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Tracking the Evolution of Custom Background Images for Teams Meetings
I’ve written about using custom background effects in Teams meetings since their introduction in early 2020, including how to fetch and use the Bing daily images as custom background inages for Teams meetings.
Recently, I’ve used the Teams 2.1 client as my daily driver. Microsoft expected that the new Teams client would become the default client in late September. The switchover is very close and the new client is in good shape. It’s as stable as its Electron-based predecessor and performs better, so using Teams 2.1 is a reasonable option for someone like me. The task of deploying the new client across a large enterprise will take some planning and coordination.
No Custom Background Images After Switch to Teams 2.1
As part of my personal move, I noticed that the custom background images I use for Teams meetings are unavailable in Teams 2.1. Some investigation revealed that Teams 2.1 uses a different folder to store custom images. Here are the folders used by the two clients.
- Teams 1: C:\Users\userx\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- Teams 2.1: C:\Users\userx\AppData\Local\Packages\MSTeams_8wekyb3d8bbwe\LocalCache\Microsoft\MSTeams\Backgrounds\Uploads
Switching to Teams 2.1 doesn’t transfer custom background images to the new location, possibly because Microsoft uses a new naming scheme for the images. Instead of regular names like My favorite beach scene.jpg, Teams 2.1 uses names like 42b9a5ad-460e-46df-8c1b-f4d7c42dffc0.jpg. Each image exists in a high-resolution (at least 1920 x 1080 pixels) version and a lower-resolution thumbnail (220 x 158 pixels). The high-resolution version is the image that Teams loads as a meeting background. The thumbnails are displayed in the gallery of available background images.
Transferring Custom Background Images for Teams 2.1
Because of the naming scheme used by Teams 2.1, it’s not enough to simply copy custom background images from the Teams 1 folder because Teams 2.1 ignores any files that don’t follow its naming convention (with or without a thumbnail).
The obvious fix for the problem is to upload custom background images into the Teams 2.1 client. That’s acceptable when only a couple of files are involved. Things get boring thereafter, which is why I wrote a PowerShell script (downloadable from GitHub). The script:
- Loads a Resize-Image function to resize images to the desired sizes (originally written by Christopher Walker and found in GitHub).
- Defines the folders used by Teams 1 and Teams 2.1.
- Finds JPG files in the Teams 1 folder. The script ignores any thumbnails and only processes high-resolution images.
- Call the Resize-Image function to generate new high-resolution files sized at 1920 x 1080 and thumbnails. The file names follow the Teams 2.1 scheme.
- Copy the generated files to the Teams 2.1 folder and remove them from Teams 1 folder.
- Lists the JPG files now in the Teams 2.1 folder.
It’s not a particularly complex script, but it worked. The acid test is that I can select my custom background images from the gallery when in a meeting with the Teams 2.1 client (Figure 1).
Bumps in the Changeover
The changeover from Teams 1 to Teams 2.1 will reveal some flaws. The architecture and internal functions of the two clients are very different. Using a different folder to store custom background images is a very small indicator of the kind of change involved in the transition. I have no idea why Microsoft decided to switch folders as the Teams 1 folder seemed perfectly acceptable, but they did. Now you know how to transfer custom background images to the new location, the issue goes away.
I don’t see any reason why the same technique could not be used to distribute a set of organization images to workstations. If you can access the folder, you can copy custom background images to it and make those images available for Teams meetings.
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