Nowadays most TV interviews, job meetings and even family gathering seem to take place online in video call apps like Microsoft Teams, so chances are you’ve either quietly laughed at your colleagues’ video call fails or made one yourself.
Like, when your children make some really inappropriate (and cute) comments in the background while you’re on a call with the general manager.
…or your cat decides to re-stake his ownership and control of you by rubbing his scent all over your face while you’re explaining to that potential client how they’re going to make so much money off your latest invention.
…or your wife strolls past in the background in her glow-in-the-dark mushroom PJs (yes, there really is such a thing).
But what to do if a video conference emergency happens and you need to cut your video or audio quickly? You dive for the mouse and try hit the mute button or camera kill switch. But in Microsoft Teams for Windows, those buttons are small and impossible to hit in a rush.
Here are three keyboard combos for Microsoft Teams that could save – if not your career – at least five minutes of being the laughing stock of the virtual office.
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Mute! For the love of all that is good, Ctrl+Shift+Mute!!!
If you take away nothing else from reading this, at least remember Ctrl+Shift+M. Hitting this key combo will cut you and your family, and that bloody dog next door off from the rest of your virtual world. At least in the aural sense. Once the threat has passed, hit the same keyboard shortcut again to switch your microphone back on and continue as if nothing happened. Seriously, nothing at all did happen. I swears!
Stop filming me! Turn that camera Ctrl+Shift+Off!!!
Don’t get me wrong: Those glowing PJs are cute! But my wife doesn’t want her mushroom pants on full display for my colleagues to see. Not even accidentally. That’s where Ctrl+Shift+O comes in. Spam that keyboard shortcut in Microsoft Teams and your camera will temporarily die. Once the wife has skedaddled, and there is no mushroom to be seen, hit the same three keys again to flick the camera back on.
Let’s just blur that background! I Ctrl+Shift+Put my trust in Microsoft Teams to hide what should not be seen!
If it seems a bit drastic to kill the camera and leave behind nothing but a black box where your beautiful face should be in that meeting, there’s a slightly less dramatic option available. I mean, they’re just mushroom PJs after all!
Microsoft Teams for Windows has a neat option to blur your background. Hitting Ctrl+Shift+P should leave only your beautiful face against a nicely blurred backdrop, and your fellow meeting participants oblivious to whatever cringeworthy activity is happening behind you.
Word of warning: The background blur is software magic. So it’s possible to confuse Microsoft Teams to the point where things that should be blurred suddenly become un-blurry. (Is that a word?) And it may not work on all web cameras.
There you have it! Three keyboard combos to practice and commit to muscle memory: Ctrl+Shift+M, Ctrl+Shift+O, Ctrl+Shift+P. (Remember which one is which?)
Practice them all, just like you (surely) practise how fast you can unlock your front door, get inside, lock the door, turn off the lights, close the curtains and hide under the table. You’ll hopefully never need to do it… Until the scary clown is suddenly standing in your front yard.
What’s your favourite video conferencing fail? Let me know in the comments below.
And while you’re at it, have a look at this great video about video calls in the olden days of 2016. Not much has changed since then.
This post was published first on DigiPlanet.co on 22 April 2020.