Windows 10 basics: how to customize your display

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If you’ve just bought a new laptop, one of the first things you’re probably going to want to do is personalize how it looks. Windows has plenty of options for customizing what you see when you open up your device. You can choose a lock screen, use a photo or other image as your wallpaper, and pick a theme.

It’s pretty simple and straightforward to do once you access your personalization settings. To do that:

  • Click on the Start button
  • Click on the cog icon to open up Settings
  • Select “Personalization”

From here, you can make a variety of design changes to the interface of your PC.

Change your wallpaper

  • Click on “Background” in the left-hand bar

Background page

Here, you can change your wallpaper or set a slideshow instead.

  • Use the drop-down menu under “Background” in the main windows to choose whether to use a picture, slideshow, or solid color as a wallpaper
  • If you’d like to choose an image as your wallpaper, click on “Picture.” Windows will give you some of its own options for photos underneath “Choose your picture.”
  • If you prefer to use one of your own photos, click on the “Browse” button. Select an image and click on “Choose picture.”
  • To change the format of the photo, click on the drop-down menu below “Choose a fit.” There are a number of different ways you can use the image — fill the space, for example, center it on the screen, or create a tile effect.
  • Once you select a fit, you’ll see your new wallpaper behind the Settings window; feel free to experiment to see what suits you (and your photo) best.
  • If the image doesn’t fill the entire screen, you can also choose a background color. Scroll down to “Choose your background color” and select a color. (If the image does fill the entire screen, then you won’t see that option.)

Fit options for a picture background

Adjust the sizing for your background.

  • If you’d rather skip setting a picture as your background, you can opt for a color instead. Select “Solid color” in the Background drop-down menu, and then pick a color from the tiles under “Choose your background color.” You can also select a custom color.

Background page, but with solid color options

Click on a tile to set that as your background color.

  • Finally, you can select “Slideshow” from the drop-down menu under “Background.” To choose which pictures will appear in your slideshow, click “Browse” under “Choose albums for your slideshow,” select a folder, and then click “Choose this folder.”

Slideshow options for the background

The slideshow will play photos from whichever folder you select.

  • You’ll then find additional settings to choose from, such as how often the slideshow changes images, toggling shuffle, whether to play the slideshow on battery power, and how the image should fit the screen. You can also choose a background color for when the image doesn’t fill the screen.

Additional background slideshow settings

Use these toggles and options to change your background slideshow settings.

To set a lock screen

  • Select “Lock screen” from the sidebar on the left

Lock screen page

Here, you can adjust what you see when your device is locked.

  • Open up the drop-down menu below “Background.” You’ll get three options: “Windows spotlight,” “Picture,” and “Slideshow.”

Lock screen dropdown menu

Use the drop-down menu to customize your lock screen.

  • To use a static image as your lock screen, choose “Picture.” Then select an image from the options below “Choose your picture.”
  • As with your wallpaper, you can also use your own photo for the lock screen by clicking “Browse,” using the pop-up window to navigate to the image you like, and then clicking “Choose picture.”
  • To set up a slideshow to play when your device is locked, click “Slideshow.” You’ll see a section called “Choose albums for your slideshow,” which shows the folders the slideshow will play images from. To remove a folder, click on it and then click “Remove.” To add another folder, click the “Add a folder” button, navigate to the folder you’d like to select, and then click “Choose this folder.”

Lock screen slideshow options

You can add or remove folders for your slideshow.

  • Below that, you’ll see “Advanced slideshow settings.” Click on that to adjust settings like when to turn off your screen, whether to lock or turn off the screen when the device is idle, and whether to play a slideshow when your Windows is on battery power.

Advanced slideshow settings

Use the toggles to adjust your preferences for the slideshow.

  • The third lock screen option is “Windows spotlight.” This feature will give you a photo for your lock screen. You can indicate whether you like the photo and your feedback will be used to customize which photos follow.

Lock screen app options

You can allow one app to display a detailed status and other apps to display a brief status on the lock screen.

  • No matter which lock screen option you choose, you can adjust which apps will show up on that screen. Click the icon under “Choose one app to show detailed status on the lock screen,” and select an app from the drop-down menu. Under that, you can select additional apps that will display a less-detailed status on the lock screen.

Drop-down options for apps

Click on the tile and select an app from the drop-down menu.

Choose an accent color:

  • Click on “Colors” in the left-hand sidebar
  • Click on the down-down menu below “Choose your color.” Here, you can choose between Light and Dark modes. If you select “Custom,” you can choose separately to use Light or Dark mode for Windows and for your apps.

Color settings

You can designate dark mode for your device and for apps separately.

  • Whatever you choose, you can then scroll down to “Choose your accent color,” and select a color from one of the tiles there or pick a custom color by clicking on the + below.

Accent color settings

Choose a color from the tiles or add a custom color.

How to use themes

Themes are a package of wallpapers, sounds, and colors that you can use to customize your device. You can choose a theme that comes with your system, or get more from the Microsoft Store.

  • You can find “Themes” in the sidebar on the left, and you’ll see your current theme in a window at the top of the main area.
  • If you want, you can click on “Background,” “Color,” “Sounds,” and “Mouse cursor” to adjust each of these features individually.

Custom theme settings

You can save the theme you’ve created or pick a different one.

  • Scroll down to “Change theme” to see some others you can choose from. As before, you’ll see the results of the changes in the window at the top of the page, and you can adjust the background, color, sounds, and cursor individually. There is also a link to the Microsoft Store where you’ll find additional themes to play with.
  • Click on “Save theme” to store the custom theme you’ve created.

Themes menu

Use the buttons at the top to customize a built-in theme.

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