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Personalize Your Working Environment in Windows 10

Set the desktop background and system colors

You can use the options in the Personalization category of the Settings window to set the desktop background and the accent color that is used for various operating system elements, including the Start menu, taskbar, Action Center, and window title bars.

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Click to view larger image

The default Windows 10 desktop background pictures

Set the desktop background

Your choice of desktop background usually reflects your personal taste—what you like to see when your app windows are minimized or closed. Some people prefer simple backgrounds that don’t obscure their desktop icons, some prefer photos that reflect a specific theme, and some prefer personal photos of family members, pets, or favorite places.

You can set your desktop background to any of the following:

  • A picture You can choose one of the photos that come with Windows, or a digital image of your own. The image can be any of several file types, including BMP, GIF, JPG, PNG, TIF, and the less common DIB, JFIF, JPE, JPEG, and WDP file types.
  • A solid color If you want to keep things simple, you can opt for a plain, colored background. You can choose from a palette of 24 colors.

    02fig13.jpg

    Desktop background color options

  • A slideshow You can display the contents of a folder of your choice, with the background image changing as frequently as every minute or every 10 minutes, 30 minutes, hour, six hours, or day. You can display the images in the order they appear in the folder, or in a random order.

When you select a background option, a preview of the option appears at the top of the Background pane.

When displaying an image or slideshow as your desktop background, you can specify the position of the image as follows:

  • Fill The image is centered on the screen. The image fills the screen horizontally and vertically, and maintains its original aspect ratio. Parts of the image might overrun the left and right sides or the top and bottom edges (but not both).
  • Fit The image is centered on the screen. The image fills the screen horizontally or vertically, and maintains its original aspect ratio. Parts of the image might not fill the left and right sides or the top and bottom edges.
  • Stretch The image is centered on the screen. The image fills the screen horizontally and vertically, but does not maintain its original aspect ratio. No part of the image overruns the screen.
  • Tile The image is anchored in the upper-left corner of the screen at its original size, followed by as many copies as are necessary to fill the screen. Parts of the right-most and bottom tiles might overrun the edges of the screen.
  • Center The image is centered on the screen at its original size.
  • Span When you have multiple monitors connected to the computer, this option stretches the image across the monitors.

When you select a picture position that doesn’t fill the screen (such as Fit or Centered) the rest of the desktop is filled with the currently selected desktop background color.

To set one desktop background image

  1. Open the Settings window.
  2. Click Personalization, and then on the Personalization page, click Background.
  3. In the Background pane, click Picture in the Background list.
  4. In the Choose your picture area, do one of the following:

    • Click a thumbnail to select a Windows 10 image or a previously selected picture.
    • Click the Browse button. In the Open dialog box, browse to and click the image you want to use. Then click the Choose picture button.
  5. In the Choose a fit list, click Fill, Fit, Stretch, Tile, Center, or Span to indicate the way you want to position the image.
  6. When the preview image updates to reflect your settings, make any necessary changes to configure the desktop background the way you want it.

To display a series of desktop background images

  1. Place the images you want to display into one folder.
  2. Open the Settings window.
  3. Click Personalization, and then on the Personalization page, click Background.
  4. In the Background pane, expand the Background list, and then in the list, click Slideshow.
  5. If you want to use a folder other than the one shown in the Choose albums for your slideshow area (by default, this is your Pictures folder), click the Browse button. In the Select folder dialog box, browse to and click the folder of images you want to use. Then click the Choose this folder button.

    02fig14.jpg

    Desktop slideshow options

  6. If you want to display the folder contents in a random order, set the Shuffle toggle button to On.
  7. In the Choose a fit list, click Fill, Fit, Stretch, Tile, Center, or Span to indicate the way you want to position the images. Consider that in the slide show, image sizes might vary.
  8. When the preview image updates to reflect your settings, make any necessary changes to configure the desktop background the way you want it.

To set a desktop background color

  1. In the Settings window, click Personalization, and then on the Personalization page, click Background.
  2. In the Background pane, click Solid Color in the Background list to display the color grid. An outline indicates the current color.
  3. In the color grid, click the color swatch you want to use.
  4. When the preview image updates to reflect your settings, make any necessary changes to configure the desktop background the way you want it.

Set an accent color

The preview at the top of the Background pane and the preview at the top of the Colors pane display the same image: a partial-screen Start screen, taskbar, and window against the currently selected background.

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Previewing the desktop background and accent color

The colors displayed on the Start screen, taskbar, and window are controlled by the accent color settings. When selecting an accent color, you can choose from four configurations based on combinations of two settings:

  • The Start screen, taskbar, tiles, and window accents can be black, or they can be shades of the accent color. If they are controlled by the accent color, tiles (on the Start screen and in the Action Center) and window accents (such as toggle buttons) are the accent color, the Start screen is a medium shade of the accent color, and the taskbar is a dark shade of the accent color.
  • Windows can select an accent color based on the desktop background, or you can select an accent color. When the desktop background is any solid color, Windows selects gray as the accent color. When the desktop background is a picture, Windows selects a color from the picture.

    02fig16.jpg

    The default Colors options set an automatic accent color and transparent screens

    If you select the accent color, you can choose from a palette of 48 standard colors.

    02fig17.jpg

    Accent color options

The final option in the Colors pane isn’t related to the accent color, but it affects the same elements as the accent color. The option, which is turned on by default, makes the Start screen, taskbar, and Action Center transparent so that you can see the desktop and open windows behind them. This Windows Aero feature was introduced for windows frames and the taskbar in Windows 7, relegated to only the taskbar in Windows 8, and has returned in Windows 10. You can’t control the percentage of transparency (or rather, opacity) of the user interface elements—they’re either transparent or opaque—but the transparency level does seem to be slightly less in Windows 10 than in previous versions of Windows, and therefore slightly less distracting. We turned off the transparency to capture the images in this book. Try it out to find out whether you like it.

To set an accent color based on the desktop background

  1. Open the Settings window.
  2. Click Personalization, and then on the Personalization page, click Colors.
  3. In the Colors pane, set the Automatically pick an accent color... toggle button to On.

To set a specific accent color

  1. In the Settings window, click Personalization, and then on the Personalization page, click Colors.
  2. In the Colors pane, set the Automatically pick an accent color... toggle button to Off to display the color grid. An outline indicates the current color.
  3. In the color grid, click the color swatch you want to use. Windows implements the change and updates the preview image.

To display the Start menu and taskbar in color

  1. In the Settings window, click Personalization, and then on the Personalization page, click Colors.
  2. In the Colors pane, set the Show color on Start, taskbar, and action center toggle button to On to implement the change and update the preview image.

To switch between transparent and opaque user interface elements

  1. In the Settings window, click Personalization, and then on the Personalization page, click Colors.
  2. In the Colors pane, do one of the following:

    • If you want the Start screen, taskbar, and Action Center to be transparent, set the Make Start, taskbar, and action center transparent toggle button to On.
    • If you want the Start screen, taskbar, and Action Center to be opaque, set the Make Start, taskbar, and action center transparent toggle button to Off.

    Windows implements the change. This setting doesn’t affect the preview image, but if your desktop background has content at the bottom of the screen, the effect might be apparent on your taskbar.

  3. To check the effect of the setting, display the Start screen or Action Center.