Minded Systems

Cisco IP Phone Background Images

Many of the industry-leading executive style phones on the VoIP market today are part of the Cisco IP Phone series. A large portion of these devices come built with a high resolution, full color display that can offer rich displays and unique interfaces when coupled with the use of the Cisco XML service objects.

One of the more user-facing features of these market topping devices is the ability to apply custom backgrounds. Granted, the concept is simple and merely aesthetic; but having the option to apply a custom background can provide a sense of personalization to make a piece of technology feel less foreign. However, this is not about the psychology of implementation choices. The following contains helpful information and some useful tips on creating custom backgrounds for the Cisco IP Phones. A free download pack of background samples has been included as well (package includes 8 background images, associated thumbnails, an XML definition file and README instruction file). Installation follows the same process described below.

NOTE: The 7945, 7965, 7975, 7970, and Communicator have been tested with SIP firmware and are confirmed as able to support this function.

TFTP Folders:

The first step is to prepare the folder structure on the TFTP server that is providing the Cisco IP Phones with their configuration files. In the root of the TFTP servers directory, create a folder named ‘Desktops’ (case sensitive). The 7945 and 7965 models will look for their background images and XML file in a sub-folder of Desktops called ‘320x212x12’. The other models (7970, 7975 and Communicator) will look in the ‘320x212x16’ subfolder of Desktops. All background images, thumbnails and the XML file defining the backgrounds will ball be placed in these sub-folders.


All background images must be properly sized to avoid distortion during display. The Cisco IP Phone firmware (SCCP and SIP) will adjust the image to best fit the display and its color depth. As the folder names suggest, the standard size for background images on the Cisco IP Phones is 320 pixels wide by 212 pixels tall. The last number in the folder names (12 or 16) is the color depth that the phone supports. Testing shows that the firmware can adjust the color depth to suit the display.


When selecting the background on the phone, a list of thumbnails are presented to choose from. These thumbnail images must be uploaded as separate image files, again sized properly to avoid display distortion. The thumbnail size is 80 pixels wide by 53 pixels tall. As with the full images, the color depth will be adjusted by the phones firmware to suit the display.

XML Definition:

Finally, an XML file is used to define the available backgrounds and associate them with their provided thumbnail images. The file must be called List.xml (case sensitive). Fortunately, it is rather straight forward. Each XML node defines a background and has two properties, one for the background image location and one for the thumbnail image location. Ensure that the folder name is entered in the XML definitions match the folder name that the XML file and images are placed in. Here is an example of the XML file:

     <ImageItem Image="TFTP:Desktops/320x212x16/001-TN.png"
     <ImageItem Image="TFTP:Desktops/320x212x16/002-TN.png"

In each node, the Image property specifies the TFTP location of the thumbnail image and the URL property specifies the full background image. The location of the XML file does not need to be specified in the configuration file, the phones will locate List.xml if it exists within the phones supported background folder (along with the images).

After placing all files in the correct folders and upload the folders to the TFTP server with the phone configuration files, the phones will be able to access the newly added backgrounds. No reset is required as the List.xml file gets pulled each time the background switching options are selected by the user.

Background Images Gallery:


how are you? can we use cisco cp-9951 with asterisk.if we can how to do this? could you help me? thaks alot

November 18, 2013 fikret
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