Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Spice Up Your Online Meeting Look with Backgrounds from the Buzz (and Others)


Many things have changed in our world recently…but for many of us, one of the biggest surprises of the COVID quarantine may be that although we’re staying home as much as possible, we’re not actually attending any fewer meetings than we used to.  In fact, some of us seem to be attending even more meetings these days, if you count work, family, and social gatherings…many of which have gone online, often using Zoom.

If you’re like me, though, you may already be super tired of watching yourself sitting in front of the same old boring wall in your same old home office, dining room, bedroom or other every. single. meeting…day in and day out. And you may be wishing that if you can’t actually move somewhere more interesting for your next online gathering, you could at least look like you’re chiming in from somewhere spiffier than the dining room table.

In fact, you may have also noticed that some of your friends are already doing that – with electronic meeting backgrounds that include either stock options from Zoom, or some even more stunning natural vistas, fascinating interior spaces, or fun visual patterns…real or abstract.

So we’d like to help you spice up your digital presence, and join that wonderful new world of eclectic electronic meeting backgrounds.  We’ve found some great background collections that are free to download and use (some of them wonderfully local and some from other worlds entirely), and we we made a few of our own, too.


How to Customize Your Zoom Background

First, let’s talk about how to customize your Zoom background, since it’s not immediately obvious once you’ve joined a Zoom meeting.  Here are the steps:

Find the Zoom application, open it and make sure you’re logged in.  Note that the application opens automatically any time you’re in a Zoom meeting…

…or you can download it from the Resources section of if you’re not currently in a meeting.



Once the application is installed on your device, you can open it and change your settings at any time, whether or not you’re in a meeting.  And once you’re in the Zoom app, click on your photo…



…and then on Settings (Windows) or Preferences (Mac).



In the Settings menu, click on Virtual Background…



…and you’ll see several stock images available in the “Choose Virtual Background” section.



At this point, before selecting one of those library images, it’s important to notice that the “I Have a Green Screen” box at the bottom of the window is checked by default (see below).  If you leave this box checked, you will need to be sitting against a flat, solid-colored background to be able to use any of the available background images.  If you don’t normally sit against a flat, solid-colored background while using Zoom, however (and most of us don’t), then uncheck the box and you should be able to replace whatever background you do sit in front of with a new image.


Be sure to UNCHECK the “I have a green screen” box if you don’t usually sit in front of a flat, solid-colored background.


Please NOTE, however, that  unchecking the box only works if you have a computer/processor that is less than about four years old. If you uncheck the box, and your computer is too old, you’ll get a notice that your “Computer doesn’t meet requirements“…and, yes, sadly, you’ll be out of luck for the rest of this tutorial.



Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way – both computers I use most frequently, one desktop and one laptop, have processors too old to work with this feature, so I have not been able to use any of the awesome backgrounds I’ve been digging up on those computers.  (So if you’re in the same situation, and have been contemplating updating your meeting hardware, this might be the excuse you need to do so.)

For the lucky, and likely, majority of you with newer computers, however, once the green screen box is unchecked, you’re ready to move on to the real fun.

First, for the very easiest image upgrade, choose one of the stock images Zoom provides to use for your new background.


Zoom’s stock images, plus a few I added myself.


If none of the stock images light your fire, however (or if you’ve already seen too many people using them and want to do even more to express your own unique self), then it’s time to work your own magic and upload your own images.

To do that, just check the little plus sign next to the available images, navigate to a photo or video stored on your computer, and upload it.



Then just select select the new image from the library and you’ll be good to go.  Also, you can upload as many new images as you want, and change your background any time you like, depending on your mood, the meeting context, or whatever strikes your fancy.


Some Fun Meeting Background Collections

Now that you know how to change and/or upload new backgrounds to Zoom (or a similar meeting platform), how do you find good backgrounds? Well, you can always search Google for “Zoom backgrounds” or “meeting backgrounds”…and these days you’ll find hundreds of options.  Here are some we’re particularly partial to.

First, for local interest, The Hollywood Heritage Museum has posted a collection of meeting background images provided by their Preservation Resources Center and taken from historic Hollywood postcards, street scenes, and shots of their own museum building.


Hollywood Heritage image.


Next, Discover LA has a whole series of absolutely gorgeous “Magic Hour” backgrounds (11 stills and five videos) taken at sunset at iconic locations around Los Angeles.


From Discover LA’s “Magic Hour” collection


The Huntington Museum has backgrounds featuring both their gardens and art.


Chinese Garden at the Huntington


The LA Times has a nice set of five LA-centric backgrounds


Iconic Hollywood


…and another collection of great scenes from around California and Oregon.


Crater Lake, OR


And many of the earth’s other natural wonders are on display in backgrounds from National Geographic.



But if you’re tired of of this old planet and would prefer a galaxy far, far away, the official site has a huge collection of 32 Star Wars-themed backgrounds.



Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli has 16 fantasy world backgrounds  (or go here if you prefer descriptions in English) from Miyazaki’s best-loved animated movies.



And the Marvel Universe is well represented, too, with 13 of its own backgrounds.



Finally, if you just can’t decide, there are also sites that collect backgrounds from lots of different sources, to create really huge collections.  For example, see the offerings at Tom’s Guide (which include, among many others, some famous TV sets)…


Kitchen from “The Golden Girls”


…and Unsplash, which includes venues and environments far beyond the sites we mentioned above, including apartments and other building interiors (so if you’re tired of your own living, dining room, or library, you can sit in someone else’s for a while), as well as restaurants, famous world travel destinations and many, many more.



Buzz Backgrounds

But what kind of Larchmont and larger local area boosters would we be if we didn’t offer you something a bit closer to home than any of the options above?  So, of course, yes, we’ve prepared a few that we’re happy to share.  (Just right-click to download and save any image.)



How to Make Your Own Electronic Meeting Backgrounds

But as much fun as other people’s images are, it might be even more fulfilling to make your own meeting backgrounds using your own photos or art (or even your children’s artworks).  According to Zoom’s helpful instructions, “There are no size restrictions when adding your own virtual backgrounds, but we recommend cropping the image to match the aspect ratio of your camera before uploading it. Example: If your camera is set to 16:9, an image of 1280 pixels by 720 px or 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels would work well.”  So give it a try and see how it goes!


Not a Background, But…

Finally, while not a background, it’s also worth noting, if you haven’t found it already, that Zoom also offers a handy “Touch Up My Appearance” filter.  Just check the box in the Video section of the Settings.  It’s nothing major, but it softens your image a bit and removes harsh lines.



So give it a try, upload some great new backgrounds…and get a fresh start on upping your meeting game!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Latest Articles

.printfriendly { padding: 0 0 60px 50px; }