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Here’s where to find the best free Zoom backgrounds

You don’t need to settle for Zoom’s default backgrounds—or, perish the thought, your real environs. You can even create your own background from scratch.

Here’s where to find the best free Zoom backgrounds
[Photos: Iñaki del Olmo/Unsplash; Jonny Caspari/Unsplash; Abdullah Ghatasheh/Pexels; Johannes Plenio/Pexels]

On a Zoom call the other day, a coworker of mine made a remark about the artwork I have hanging on the wall behind me: two very generic-looking pictures of deer. So generic, in fact, that I have thought about them exactly twice: the day I hung them and when my coworker mentioned them.

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It was then that I decided to dedicate the rest of my Zoom existence to using the virtual background feature (here’s how to do it, if you haven’t already played with it).

And while Zoom has a decent collection of built-in backgrounds, I found myself longing for something a bit more exciting, bold, unique, and/or interesting. Which led me to the following sites. . . .

Pexels: the never-ending collection

If it’s quantity you’re after, look no further than the Zoom Backgrounds collection on Pexels. There are almost 140,000 images and almost 30,000 videos to choose from—a truly mind-boggling selection.

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There’s a lot to sift through here, and you’ll need to set aside some time to do so: Although the collection is comprised of mostly high-quality imagery, it runs the gamut from truly out there to more conventional background scenes.

There aren’t a whole lot of filtering options other than size and quality, although there’s a neat search-by-color feature that lets you surface stuff that matches your favorite hue.

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The real winner here, though, are all the video backgrounds. Many are unassuming, looping scenes that add a bit of interest to your meetings without being overly distracting (except the leaf-eating giraffe, which is definitely distracting).

All in all, this is a great first stop, especially if you’re looking to build out your own collection and have some very specific ideas of the types of backgrounds you want in it.

Unsplash: a bit more traditional

The Zoom backgrounds collection at Unsplash is one-stop shopping if you’re looking for more traditional interior backgrounds.

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It’s not nearly as large at the Pexels collection—this one’s about 10,000-strong—but there’s a great mixture of home office, traditional office, modern office, and other similar backgrounds. There are a great many bookshelf options, too, should you be in the market for a more studious look.

There are also plenty of Zoom background collections curated by Unsplash users, which are helpful if you find yourself liking a particular person’s style and taste. Just drill into their collection to see similar stuff.

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Canva: create your own

If you’ve blasted through tens of thousands of backgrounds and still can’t find one you like, it’s time to swing by Canva to create your own.

You can start with one of more than 3,000 available templates, or use a blank template to really put your mark on it.

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There’s a mixture of free, paid, and video backgrounds in no particular order, but there’s plenty to work with here—and Canva’s a pretty easy-to-use design tool, even if you’re a novice.

This one’s got the best filtering features, too: by style, theme, and price—with plenty of sub-selections to help you drill down to what you’re looking for.

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