Customizing Phone Background Images in CUCM 5x/6x/7x

William Bell
Vice President, Solutions and Products

As with pre-Appliance versions, the background images are hosted on the cluster TFTP servers. The images themselves are PNG files stored in very specific directories.  The directories are based on the phone model in question.  So, different phone models will require different PNG pixel resolution.  Further, each image will require two PNG files.  One is a thumbnail version of the file so that users can “browse” for the background they want and the second PNG is the actual background applied when the user chooses an image.

Creating the Image

Cisco IP phone background images must be in PNG format.  You can use any image converter/editor you wish.  I use Imre (  I like this tool because you can modify more than one image at a time.

The following table breaks down the PNG resolution and folder locations for each model type:

Image Sizes are in pixels:  WxH




TFTP Directory





















The List File

Once you create the images, you have to either update (if it exists) or create a List.xml file.  The file name is case sensitive and the file will be located in the same TFTP Directory as the images it is “listing”.  So, each phone model will have its own List.xml file (notice that the 7941/61 and 7942/62 use the same directory and List.xml file. 

The List.xml file:

        <ImageItem Image="TFTP:Desktops/320x212x16/tn-netcraft.png" URL="TFTP:Desktops/320x212x16/netcraft.png"/>

The example above shows two entries for the 7945/7965 phones.  The “Image” attribute in the ImageItem child node points to the thumbnail and the URL points to the actual background image.

Making the Files Available

Once you have the image files and the updated/new List.xml file, you have to upload everything to the TFTP server.  You need to upload the files to each TFTP server manually.  You will also need to use the platform portal page (https://mycucm1/cmplatform/) to upload the files.

You will need to store files in the TFTP directory specified in the above table.  If this is your first time creating a background image you may need to create the specified directory.

Once you upload everything, you will need to restart the TFTP service so that the files are loaded in cache for the IP phones.  

A Word on 7940/7960

It has been a while since I have had to deal with these phones.  Recently a customer asked me if we can put background images on the 7940/7960.  I don’t recall ever trying to do this.  Anyway, the answer is no you can’t.  The only way to do this is using an idle URL and leveraging one of the Cisco IP phone SDK applications to create the PNG file.  Not optimal and not something I would recommend. 

13 responses to “Customizing Phone Background Images in CUCM 5x/6x/7x

  1. How do you create the directory’s on the callmanger server(TFTP). I can not find any docs on the commands for creating these directory or seeing if they even are present on server.

    Any help would much appreciated.

    thanx jon

  2. Jon,

    Good question. When you upload the file using "TFTP File Management" in the platform web portal you have the option of specifying a directory in the dialogue box. If you specify a directory name like: 320x212x16 when you are uploading the first image (or List.xml) the directory will be created for you.


  3. What about the soft phone (IP communicator) can i do the same and what is the directory and image file sizes?

  4. Ibrahim,

    CIPC is basically running the same software as loaded in the 7970/7971 firmware. So, for CIPC you would use the same settings as the 7970/7971 in the table above.


  5. is great, it was a problem for me, thank you a lot.

    now I ask if there’s way to configure the calendar of ToIP of cisco???

    best regards

  6. Souzi,

    Thanks for the feedback. I am not sure I follow your question. Maybe you are referring to the Calendar ASP that is included with the IP phone SDK? If so, then you can check on Cisco’s developer site:

    The SDK overview (not much on the calendar here):

    There is also a zip file containing the entire SDK on the developer site. Installation and configuration instructions are provided for each application.



  7. I’ll try it, thanks for your help, but I’ve a other problem!!

    So I wonder if there is a way to lock the phone to an assistant with just one button because you know that a worker does not move but she can go to the toilet or to the manager for 2min, so she should lock her phone, is there a solution?


  8. Hi

    I’ve the same problem of souzi but when I look the XML fils I found juste the List.XML of the background image;
    so how can I find XML fils to find SDK and after to find ASP???


  9. Souzi,

    There is no locking mechanism on a phone per se. You could look at leveraging Extension Mobility for this type of functionality.



  10. John,

    If you are looking for information on the IP phone SDK then you should go to the Cisco developer site.

    [url] [/url]



  11. yes I found that is possible with an Extension Mobility but I can’t find how to do it :s


  12. We are a large retail company that owns many small subsidiary’s all connecting to one centralized UCM. So the image would be different per location. Is this possible?

  13. Andrew,

    In the default/native configuration, the same List.xml file is used by all phones configured on the system. So, if your question is can you have a separate List.xml file with a centralized CUCM cluster then the answer no, not with the native configuration. If this were a requirement then you could consider setting up separate TFTP server(s) per tenant. Phones pull the List.xml from their assigned TFTP server (learned via DHCP). Some newer phones can use HTTP, but the same basic concept applies. This is possible, but could get tricky from a maintenance perspective.

    If, on the other hand, your question is can you have different back ground image for each tenant/site then this is definitely possible. You can add multiple images to the List.xml. The only problem is people at site A would see background images for Site B, Site C, etc.

    You could consider pushing specific background images to different phones based on tenant affiliation and/or site location. I discussed this topic here:

    In your case, we could build a script that pushes a different background image to phones based on location information (such as IP address). This would be completely custom, but definitely feasible. Coupled with some settings controls on the phone you may be able to achieve what you are looking to do. It just depends on the specific requirements.

    Take a look at the article above and let me know if you need any clarification. Also let me know if I am misunderstanding your question.



Leave a Reply


Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.


Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.


John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.