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How to Change Your Desktop Background in a Windows PC

One of the most important things that we look for in the way we set up our computers for use is how to personalize it. Now, most people don't ask much, as all they would probably want is a stable working "desk" on their screen. Still others want to move their icons on the desk around.

However, a popular way to customize your Windows desktop is to change the desktop wallpaper.

What are desktop wallpapers?

Desktop wallpapers are essentially graphic illustrations or photos that you can use as your desktop background on your Windows default screen. Many of the best desktops actually come as free wallpapers from online sites.

How do I change default Windows desktop backgrounds?

Though the processes are similar, here are the ways to change desktop backgrounds in the three major Windows OS iterations still in use today.

Windows XP:

    1. First, you have to click on the "Display" icon in the Control Panel, which is accessible through the Windows menu that appears when you click on the Windows icon at the lower left corner.

    2. Once the Desktop tab opens, click on the photo you want for your background. You should also activate one of the following options: Center, Tile, or Stretch. Center places your photo in the middle of your screen, with the size in respect to the resolution of the screen. The Tile setting, on the other hand, repeats your photo or graphic repeatedly across the screen, like bathroom tiles, from the upper right hand corner. Stretch expands your illustration or photo to fill up the whole screen. Do be aware that the Stretch setting can distort your photo if it doesn't have the same visual ratio as the screen.

    3. If you want to use your own personal images or photos, you can look for the photos or graphics that you like in other folders. All you have to do is click "Browse" in the options, so you can check out all the folders in your PC. The following file types are usable as desktop wallpapers: .bmp, .gif, .jpg, .dib, .png, and .htm. Do remember that if you do use an .htm document as your desktop background, you will be automatically set to Stretch settings.

    4. Once you have chosen the photo, you can then choose your background fill-in color, which will be the color shown if the photo does not fill up the whole desktop or screen.

    5. One other shortcut is to click on a photo, and then click again on the "Set as desktop background" option.

Windows 7:

Beginning note: Do remember that you cannot change your desktop background if you're using Windows 7 Starter.

1. As with Windows XP, you should access your desktop wallpaper settings through your Control Panel (you should, as with XP, find the Control Panel with your Start Button menu). However, since Control Panel in Windows 7 has many settings, do type in desktop background in the search bar, so you can go immediately to the settings for desktop wallpapers.

2. Once you are there, you can click on the many colors and default photos that you can use for your desktop background.

3. If you wish to use a personal graphic or photo, then all you have to do is locate the photo in your desktop or PC files, and then right-click on the photo's or image's icon. The right-click drop-down menu will have a feature that will say, "Set as desktop background". The photo setting will be defaulted as a Center photo display.

4. To change the settings for your wallpapers for desktop, do go to Personalization in the control panel. Once you are there, click on Desktop Background, so you can change the settings for Center, Tile, and Stretch as you would in XP.

Windows 8:

Many ways are available in Windows 8 to change your desktop background, depending on if you're using a touch screen.

1. Go to the Personalization window, similar to how it is done in Windows 7. After that, you can click on Desktop backgrounds.

2. From there, you can click and choose which photo you prefer. You should make sure that the photo is saved in your Photos library.

3. Again, from the Personalization window, you can choose your desktop background to also be your wallpaper for desktop Start background, and lock screen picture.

Do remember that the process may have different actions instead of clicking when you are using touchscreens. Swiping actions may be used for some click actions instead.

Finding your own wallpapers for desktop backgrounds

All you have to do, really, is to search online sources for the right images or photos that you would like to use as your own desktop background. You shouldn't even limit your desktop backgrounds to online sources, but also your own photographs or even scanned images.

However, the advantage of free wallpapers is that you get to have photos or images that are sized exactly for your screen. That way, you won't have to crop your own photos manually for use with your screen.

How do I know what my screen dimensions are?

Again, all you have to do is look in your Display or Personalization windows. Just check on your screen size settings, to find out what your screen dimensions are (like 1440x900). In Windows 7, for example, you can simply right-click on the desktop background itself to find out your screen resolution size or dimensions.

Can't I just let the Stretch function expand a smaller photo?

You could technically let a smaller photo be used for your desktop, but the lack of resolution in the photo will not have an aesthetically pleasing effect. It's always much better to find the right balance between your screen size, and your photo files (such as downloads of free wallpapers).

If your photo file is too large, then you may end up having to resize it manually, which is just as troublesome in its own way as using as small photo.

In the end, be it free wallpapers or default desktop backgrounds, the trick really is finding a photo, image, or even just a repeating pattern (for tiling) that is undeniably a reflection of your personality.


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