How to Add & Change Zoom Backgrounds (Photo & Video)

Have you joined a Zoom meeting and noticed other participants with cool zoom backgrounds and wondered how to set your own virtual background? Here's how to put a background on Zoom and change your Zoom background. Whether you want a funny Zoom background or a more professional look to make it appear you're in the office, there are tons of wallpaper options to choose from. 

Related: Troubleshooting Zoom Issues: Video & Connection Problems

Let's learn how to set a Zoom background for your meeting, and how to change the background on Zoom. For more Zoom tutorials, check out our free Tip of the Day.

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How to Change Your Zoom Background to an Image or Video

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Zoom Background System Requirements

Zoom lists the requirements in depth for both the Zoom desktop client and mobile app. Zoom version and hardware requirements vary based on whether you want to have a background image or video, and whether or not you have a physical green screen. 

Recommended Setup for Zoom Background Image & Video

Some setup for a virtual background is the same regardless of whether you're going to use a still image or a video. In both cases, Zoom recommends:

  • Setting up a solid-colored background, ideally green. You can even purchase a green screen if you don't want to create your own backdrop. Note: using a green screen or solid-colored backdrop will create a cleaner effect with less blurring/light around you while using a background on your iPhone or iPad, but are essential for Zoom Desktop Client.
  • A reasonably high-quality camera.
  • Uniform lighting and color (see "How to Look Good on Zoom & Video Calls" for specific recommendations).
  • Making sure your clothing doesn't blend with your background (otherwise, your background image or video will be projected over the areas of your clothing that match your background).

Other aspects of your setup will vary, depending on whether you want a background image or video. 

Background image

If you'll be using free Zoom backgrounds or free virtual background for Zoom from a third party, aspect ratios and resolution are already taken care of. You can find lots of zoom background images for free from websites like Unsplash and Pixabay. If you want to add your own virtual background:

  • Make sure your image has a minimum resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels.
  • Zoom doesn't have size restrictions for custom virtual backgrounds, but your image should match the aspect ratio of your camera. For example, if your aspect ratio is set to 16:9, a ratio of 1280 by 720 pixels or 1920 by 1080 would work.

Background video

There are also lots of sources for free Zoom video backgrounds online, in which case you don't need to check aspect ratios and resolution. If you'd like to create your own video to use as a virtual background:

  • Your video must be in MP4 or MOV file format with a minimum resolution of 480 by 360 pixels and a maximum resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels.

Use Zoom Backgrounds & Filters on Your iPhone & iPad

We'll get into Zoom desktop later in the article but now let's go over how to use the Zoom app on your iPhone and iPad. Specifically, how to set a background for Zoom calls on your iPhone or iPad, it's quick and easy. Note: using a green screen or solid-colored backdrop will create a cleaner effect with less blurring/light around you while using a background, but Zoom backgrounds will still work without a green screen. You'll also want to know how to change your Zoom name so that your appearance and display name are just how you want them.

Open the Zoom app on your iPhone or iPad and sign in.

  1. Tap the Settings tab at the bottom of the screen, then tap General.

    general zoom app settings
  2. Tap Keep Virtual Background For.

    zoom virtual background settings
  3. Tap All meetings or Current meeting only.

    set virtual background for all meetings or just one zoom meeting
  4. Now, join a meeting, then tap the More icon.

    tap the more icon
  5. Tap Background Filters.

    tap background filters
  6. Tap Background and choose from the photo options, or tap the plus sign to add a custom background. 

    tap background
  7. Tap Select Photos to choose your background photos or Allow Access to All Photos to let Zoom access your whole Camera Roll.

    allow zoom camera roll access
  8. Tap Select Photos, then tap the Search field at the top of the screen to find a specific kind of photo.

    tap the search field to find photos for zoom background
  9. Tap the photos you'd like to have as backgrounds, then tap Done

    choose zoom background photo
  10. Confirm which photos you want by tapping them, then tap Done.

    confirm background photo selection
  11. Now, tap your custom background to turn it on!

    custom zoom background
  12. You can add a filter to your background now, or tap None to turn off the background, then tap Filters.

    tap filters to add a filter to your zoom call
  13. Tap the filter you want, then toggle on Apply to all meetings, if desired.

    add filter to zoom call

Enable Virtual Backgrounds & Videos on Your Desktop & Laptop

Here's how to enable virtual backgrounds for your account in Zoom Desktop Client.

Note: After you've changed these settings, you'll need to sign out of Zoom Desktop Client, then sign back in for your backgrounds to take effect. 

  1. Sign in to Zoom desktop client as usual.
  2. Click your profile picture, then click Settings.

    zoom settings
  3. Scroll down to In Meeting (Advanced), toggle on Virtual background, and check Allow use of videos for virtual backgrounds.

    allow backgrounds in zoom meetings
  4. If these options are grayed out, you'll need to contact your Zoom administrator to unlock them.

How to Use Zoom Backgrounds, Videos & Filters on Your Computer

  1. Start or join a Zoom meeting as usual, making sure to choose With Video On when the option pops up.
  2. Tap the small arrow icon next to Stop Video at the bottom of your screen, and select Choose Virtual Background or Choose Video Filter.

    choose virtual background or video filter
  3. Tap Blur, then select Download when asked if you'd like to Download Smart Video Package.

    download smart background package
  4. Now, click the plus icon and decide whether to add an image or video.

    add image or video as background to zoom meeting
  5. Choose your image or video from Downloads, Desktop, Photos, or another application.
  6. Tap your chosen picture or video, then tap Open.

    choose image or video
  7. Now, you'll be able to select your video or picture to use as your background when you return to the Virtual Backgrounds menu.
  8. To choose a Video Filter, tap the Video Filters option, then tap your selection.

    zoom video filter
  9. Tap Studio Effects at the bottom of the filter options to open Studio Effects options. 

    choose studio effects
  10. Tap Reset to start over and Close when finished with your selections.
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Author Details

Leanne Hays's picture

Author Details

Leanne Hays

Leanne Hays has over a dozen years of experience writing for online publications. As a Feature Writer for iPhone Life, she has authored hundreds of how-to, Apple news, and gear review articles, as well as a comprehensive Photos App guide. Leanne holds degrees in education and science and loves troubleshooting and repair. This combination makes her a perfect fit as manager of our Ask an Expert service, which helps iPhone Life Insiders with Apple hardware and software issues.
In off-work hours, Leanne is a mother of two, homesteader, audiobook fanatic, musician, and learning enthusiast.