Forget trying to find the perfect desktop wallpaper. Now that everyone’s using Zoom—or one of the many Zoom alternatives—it’s all about picking the right virtual background. Swapping in one of Zoom’s built-in backgrounds might’ve elicited a chuckle back when teleconferencing was a new thing, but now that we’re all work-from-home pros, the real power move is uploading your own custom backgrounds. We’ll give you tips on finding the best-quality backgrounds out there, plus highlight some resources where you can download some for free.
Also, our previous guide on creating your own custom Zoom background will show you how to import your new images into Zoom if you’re not sure how.
Know Zoom’s image requirements
Just about any image you download off Google Image Search can be used as a virtual background if it meets Zoom’s 5MB file size limit, but if you’re really trying to sell the illusion you’re somewhere else besides your living room or home office, you’ll need to refine your search criteria.
First off, Zoom backgrounds can be JPG/JPEG, GIF, or PNG images. Zoom doesn’t support backgrounds with transparency, however, and will fill them in with a solid white when uploaded.
As for sizing, Zoom backgrounds display in 16:9 and you’ll want to find images that fit those dimensions perfectly—otherwise Zoom adds black bars around the image. Aim for images with 1920x180 resolution for the best-looking results, which is the highest resolution Zoom supports. PNGs will probably be the highest-quality images you’ll find, but they’re also larger files than JPEGs and can easily exceed Zoom’s 5MB limit.
Where to find Zoom backgrounds
If you don’t want to comb through Google Image results, there are a few places where you can find perfectly-sized, high-def images made specifically for Zoom backgrounds.
One of the best resources is Twitter. As Zoom and other video conferencing apps become more popular, plenty of companies have been posting hi-res images of iconic movie and TV sets to use as virtual backgrounds. Searching Twitter for “video call backgrounds” or “Zoom backgrounds” will turn up tons of great results, like these from Marvel and Fox (Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, Family Guy). The official Zoom Twitter account will also retweet some great background occasionally, too.
Lucasfilm/Disney released a collection of official Zoom backgrounds featuring well-known landscapes, starship interiors, and classic shots from the entire franchise.
Modsy TV show interiors
The interior design company, Modsy, recreated a bunch of beloved sitcom living rooms and turned them into Zoom backgrounds. You’ll find the entire collection here.
The Public Domain Review has tons of high-resolution Zoom backgrounds available for free, featuring iconic paintings, photographs, and illustrations from throughout the ages.
New York bars
Virtualcheers.org lets users donate to their favourite local NYC bars and download a high-res image of the bar’s interior to use as their Zoom background. I hope other cities startup similar sites—I know most of my fellow Portlanders would be super into it.