There’s little I enjoy more than a the well-executed use of a silly background in a video chat. While this quirky feature used to be exclusive to Zoom, more apps are integrating the functionality—including, recently, Microsoft Teams, and now, Microsoft’s own Skype app.
You can play with custom backgrounds on the Windows or macOS versions of Skype, provided you first make sure you’ve updated to the latest version of the app (188.8.131.52). It’s easy, and it doesn’t take very long to do. One caveat for users of the Windows 10 app version of Skype—the one you downloaded from the Windows Store: You’ll need to switch to the version you can download from Skype’s website in order to use the new custom background feature (at least as of this writing).
Once you’re ready, hop into a Skype video session and click on the triple-dot “More” icon in the lower-right corner. You’ll see two options pop up: the classic “Audio and video settings” and new “Choose background effect.” You can click either one, as they both take you to the same place:
Select “Blur” for Skype’s traditional background effect, which simply makes your background hazy and unremarkable. If you’d rather plop yourself on an island or into the middle of a favourite movie location, click “Add image” and search for an image on your computer you’d like to use:
And, yes, even though you’ll be seeing your own image mirrored, anyone else on your call will see it normally. Such is a quirk of Skype, and there’s no setting that lets you flip the image of yourself on your own screen.