How to Change Your Desktop Background in Windows

Four Methods:Windows XPWindows VistaWindows 7/8/8.1Windows Vista/7 Starter

Desktop backgrounds, also know as wallpapers, are the background images on your desktop screen. They are a vital way to reflect your personality and add a certain mood to your computer. Changing your desktop background is an essential step to customizing your computer. If you want to change the background of your desktop in Windows, click the name of your version of Windows, and follow the steps.

Method 1
Windows XP

Via the Control Panel

  1. Image titled Start menu.png
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    Open the Start Menu. Click Start.
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    Open the Control Panel. Click Control Panel in the Start menu.
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    Click Appearance and Themes in Control Panel.
    • If you're viewing Control Panel in Classic View, click Display, which will open Display Properties.
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    Click Display in Control Panel, which will open Display Properties.
    • If you're viewing Control Panel in Classic View, skip this step.
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    Click the tab called Desktop in Display Properties.
  6. Image titled Display properties wallpaper.png
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    Select your desktop background from the tab.
    • How to set an image that came with Windows as your desktop background.
      • Underneath Background in the tab, click the picture you want as your wallpaper.
    • How to set an image on your computer as your desktop background.
      • Click Browse... button, which opens the Browse window.
      • Navigate to the image that you want to use as your desktop background in the Browse window.
      • Select it, and click Open.
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    Set your desktop background display options. Under Position, select how you would like your wallpaper to be shown.
    • Center centers the image without adjusting its size to fit your screen.
    • Stretch stretches images that are too small to fit your screen and shrinks images that are too big to fit your screen to conform it to your screen size and shape.
    • Tile tiles the picture. If the picture is smaller than your screen, choosing this option will stack the picture like tiles as your wallpaper in their original size.
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    Set the selected image as your desktop background. Click OK on the Display Properties window.

Via the Desktop

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    Right-click an empty area on your desktop which opens the context menu.
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    Click Properties in the context menu which opens Display Properties.
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    Click the tab called Desktop in Display Properties.
  4. Image titled Display properties wallpaper.png
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    Select your desktop background from the tab.
    • How to set an image that came with Windows as your desktop background.
      • Underneath Background in the tab, click the picture you want as your wallpaper.
    • How to set an image on your computer as your desktop background.
      • Click Browse... button, which opens the Browse window.
      • Navigate to the image that you want to use as your desktop background in the Browse window.
      • Select it, and click Open.
  5. Image titled Display properties options.png
    5
    Set your desktop background display options. Under Position, select how you would like your wallpaper to be shown.
    • Center centers the image without adjusting its size to fit your screen.
    • Stretch stretches images that are too small to fit your screen and shrinks images that are too big to fit your screen to conform it to your screen size and shape.
    • Tile tiles the picture. If the picture is smaller than your screen, choosing this option will stack the picture like tiles as your wallpaper in their original size.
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    Set the selected image as your desktop background. Click OK on the Display Properties window.

Directly From an Image

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    Right click the desired image, which opens the context menu.
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    Click Open With in the context menu which expands another context menu.
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    Click Windows Picture and Fax Viewer in the context menu.
    • If Windows Picture and Fax Viewer doesn't appear in the context menu, click Choose Program and select Windows Picture and Fax Viewer in the window that appears.
  4. Image titled Set as desktop background direct.png
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    In Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, right click the displayed image and select Set as Desktop Background.

Method 2
Windows Vista

Via Control Panel

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    Open the Start menu. Click the Start button.
  2. Image titled Change Your Desktop Background in Windows Method 2 Submethod 1 Step 2.png
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    Open Control Panel. In the Start menu, click Control Panel.
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    Click Appearance and Personalization in Control Panel.
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    Click Personalization in Control Panel.
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    Click Desktop Background in Control Panel.
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    Select the picture you want to set as your background from Control Panel by clicking it.
    • Expand the combo box next to Location to choose a different location to search for pictures from.
    • If you want to choose a custom image as your desktop background, click Browse... to open the Browse window, select the image, and click Open on the window.
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    Set your desktop background display options. Under How should the picture or video be positioned?, select how you would like your wallpaper to be shown.
    • The first option stretches images that are too small to fit your screen and shrinks images that are too big to fit your screen to conform it to your screen size and shape.
    • The second option will stack the picture like tiles as your wallpaper.
    • The third option centers the image without adjusting its size to fit your screen.
  8. Image titled Change Your Desktop Background in Windows Method 2 Submethod 1 Step 8.png
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    Confirm that you want these settings to be set for your desktop background. Click OK on Control Panel.

Via Desktop

  1. Image titled Change Your Desktop Background in Windows Method 2 Submethod 2 Step 1.png
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    Right click the desktop which opens the context menu.
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    Click Personalize in the context menu to open the Control Panel.
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    Click Desktop Background in Control Panel.
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    Select the picture you want to set as your background from Control Panel by clicking it.
    • Expand the combo box next to Location to choose a different location to search for pictures from.
    • If you want to choose a custom image as your desktop background, click Browse... to open the Browse window, select the image, and click Open on the window.
  5. Image titled Change Your Desktop Background in Windows Method 2 Submethod 1 Step 7.png
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    Set your desktop background display options. Under How should the picture be positioned?, select how you would like your wallpaper to be shown.
    • The first option stretches images that are too small to fit your screen and shrinks images that are too big to fit your screen to conform it to your screen size and shape.
    • The second option will stack the picture like tiles as your wallpaper.
    • The third option centers the image without adjusting its size to fit your screen.
  6. Image titled Change Your Desktop Background in Windows Method 2 Submethod 1 Step 8.png
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    Confirm that you want these settings to be set for your desktop background. Click OK on Control Panel.

