skype logo against a blurry background of a bedroom
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When you make a video call over Skype, you’re inviting people to look in your home. Letting mom see your disgusting kitchen isn’t a big deal, but what happens when a co-worker or a potential employer sees your surroundings?

Remember a few years ago when a professor’s toddler interrupted his important BBC interview? When the video went viral, people started to ask questions. We can’t always control the environment that we’re Skyping in, especially when a call happens on short notice. Why isn’t there a way for Skype to hide your environment?

Well, Microsoft has taken this as an opportunity to improve Skype. The software now has a background blur feature that can effectively erase your environment from any video call—basically, it’s portrait mode for video calls. A lot of webcam masks and tricks look kind of tacky, but Skype’s new background blur feature genuinely looks great. It uses AI to detect the tiny features of your face and body, including every strand of your hair.

Note: This feature is only available on the desktop version of Skype; it doesn’t work on the mobile versions of the app.

How to Use Background Blur

Using background blur is very easy, it only takes about two clicks. Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using the latest version of Skype, otherwise this won’t work.

First, start a video call with someone. Three icons will show up at the bottom of the video call. The first icon is for “Microphone Settings,” the second is for “Video Settings,” and the third is an “End Call” button. Go ahead and click the “Video Settings” icon.

After you click the “Video” icon, a small “Video Settings” menu will appear. If you’re using the latest version of Skype, a “Blur my background” option should appear toward the bottom of the “Video Settings” menu, and it will look a bit like the below picture.

You can use this button to toggle background blur on or off at any time. Maybe you should practice turning the background blur on as fast as you can, just in case you find yourself in a scramble the next time you get a video call. Or, you know, just leave it on.