How to blur the background on Skype video calls

Tools that record or stream live from your webcam focus mostly on video quality and for good reason. A video calling app can have all the bells and whistles you can imagine but if the call quality is poor, no one will use it. While call quality is important, it’s not the only tool that you need. Skype has recently begun to pay attention to what once made it a great calling app by adding features that actually make the call experience better. It recently added live subtitles to calls and a new feature now lets you blur the background on Skype when you’re in a call.

Blur the background on Skype

This is a new feature so make sure you’re running the latest version of the Skype app. According to the Skype team, this feature is only available on desktops at present and most desktops will be able to support it. This suggests that the feature relies to some extend on the hardware other than the webcam that you use. There is no list of hardware requirements available so you’re going to have to manually check if the feature works for you or not.

To blur the background on Skype, open the app and start a video call. Once the video call is live, you need to access Skype’s settings. On the Settings’ window, go to the Audio & Video tab. Under the Camera preview, there will be a button called ‘Blur my background.’ Turn it on, and return to your call.

The background will now be blurred enough that you cannot make it out. You will still be in focus but everything else will no longer be visible. While we can’t say for sure what the hardware requirements for this feature might be, we can guess that a good, HD webcam isn’t one of them.

The blur background option appears to come and go at present so perhaps Skype is alpha/beta testing it. During testing, we were able to blur the background for a call but the option later disappeared from the Settings which is why we recommend enabling it only after your call is live.

The blurred background is great for privacy or if you just have a messy room that you don’t want anyone to see. The blur itself is great. It deals really well with movement and doesn’t accidentally unblur the background or blur the main subject i.e., you. Given how good the feature is, Skype could add a tool to completely remove the video background too if it wanted.

Read How to blur the background on Skype video calls by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to find and send GIFs on Slack

Slack is a unique messaging app; it’s built for the work place and has every feature you might need in a messaging service but at the same time, it also has a fun aspect to it. Social messaging apps that support sending GIFs added the feature only after it became popular on this app. If you’re starting out with the messaging app, you may not know how to find and send GIFs on Slack. In this article, we’ll explain how to do just that.

GIFs on Slack

Slack comes with its own set of features however, other apps can be developed on top of it to extend its functionality. This allows users to develop usage-specific apps that can integrate with Slack. GIF apps are one such app. You’ll find there’s no shortage of GIF apps for Slack.

You can search for GIF apps on the Slack apps directory and take your pick. We recommend using Giphy for its extensive GIF library and for how easy it is to use. Visit the Giphy Slack app and add it to your Workspace. You need only add it to your workspace in your browser. If you’re using the Slack desktop app, you will be able to use the Giphy app from there as well.

To find a GIF, type the following in the input message field in any channel.

/giphy [type of GIF you need]

Example

/giphy yay

Giphy will return a GIF that matches the word or phrase that you entered. If you like it, click the Send button under the GIF. If you want a different GIF, click the Shuffle button to get a different GIF that goes with the word/phrase that you entered.

The GIFs are shared as links and you get a full preview of them in Slack. What this means is that the GIF won’t take up disk space however, you and your recipient will not have to open the GIF in your browser to view it.

We should warn you that sharing GIFs over Slack does tend to be distracting. If you ever decide the app isn’t useful anymore, you can remove it. To remove the app, visit Slack in your browser and sign in to the workspace you want to remove the app from.

Go to your Manage tab and select the app that you want to remove. Click the Remove button at the top right to remove the app. If you want, you can also disable it from this same screen.

Read How to find and send GIFs on Slack by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to access Control Panel personalization settings on Windows 10

The Control Panel is dying a slow death and the Settings app is taking over its job. The transition may never be complete which means that we will see the Control Panel for quite a while. The Settings app is a ridiculously basic, watered down version of the settings that the Control Panel used to have and the Personalization group of settings is a prime example of this. The good news is, if you ever need to, you can still access the Control Panel personlization settings on Windows 10.

Control Panel personalization settings

The personalization settings in the Control Panel are all still there in Windows 10 1809. You can no longer access them from the main Control Panel screen, nor can you access them from the context menu on the desktop. Instead, you need to use the run box. Tap the Win+R keyboard shortcut to open the run box, and enter the following in it;

shell:::{ED834ED6-4B5A-4bfe-8F11-A626DCB6A921} -Microsoft.Personalization\pageWallpaper

Tap enter and you will see the window below. It has every option that the Control Panel had under Personalization back in Windows 7 and 8/8.1.

These settings are perfectly functional. You can set the wallpaper from here and customize other settings related to the desktop background.

If you’re wondering what you’re missing between this window and the Background tab in the Personalization group of Settings, they differences are small e.g., you have far more options if you want to customize the slideshow interval. This isn’t the only setting that’s still around. A lot of the Control Panel settings that can no longer be accessed from the main screen can still be accessed if you know the correct path to them.