Directly From an Image

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    Navigate to the image that you want to set as your desktop background.
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    Right click the file which opens the context menu.
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    Click Set as Desktop Background.

Method 3
Windows 7/8/8.1

Via Control Panel

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    Open the Start menu or Charms bar.
    • In Windows 7, click the Start button in the lower left corner of your screen to open the Start menu.
    • In Windows 8/8.1, press the Win+C keys simultaneously to open the Charms bar.
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    Open the Control Panel.
    • In Windows 7, click Control Panel in the Start menu.
    • In Windows 8/8.1, click Settings in the Charms bar, then Control Panel.
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    Click Appearance and Personalization in Control Panel.
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    Click Change desktop background in Control Panel under Personalization.
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    Select the picture you want to set as your background from Control Panel by clicking it.
    • Open the menu next to Picture Location to choose a different location to search for pictures from.
    • If you want to choose a custom image as your desktop background and it doesn't show up in any of the default locations, click Browse to open the Browse For Folder window, select the folder the image is in, click OK, then select the image from Control Panel.
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    Set your desktop background options.
    • Under Picture position, select how you would like your wallpaper to be shown.
      • Center centers the image without adjusting its size to fit your screen.
      • Stretch stretches or contracts images that are too small to fit your screen and shrinks images that are too big to fit your screen to conform it to your screen size and shape.
      • Tile tiles the picture. If the picture is smaller than your screen, choosing this option will stack the picture like tiles as your wallpaper.
      • Fill resizes the image so the entire image fills your screen vertically but keeps its aspect ratio.
      • Fit resizes the image so the entire image fills your screen horizontally but keeps its aspect ratio.
    • Create a desktop background slideshow if you want to.
      • Use the check boxes on the pictures in the Control Panel window to select multiple ones.
      • Choose the interval at which the pictures change. Under Change picture every, select how fast you want the slideshow to progress.
      • Check the Shuffle box to show the pictures in random order.
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    Confirm that you want these settings to be set for your desktop background. Click Save Changes on Control Panel.
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    Finished.

Via Desktop

  1. Image titled Via Desktop 1.png
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    Right-click the Desktop to open the context menu.
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    Click Personalize (at the very bottom), which opens the personalization section of the Control Panel.
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    Click Desktop Background in Control Panel.
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    Select the picture you want to set as your background from Control Panel by clicking it.
    • Open the menu next to Picture Location to choose a different location to search for pictures from.
    • If you want to choose a custom image as your desktop background, and it doesn't show up in any of the default locations, click Browse to open the Browse For Folder window, select the folder the image is in, click OK and then select the image from Control Panel.
  5. Image titled Via Desktop 5.png
    5
    Set your desktop background options.
    • Under Picture position, select how you would like your wallpaper to be shown.
      • Center centers the image without adjusting its size to fit your screen.
      • Stretch stretches or contracts images that are too small or big to fit your screen and shrinks images that are too big to fit your screen to conform it to your screen size and shape.
      • Tile tiles the picture. If the picture is smaller than your screen, choosing this option will stack the picture like tiles as your wallpaper.
      • Fill resizes the image so the entire image fills your screen vertically but keeps its aspect ratio.
      • Fit resizes the image so the entire image fills your screen horizontally but keeps its aspect ratio.
    • Create a desktop background slideshow if you want to.
      • Use the check boxes on the pictures in the Control Panel window to select multiple ones.
      • Choose the interval at which the pictures change. Under Change picture every, select how fast you want the slideshow to progress.
      • Check the Shuffle box to show the pictures in random order.
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    Confirm that you want these settings to be set for your desktop background. Click Save Changes on Control Panel.
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    If you wish to change the settings (e.g. to stop it from tiling), follow one of the above methods. Rather than selecting a new wallpaper image, go directly to the settings.

Directly From an Image

Set a desktop background as any image from your computer.

  1. Image titled Via File Explorer 1.png
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    Open Windows Explorer.
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    Navigate to the image that you want to set as a desktop background.
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    Right click the file which brings up the context menu.
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    Click Set as Desktop Background.
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    Finished.

Method 4
Windows Vista/7 Starter

Windows Starter Edition computers cannot change their wallpaper normally. For a guide on how to change wallpapers in Windows Starter Edition, click here.

Tips

  • If you're not sure whether a wallpaper you downloaded is a safe file, visit VirusTotal, a free online virus scanning website, and upload the file, or scan it with an antivirus.
  • Many wallpaper websites are malicious, so stay safe on Google Images or be wary when surfing wallpaper-dedicated websites.

Warnings

  • Do not trust any websites that instruct you to run the downloaded file to set the wallpaper, because that is a red flag of a virus.
  • If a "wallpaper" that you downloaded is not in an image format, delete the file immediately, because it's probably a virus.

Article Info

Categories: Windows