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Make Your Own Zoom Background

Learn to create your own Zoom backgrounds in Photoshop


How to add a background to your Zoom calls

Do you want to add a virtual background to your Zoom calls? First you'll need to check your tech requirements. The link to Zoom's Hardware Specifications (on the side) will help you check your hardware and software specifications to make sure you can use virtual backgrounds on Zoom.

As long as you meet all the tech requirements, finding, editing, and using virtual backgrounds is easy! This guide will show you how to find images to use as-is, and how to do some basic to intermediate editing. Do you want to make an animated background from a still image or a video? Make an appointment with a member of the Studio team using the link on the side!

Custom Virtual Backgrounds from Still Images

Image Requirements

Zoom does not have any minimum requirements for a virtual background image, but here are some suggestions:

  • Use an image that is at least 1280 by 720 pixels.
  • Use an image that has the same aspect ratio as your camera, if you know it.
  • If you find an image that is larger than 1920x1080 pixels, you can crop it for best results.

Before you can start using a virtual background, you need to enable virtual backgrounds in your Zoom account. 

Log in to Zoom

  1. Log in to your Zoom account
    • Through the Zoom website:
      1. Click the link below, then click "Create or Edit Account."
      2. You will go to the UT System CAS login. Log in with your UTC ID and password. You will need to log in using Duo Two-Factor Authentication.

If you already have Zoom downloaded to your computer, you can also log in through the Zoom desktop client:

  1. Open the Zoom desktop client.
  2. Click the Gear icon to open the Settings window. The Gear icon is located in the top-right corner of the desktop client and is labeled Settings.
  3. The settings window will open. Click the "View More Settings" link to go to the settings page on the Zoom website.

Enable Virtual Backgrounds

  1. Once you're logged in, click Settings. Then click "In Meeting (Advanced)."
  2. In the advanced meeting settings, find the Virtual Background setting and make sure the toggle icon is set to on (blue). Click Save.

Make sure your virtual background in the "In Meeting (Advanced)" Zoom settings is turned on.

Start Using Virtual Backgrounds

Upload images in your Zoom desktop client to start using a virtual background.

  1. Open Zoom.
  2. Click the gear icon to open Settings.
  3. Click "Background & Filters."
  4. Zoom automatically adds several virtual background images, but you can upload your own image by clicking the plus sign icon. Select Add Image, then find your image on your computer.
  5. Select the image and click Upload. 

Basic Image Editing

These basic editing tools can help you get your image ready to be a Zoom background. If you're brand new to Photoshop, these can be a good way to explore Photoshop and get comfortable before you start doing some more intermediate editing.

Resize an image

If your image is too big, you can easily resize it in Photoshop:

  1. Open the image in Photoshop.
  2. Open the Image menu, and select Image Size.
  3. Change the size of your image in the pop-up window. 1920 pixels wide by 1080 pixels high is a good size to use for your Zoom background.

You can also make a smaller image larger using the same steps, but keep in mind that making a smaller image larger can make it look blurry or pixelated.

Crop an image

For the best Zoom background results, your image should be in landscape orientation. If your image is oriented vertically or square, or if you want to only use part of the image, you can crop it.

  1. Open the image in Photoshop.
  2. Select the Crop tool.
  3. In the Crop toolbar, choose “16 : 9” from the dropdown menu. You can drag the image around the canvas to make sure you’re cropping it to just the part you want.
  4. When you have the image where you want it, click the check mark in the toolbar.

Saving your project

When you’re done editing your image, you’ll need to save it. You can save your image as a Photoshop document so that you can come back and edit it later, but you’ll need to save it as an image file to use it as your Zoom background.

To save your Photoshop project, open the File menu and click Save. Give your project and a name and choose where to save it, then click save.

To save your project as an image file that you can use with Zoom:

  1. Go to the File menu and open the Export sub-menu. 
  2. Click “Export As.”
  3. In the window that opens, select the file type (use a .JPG or .PNG for Zoom) and check your image size. Click Export.

Now you can upload your image as your Zoom background.

Intermediate Image Editing

This section will cover using more than one layer in Photoshop and how to mask a layer for your Zoom background. The main tools you will need to use are the Brush tool or Lasso tool.

Import another image

With your main background image file already open, you can include another image in Photoshop:

  1. Go to File > Place Embedded...
  2. Select the image you want to add.
  3. Adjust the size of the image while it is in Transform mode.

Holding Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac) will change scaling to be centered.

Apply layer mask

After selecting the layer you want to apply a mask to, you will need to click on the Add Mask button at the bottom of the Layers panel.

The layer that has the mask applied to it will have a link symbol and a new thumbnail. With the mask selected, you can use grayscale, black, or white to edit the image such as removing the surrounding background from the current layer.

Masking layer and feathering

You can make more precise selections with the Lasso tool. After outlining the main section, select the negative space and fill it with black the Bucket tool.

Edges on the masked layer may look jagged. To edit this, go to Feathering and make adjustments as necessary.

Virtual Background Requirements

Zoom Requirements

To add a background image in Zoom, you need to make sure that your device meets the hardware requirements for a background image. You will also need to make sure you're running an up-to-date version of Zoom. In order to both use and see virtual backgrounds, you need to be using at least version 5.1.1 of Zoom.

Setup Recommendations

For the best possible virtual background sit in front of a blank, solid-colored wall. You don't need a green screen, but if the area behind you is very busy you may have problems getting the virtual background to display the way you want it to. You should also try to avoid wearing a shirt that is the same color as your background.

Accessing Photoshop

Photoshop (and other Adobe products) are available on Studio computers. If you aren't able to come to the Studio, there are other tools you can use to make your own virtual backgrounds. 

Finding Images

You'll need a large (1920x1080 pixels) and high quality image to make it your Zoom background. Stock photo websites are a great way to find large, high quality, and free images. You can use the images as-is, or you can edit them in Photoshop to make them your own. Try using these sites to find images or videos.

Here are some other places where you can find ready-to-use Zoom backgrounds.

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