How To Customize Your Windows 10 Desktop

How to Personalise Your Windows 10 Desktop
How to customize your windows 10 desktop

Does your Windows 10 PC Desktop still have the plain Windows wallpaper it came with? How about changing it to a slideshow of beautiful images? Did you know that in the Windows store there are hundreds of stunning themes you can download for free? But, if you prefer, you can also easily create a theme using your own pictures.

I have set up my PC desktop to display photos I take on my travels. It brings me so much joy to relive those memories whenever I turn on my computer. They look amazing on my large wide screen.

My Windows 10 Desktop shows photos from a trip to Venice

There’s no limit to what you could include in your theme: family photos, your own artwork, pictures of your pets—whatever. If you’re not an artist or a photographer there are many websites (some listed below) where you can legally download amazing images for free personal use.

Let’s get started.

First of all, do you want to use a ready made Windows theme or create your own? Instructions for either option are provided below.

Install a Windows 10 Theme

  1. Right click on the desktop (the screen you see when you have no windows showing) and a window will pop up. Click on Personalise.
  1. A new window will open. On the left side is a menu so click on Themes.
  1. Under the “Change Theme” header, you’ll find a few themes available, alternatively, click on “Get More Themes in Microsoft Store” and you’ll then be spoilt for choice because there are hundreds of themes listed, many of them free.

Important note: I recommend you only download themes from the Microsoft Store as themes offered elsewhere may have viruses.

  1. If you find a theme you like in the Microsoft store, click on it. It won’t install it but you’ll be taken to a page where you can see some screenshots of the images in that theme, see other suggested themes, read reviews etc. If you want to go ahead and download that theme click on the blue “Get” button at the top. You will be given the option of signing into Microsoft. If you’re downloading one of the many free themes just click “No thanks”. 
  1. To activate your theme go back to the personalise settings window on your PC (right click on your desktop and select personalise as before). Click on themes and the one you just downloaded should be there under “Change Theme”. Click on it to activate it.

Create Your Own Windows 10 Theme

Gather some suitable images together into a separate folder on your PC. Five would be a good number to start with, you can easily add more later. For a great display that fills the monitor without any blank space around it I would recommend you use landscape images and crop/resize them to the exact dimensions of your monitor’s display resolution.

I have a standard wide-screen monitor and its display resolution is 1920 pixels (px) by 1080 pixels. Yours might be different. If you’re not sure, right click on your desktop and select display settings. It will tell you the current display resolution.

A word of warning…when resizing or cropping, don’t make your image larger than it was originally as the image quality will degrade.

If you haven’t resized your images, then check their dimensions because the display settings in your theme will vary depending on the size of your images and if they’re larger or smaller than your monitor’s dimensions. Just to clarify, we’re talking dimensions in pixels not file size.

If you look at fig 1b below, you’ll see some of my photos as they’re listed in a folder on my PC. The middle column shows the dimensions of the image so you can see they’re 1200 x 800 which is smaller than my monitor size of 1920 x 1080.

If your folder doesn’t look like mine then click on the view menu at the top and select “content”. (see fig 1a below). If you’ve downloaded images from your phone, chances are they will be larger than your monitor in pixels. Mine are usually more than twice as big. For best results, don’t combine smaller and larger photos in the same theme. You’ll see why in a minute.

Fig 1a
Fig 1b

Okay, now you have all your images in a folder, it’s time to set up the theme. 

Right click on your desktop and select “personalisation”. Here you’ll be presented with a a few options. They’re all self-explanatory but this is how I’ve set up mine. 

The only setting to be careful with is the “choose a fit” setting. If you resized your images to match your monitor’s dimensions then select “Fill”. Otherwise, choose “fit” if your images are larger than your monitor or “centre” if they’re smaller. Bear in mind, unless you have selected “fill”, you will have some blank space around your images. The example below is a small image set at “centre”. If I’d chosen “fit” it would have stretched it out and it would have looked pixelated and awful!

Click on “colours” in the left hand menu to customise them, if you want. I like “Automatically pick an accent colour from my background” which changes the theme colours every time the wallpaper changes.

When you’ve finished setting up the background and the colours, head to themes (in the left hand menu) to name and save your theme.  

You should now see your theme under “Change Theme” but it will have already activated onto your desktop.

The great thing is, once you have created your theme, you can add or delete images to its folder when you like. Those images will automatically filter through to your slideshow.

Note: these instructions are specifically for Windows 10 users. If you have an older version of Windows you may, depending on how old your version is, be able to create a customised theme but the steps will be different.

These steps WILL NOT work on an Apple Mac.

Here are a few websites where you can download free stock images although some of these websites also have paid options.