard, PliimPRO, Vidrio, and CleanShot X are all about Zoom convenience. And showing off (just a little bit). Make sure you don’t miss the chance to try them all for free on Setapp. It’s a desktop suite that includes 180+ curated utilities for all kinds of jobs on Mac.
We hope you’ll bookmark this article and use it instead of googling “Zoom change background.” Or maybe you found the virtual background of your dreams, and won’t change it ever again. That would be nice too. Anyways, have fun zooming!