Why Microsoft won’t retire these Control Panel settings completely is a mystery. Maybe Windows 10 actually relies on them to some extent. It would explain why so many things break at random. That’s kind of why it’s such a bad idea to migrate these settings. It might have just been a better idea to allow users to keep both apps. Users still miss what the Control Panel had to offer. On top of that, the Settings app is still changing and despite Windows 10 having been out for 3 years now, users are still unaware of many of the settings that it has to offer.

Regardless, it’s hard to imagine any time in the future when the Control Panel will finally be phased out. It’s possible we might just get the next Windows before that happens.

Read How to access Control Panel personalization settings on Windows 10 by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to set display order on Windows 10

Windows 10 lets you connect as many displays to your system as your GPU allows. External displays are mostly plug & play which means you need only connect a monitor or TV to your desktop and laptop, and it will automatically start working. You do have to choose if you want the second or third display to mirror your primary display or to extend it across the multiple displays that are connected. One other aspect that you need to look at is the order of the displays i.e., which is the left most display and which one is placed to its right.

This determines how your mouse moves and where the display ‘ends’. Here’s how you can set display order on Windows 10.

Set display order

Before you can set the display order for your displays, you need to first  know which number is allocated to each display. If you’re using a laptop and you’ve connected an external monitor to it, the laptop’s internal screen is always going to be the first screen with the number 1 allocated to it. Still, to be on the safe side, you can check the display number.

To check the display number, open the Settings app and go to the System group of settings. Select the Display tab and click Identify. A number will be superimposed on your screens indicating the number that is allocated to them.

Now that you know which display is which, you can set its order. First, step back and look at your multi-display set up. Which screen is physically located on the left and which is located on the right. On the Display tab in the Settings app, check if the screens are lined up the same way they are physically.

For example, let’s say you have an external display marked screen 2, and an internal display marked screen 1. Physically, Screen 2 is placed on the left side of Screen 1 but the Display tab shows you that Screen 2 is placed on the right side of Screen 1. If you leave this set up as is, what will happen is if you move your mouse to the right edge of Screen 1, it will disappear and reappear on the left edge of Screen 2. The scrolling direction will basically be incorrect.

To fix this, you need to drag and rearrange the displays on the Displays tab in the Settings app. It really is that simple. Drag one display and drop it on on to the left or right side of the other display to align it with how the displays are physically set up. If the two displays are different in size i.e., one is smaller and the other is bigger, you need to match their resolutions. This may not always be possible especially if you have an ordinary internal display and a 4K external display. In such a case, try and set the resolution of the displays are close as possible.

Read How to set display order on Windows 10 by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to uninstall Skype for Business on Windows 10

We covered how you can uninstall the Skype UWP app on Windows 10. It just so happens that there’s a different version of Skype called Skype for business and it’s not very easy to get rid of it if you’ve installed it on your system. This version is hard to distinguish from the other one. You might inadvertently end up installing it from the Microsoft store app but you cannot uninstall Skype for Business like you can other apps that have been installed from the Microsoft Store. Here’s how you can get rid of it.

Office 365 users

If you’re an Office 365 user, you cannot uninstall Skype for Business. There is no workaround to this unless you’re willing to remove Office 365 from your system. It really makes the case for using the stand alone Office Suite. If you are an Office 365 user and are tired of Skype for business running all the time, skip to the Hide Skype for Business section for a solution.

Uninstall Skype for business

The first place to check for where to uninstall Skype for business is the Control Panel. This particular version of the app is a desktop app. In Control Panel, go to Programs>Uninstall a program.

In the list of installed programs, look for Skype for Business. Select it, and click the Uninstall button.

If you’re running the sand alone version of Office, you will not be able to find Skype for Business in the list of installed apps. Instead, to uninstall Skype for business, you need to find the Microsoft Office Suite in the list of installed apps, select it, and click Change.

Allow the Microsoft Office set up to launch. Select the Add or Remove feature option and when it lists the various apps that are installed by the suite, Expand Skype for business. From the dropdown next to it, select Not Available.  Click Continue and allow the app to do its job. When it completes, Skype for business will be removed from your system.

Hide Skype for business

If you’re using Office 365 and are unable to uninstall Skype for business, you can stop the app from running automatically at start up and from opening in the foreground.

Open Skype for business. Click the little arrow button next to the cog wheel button on the app’s main screen and select Tools>Options.

On the Options window, go to the Personal tab, and uncheck both the ‘Automatically start the app when I log on to Windows ‘ option and the ‘Start the app in the foreground’ option.

Read How to uninstall Skype for Business on Windows 10 by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter