3 recommended updates: Upload custom background images for Teams meetings

Image of blue background with Office 365 logos and circles Image of blue background with Office 365 logos and circles

Version 20.05.21

Microsoft MVP Jasper Oosterveld on custom background images in Teams meetings, the new site footer layout for SharePoint communication sites, and the retirement of Microsoft Stream's people timeline.

ShareGate's easy-to-use SaaS tools enable organizations to achieve more than ever before with Microsoft cloud technologies. In our ongoing series, Jasper Oosterveld brings you up to speed on the latest and greatest from the world of Microsoft and Office 365.

I hope you enjoyed the last one—where I discussed the SharePoint spaces public preview, changes to video layout in Teams meetings, and modern experiences for the SharePoint metadata service.

Let's move on to the latest installment!


In this release, you'll find my opinion on the ability to add custom background images in Teams meetings, the new site footer layout for SharePoint communication sites, and the retirement of Microsoft Stream's people timeline.

Without further ado, let's take a closer look at 3 recommended updates that you should know about now.


Upload custom images for background effects in Teams meetings

This has been one of the most requested features since recent events forced us to start working from home: the ability to pick a custom background during a Microsoft Teams meeting.

This new feature in Teams allows meetings attendees to customize their background by uploading their own images.

Microsoft 365 Roadmap, Featured ID: 63666

I, too, could not wait for this feature. A few people know about my work location—let's just say it has a Harry Potter vibe. Although it has served me well as an icebreaker, it's nice to have some variety and select a different background for myself.

Microsoft Teams started with a standard set of backgrounds. But people soon discovered the ability to add your own custom backgrounds, as well.

According to fellow Microsoft MVP Matt Wade, you can add your own images to a folder on your Windows or macOS device and they'll appear in your list of backgrounds during your meetings in Teams.

Windows

Add your images to one of the following folders:

C:\Users\<your
username>\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads

C:\Users\<your
username>\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads

C:\Users\<your username>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\uploads

Mac

Open Finder and click Go > Go to Folder... and input the search path below to find the folder:

/users/<your username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads

The ShareGate design team created an image you can upload as your custom background in Teams. Download it here, then upload it to the proper folder to start using it in your Teams meetings!

Jasper in front of ShareGate custom background image.

I also found a lot of cool background images on this site. What are your favorite background images to use in Teams meetings? Share them in the comments below!

Good to know:

  • The following user-level policy options are also introduced:
    • Offer no filters
    • Offer background blur only
    • Offer background blur and default-provided images
    • All, which includes the ability for users to upload custom images

We are enabling tenant administrators to assign a user-level policy to control how users engage with background effects in Teams meetings. Options include: offer no filters; background blur only; use background blur and default provided images; and all, which includes the ability to upload their own custom images.

Microsoft 365 Roadmap, Featured ID: 63670
  • You can disable this feature by running the following cmdlet:

Import-Module SkypeOnlineConnector 
$Cred = Get-Credential 
$CSSession = New-CsOnlineSession -Credential $Cred 
Import-PSSession -Session $CSSession -AllowClobber 
Grant-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -Identity "email address" -PolicyName "BlurOnly" 

Current VideoFiltersMode options available are -
'Bl urAndDefaultBackgrounds' | 'BlurOnly' | 'AllFilters' | 'NoFilters';

  • Prepare your employees by sending out a news post announcing the option you've chosen. Don't forget to explain the reasoning behind this decision!

Microsoft started rolling out the ability to manage policy settings in early May, and are rolling out the ability for users to upload images now through the end of May 2020.


The SharePoint communication site is the best SharePoint template ever released by Microsoft.

The template—as well as its web parts and layout sections—are easy to use and overall pretty self-explanatory. Using the communication site template, companies can build intranet portals in days instead of months. Needless to say, we've seen a huge increase in the adoption rate of our intranet portals delivered with the SharePoint communicate site.

Since its release, we have been patiently waiting for more branding options—and now we've finally received an announcement about the new site footer layout.

The site footer in modern communication sites will now include a new layout option, extended, to show more content in the footer section. The footer control will also have a background color functionality.

Microsoft 365 Roadmap, Featured ID: 61063

The new extended layout features an enhanced experience for viewers and provides more navigational control for site authors. Footer layouts hold two levels of navigation and can be edited in the 'Change the look' panel without losing formerly saved links and labels at any time.

'Change the look' panel in SharePoint communication site.

Once the new layout is chosen, site editors can add two levels of links and labels in the footer by selecting Edit to the left side of the footer columns:

New layout for site footer for SharePoint communication sites.

Good to know:

  • You do not have to do anything to prepare for this change. There will be no changes to your current sites.
  • The footer control will also have a background color functionality.
  • Start updating your user training and documentation—or reuse the official Microsoft documentation on the subject.
  • Prepare your employees by sending out a news post announcing this update and its benefits.

Microsoft is starting to roll this feature out to targeted release customers in May, with worldwide rollout expected to be completed by the end of July 2020.


Microsoft Stream people timeline retirement

What is going on with Microsoft Stream?

Really, what is going on? The service started off with a bang a few years ago. Announced as the follow-up to the Office 365 Video portal back in 2016, Microsoft Stream offers a lot of new features including:

  • Integration with Microsoft 365 Groups
  • Integration with SharePoint sites
  • Delivery by Azure Media Services
  • Deep search and automatic transcription

One of the great features with a lot of potential was the people timeline. If people detection was turned on for your network, Microsoft Stream would automatically find people's faces in your videos and display a timeline. Then, using the people timeline, you could see when a specific person was visible and go to that moment in the video.

Unfortunately, in response to low feature usage during a time of unprecedented growth in Stream, Microsoft is retiring the people timeline feature.

In response to low feature usage during a time of unprecedented growth in Microsoft Stream, we are retiring the people timeline feature in Microsoft Stream.

MC211744, Plan for change, Featured ID: n/a

Microsoft talks about growth, but not much has happened lately with Microsoft Stream. For example, we've been waiting for guest access since its release. This is especially frustrating in combination with Microsoft Teams; we record meetings with our partners and customers, but then they can't view the recording because Microsoft Stream doesn't allow guest access.

This situation actually reminds me of Planner—another service with a lot of potential that started off great but was slow to see improvements. That said, in the previous article I talked about an upcoming rebranding of Planner in Microsoft Teams. Maybe the same thing is going to happen with Microsoft Stream? I guess we'll have to wait and find out.

Good to know:

  • If the people timeline is enabled for your organization, it will be disabled on June 1st, and any associated data will be permanently deleted by July 15th. Actual video content will NOT be impacted.
  • You might want to consider updating your training and documentation as appropriate.

Microsoft will begin the feature retirement June 1, 2020, after which time people detection will no longer be available.

And the Teams updates keep coming

Microsoft Teams isn't slowing down. New features are announced on a weekly basis and even more updates are being released.

My favorite new feature is the ability to add a custom background in Teams meetings. Not everyone likes using video for online meetings; by using a custom background, you have a built-in icebreaker at your disposal. I've seen this in action, and it really works! The only critique I have is with the quality, especially when wearing a headset—it creates a strange blur with your actual background. Hopefully this can be fixed in the near future.

Don't forget to check out the following new updates for Microsoft Teams:


In today’s digital workplaces, sharing content is an important piece of the collaboration puzzle—especially when working with clients, vendors, or anyone else outside your organization.

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