Windows 10's new light theme and desktop background

Windows 10’s May 2019 Update includes a new light theme and a brighter default desktop background to go with it. Here’s how to enable the shiny new theme and get a lighter looking desktop.

To enable the light theme, head to Settings > Personalization > Colors. To quickly open the Personalization section, you can right-click your desktop and select “Personalize” or press Windows+I to open the Settings window and then click “Personalization.”

The Personalize option in Windows 10's desktop context menu

Click the “Choose your color” box on the Colors pane and select “Light.”

This feature requires your PC has the May 2019 Update, which is Windows 10 version 1903. You won’t see this option if you’re using an older release of Windows 10.

Enabling the light theme in Windows 10's Settings app

For the previous Windows 10 default with a dark taskbar and light apps, select “Custom,” set your default Windows mode to “Dark,” and set your default app mode to “Light.” You can also select “Dark” in the color list for a dark desktop complete with dark File Explorer windows.

You can choose whether or not your windows have colored window title bars from this pane, too.

Windows 10's old dark Windows mode and light app mode

If you previously used Windows 10’s default desktop background, it’s been replaced with the shiny new one. But, if you’ve switched to a custom desktop wallpaper, the upgrade won’t change your default background.

To use Windows 10’s shiny new desktop background, head to Settings > Personalization > Background and select it under “Choose Your Picture.”

Selecting Windows 10's new default desktop background

If you don’t see it here for some reason, click the “Browse” button and head to C:\Windows\Web\4K\Wallpaper\Windows. Double-click the img0 file that matches your desktop resolution.

Windows default wallpaper location showing new light wallpaper

The new light theme affects parts of Windows like the taskbar, Start menu, notification popups, and context menus. It won’t affect third-party Windows applications.

RELATED: Everything New in Windows 10's May 2019 Update, Available Now

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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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