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Skype takes on Zoom with custom backgrounds for video calls

Microsoft also brought the feature to Teams this month.
Kris Holt, @krisholt
April 22, 2020
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Back view of business woman talking to her colleagues about business plan in video conference. Multiethnic business team using laptop for a online meeting in video call. Group of businessmen and businesswomen smart working from home.
Ridofranz via Getty Images

Whether you’re using Zoom, Houseparty, Group FaceTime or another app, many of us are hopping into video calls much more often in the current climate. You might have any number of reasons for choosing one of these apps over another, and Skype may be hoping to draw people in by taking a leaf out of Zoom’s playbook.

You can now add custom backgrounds to your desktop calls in the latest version of Skype on Windows, Mac, Linux and the web. Head over to the Audio & Video settings and you can make it seem as though you’re dialing in from the likes of Pride Rock or the Iron Throne instead of your couch -- even if you don’t have a green screen.

The custom backgrounds don’t work on the Microsoft Store version of the app, however. You’ll need to grab the old-school .exe file from the Skype website or use the web version of the service on Windows 10.

Skype already offered the option to blur backgrounds during video calls. So, as Thurrott suggests, it might not have taken too much more work to make the background images function. Microsoft also added support for custom backgrounds to Teams earlier this month.

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