How to customize your computer background

For many knowledge workers the background image or “wallpaper” on our computer desktop is something we see many times every day. The stock patterns and nature photos that come with your computer are nice, but one of the easiest ways to advertise to yourself is to take control of that image.

Find a new background image

There are several places to find a new picture for your background:

  • You may have a picture file on your computer that you took it with your digital camera.
  • Perhaps someone emailed a photo to you,
  • You can download a picture from any website.
  • If you are looking for something specific you can usually find it with Google Image Search or Flickr.

Configure your computer

Set your Windows background from a picture on a website

  1. Click on the picture or picture file with your right mouse button. A context menu will pop up offering a list of options.
  2. From that menu, select Set As Desktop Background…
  3. Make a selection from the Position drop-down list (see the choices below).
  4. Click Set Desktop Background.

Set your Windows background from a picture file or email attachment

  1. Click on the picture or picture file with your right mouse button. A context menu will pop up offering a list of options.
  2. From that menu, select Set As Desktop Background…

Notice that with this method you are not offered the choice to set the position of the picture, as you did with step 3 above. You can access the Position and Color options later by right-clicking on your desktop and choosing Properties, then Desktop.

Set your Macintosh background from a picture file on your computer

  1. Open System Preferences (usually from the Dock, depending on your Mac OS version).
  2. Under Personal, choose Desktop & Screen Saver
  3. You can change either you desktop or screen saver. For now, choose Desktop.
  4. Navigate to the photo you want to use for your background and click on it. Your background will change.
  5. Choose one of the options for how it should appear on the screen: Fill Screen, Stretch, Center or Tile.

Choose how to position the picture

Windows users have three choices about how the picture will display:

  • Center – This is usually the best choice. A large image such a photo from your digital camera will resize itself to fit the screen. If the size of the picture is smaller that the screen it will be placed in the center. You can adjust the color of the rest of the screen with the Color button.
  • Tile – This sometimes works well for small pictures, too. It repeats the picture to fill the whole screen. It might be an effective way to display something like the logo of a place you want to work.
  • Stretch – Another way to deal with pictures that are smaller than your screen. As the name says, it will stretch the image to fill the size of the screen. It works pretty well with landscape oriented photographs, but since it does not maintain the aspect ratio (proportions) you can get some pretty weird results.

Macintosh users have a fourth choice:

    Fill Screen – similar to Stretch, but it maintains the proportions of the picture.

What are the best photos to use for your background?

It turns out this may not be the best place to put ads that are personal in nature. I used a big picture of myself working out at the gym for a few days and found the photo of my out-of-shape self pretty alarming! While in some cases that might be motivating, I noticed myself having a very negative response any time I thought someone else might see my screen. I think I’ll look for another place for that picture.

On the other hand, it’s a great place to put pictures of places you’d like to work, live or visit on vacation.

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  1. Posted May 21, 2009 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    like how do u set like a sentence floating around as a bachgrownd

  2. Lynn
    Posted May 21, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    If you’re using Windows go to Control Panel > Display > Screen Saver and select the screen saver type “Marquee”. Then configure your message with Settings.

  3. Anonymous
    Posted October 28, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    you right click and then you push pesonalize and push screen saver and then do the 3-d text.

  4. Gabriel P.
    Posted January 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Im using windows 7 and I cant put a wallpaper on my desktop

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