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Chapter 4. Personalizing Your Work Envir... > Changing Your Desktop Background

Changing Your Desktop Background

You can change the image, or wallpaper, that appears under the icons on your desktop. If you don’t like the desktop backgrounds that Windows or your PC manufacturer provide, you can use a file of your own.

To change the desktop background

Choose Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Themes > Display Properties > Desktop tab (Figure 4.6).

Figure 4.6. Use the Desktop tab to select an image or browse for an HTML page as your desktop background.


Right-click an empty area on the desktop; then choose Properties > Desktop tab.

Select an image from the Background list or click Browse to hunt for an image file on your computer or the network.

Windows looks for Background files in the My Pictures, \Windows, and \Windows\Web\Wallpaper folders. (\Windows is named \WINNT on some systems.)

Select the file’s icon in Windows Explorer; then click Set As Desktop Background in the Picture Tasks section of the task pane (Figure 4.7).

Figure 4.7. A picture folder is one for which the Pictures or Photo Album folder-type template has been applied on the Customize tab of the folder’s Properties dialog box.

From the Position drop-down list, choose one of these options:

Center to center the image on the desktop background.

Tile to repeat the image over the entire screen. This option works best with small images.

Stretch to resize the image to fit your screen (with some distortion). This option works best with large images and photos.

Select a desktop color to fill the space, if any, unoccupied by a picture.


Select a predefined color or click Other to specify a custom color.

Click OK (or Apply).

✓ Tips

  • To display a solid desktop color with no picture, select None in the Back-ground list.

  • To use a web image as wallpaper, right-click the image in Internet Explorer; then choose Set As Background. The downloaded image appears as Internet Explorer Background in the Background list. Each new internet image you define as a background replaces the old one.

  • To use a web image as your permanent background, right-click the image in Internet Explorer; choose Save Picture As; save the image in My Pictures or a folder of your own; then proceed as described.

  • To place live web content on your desktop, see the next section.

Resizing Desktop Images

The Stretch function of Display Properties is handy, although the results sometimes are amusing. But digital-camera photos can be larger than your screen—demonstrating the lack of a matching Squish function. Here’s how to detect and deal with the problem:

Right-click an empty area of your desktop; then choose Properties > Settings tab.

In the Screen Resolution box (bottom left), note the number of pixels (for example, 1024 × 768).

Find the icon or thumbnail of the image that you want to use for wall-paper, and hover the pointer over it until its file-information tool tip appears. (Alternatively, right-click the icon and choose Properties > Summary tab > Advanced button.)

Dimensions gives the image’s width and height size in pixels (for example, 1600 × 1200).

If the image’s dimensions exceed your computer’s screen resolution, Windows fills your screen with the center portion of the image, and the edges go wherever leftover pixels go. This result will be fine with you if the image edges are uninteresting. But if you want the uncropped image to be your wallpaper, make a copy and use the Resize function of your favorite graphics program to shrink it to the same size as your screen (or close).

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