How-To Geek

Learning Windows 7: Desktop Themes and Backgrounds

When getting a new Windows computer, the first thing many people do is tweak the background and themes to change the look and feel. In this article we will show you how to change themes and backgrounds, find hidden themes, and create a background slideshow on your desktop.

Change Themes and Backgrounds

Here we take a look at the default theme for Windows 7. It’s actually not that bad looking and some of you may want to keep it.

1 default

If you want to customize the look and feel of Windows 7, a great place to start is with Themes and Backgrounds. To change the appearance right click an empty area on the desktop and select Personalize.


In the screen that opens you can go through and try out different ones from Aero Themes to High Contrast Themes.


For example here we take a look at the Landscapes Aero Theme. You’ll notice it changes the Background and color of the window border colors. It also changes the sounds specific to the Landscapes theme.


The Background will change images periodically. You can adjust time intervals by going into Personalization and clicking on Desktop Background, which will be set to Slide Show by default.


Here you can decide which background pictures are shown, how often they change, and the picture position. In this example one of the Landscapes pictures is unselected, it will change every 10 minutes, and are set to shuffle.


You don’t have to use the pictures for the specific Themes either. You can go through all of the pictures and select the ones you want in different categories like something in Characters for example.


There are several different default pictures to choose from. Click the Picture location drop down menu to explore different categories.


Create a Custom Theme

So now you’ve played around with the default pictures and themes but you want to make your own and customize it up a bit. You can use your own pictures…click on the Browse button then navigate to the directory where your pictures are located.


Then the images in that folder will be displayed and you can use them for backgrounds.


Once you have a picture selected for the Background Screen you can then start customizing other features like the Window color.


You have several choices of different colors and can mix them around to get it to your liking.


You can change the sounds of your theme too.


Here you can go through different sound schemes and see how they will sound for different program events like logon, system notifications, low battery alarm…etc.


You might also want to select a screensaver to go along with the theme.


Choose the Screen Saver you want to use and customize its settings then hit OK.


If you end up with a theme you like you can save it under the My Themes category.


You can also share your custom themes with friends, family, and co-workers. Right-click on the theme you want to share and select Save theme for sharing.


Give it a name and it will be stored in My Documents folder, then you can share it with your family via Homegroup or email the file to them.


To use the custom theme, they will just need to double click on the theme pack file.


Create Background Slide Show

By this time you have probably figured out that you can easily create a customized Background Slide Show. This comes in handy while you’re at work or home and want to easily show off some pictures. Or you just might be bored and want to play around with the settings. We already have a guide that you can read — How To Turn Your Desktop into a Picture Slideshow in Windows 7.


Discover Hidden Themes

Usually the version of Windows 7 you receive includes region specific themes based on your country and language. You can access other regional Aero themes that are hidden deep in the system also. In the example below it’s a theme for South Africa. To find out how to access these hidden themes read our article – Access Hidden Regional Themes in Windows 7.



This guide should get you started using the themes feature in Windows 7. You might find something appealing with the default themes offered by Microsoft, but the real fun comes when you create your own. If you’re looking for some awesome wallpapers to use in creating your own themes, check out our list of collections below. Have fun!

How-To Geek Awesome Wallpaper Collections

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 01/11/10

Comments (11)

  1. Cheryle

    The Screen position box is a little hard to understand. Sometimes my pictures come out blurry others smaller than the screen. I’ve tried all the positions but can’t tell the difference. Also do you know of any free programs one can fix pictures into nice clear looking wallpapers?

  2. Mysticgeek

    @Cheryle: All of the backgrounds included with Windows 7 are high quality and shouldn’t look blurry. If you’re using your own pictures, if they are lower resolution and you try to make them larger then they might end up being blurry.
    You could use The Gimp… and apply a smooth filter to the images…

    I haven’t tried this myself, but I have heard good things about converting images to scalable Vector Art with a service like Vector Magic..

  3. jpmays

    Dude… I really love your web site and enjoy reading all of your articles… but… this particular one is nothing really new. You’ve already discussed this stuff in other individual article… in other words there is nothing new here. Basically what you’ve done is combined portions of your other articles into one. I’m somewhat disappointed! I’m just saying…


  4. ComputerSupport

    Great tutorial for beginers)

  5. Dot

    I have a problem with the picture position. I change it to center, fill, tile, but for some reason no matter what I do it goes back to stretch. I don’t want stretch. Can you please help me?

  6. lilyciao

    I’m having a problem with an image I made for my background. My screen resolution is 1280×800 and I made the picture the same. Yet, when I set it as the background, it’s blurred, as if stretched.
    Someone suggested that I upload the picture online and then set it as my desktop, which worked. But when I close my browser, the image is blurred again after switching themes. (I have the one design in two colours, both of which appear blurred, so I switch the theme to check both.)

    How can I fix this?

  7. Peter

    :-O What is that naked WHORE up there ?!?!?
    Do you really want to tell me, that somewhere in my comp. this piece of disgusting shit is sitting ?
    M? Where i could find what’s installed (preliminary) in my Windows 7 ?
    Coz i want to remove all these shamelessness from my privacy !

    Thanks in advance
    P.Tenev, Bulgaria

  8. Carlos

    Solve blury background problem
    by clicking on the thumbnail in google image search,
    THEN set the image as background

  9. eve

    my pc doesnt have background pictures. only software i can use?

  10. nessim



    It’s a great job. Thank for like. :)

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