How to: change the look of Windows 7

by David Nield on November 23, 2010

Windows 7 includes a number of options for changing the look of the operating system.

Through each edition, Windows has offered the user more and more customisation options for changing the look of the operating system and its interface. It’s now possible to take almost full control over the colours, graphics and sounds used by Windows, and each user can have his or her own desktop design associated with the relevant user account. If you’ve never modified the look of Windows before, it isn’t difficult to do, and your changes can be easily undone if required. Below we’ve looked at the three main customisations you can make; these can be saved together as themes if you want to be able to access them quickly again later on.

The desktop wallpaper can be changed in a couple of clicks.

Change the desktop wallpaper – You’ll be spending a lot of time staring at the desktop wallpaper, so it makes sense to have something that you’re comfortable with. Any image can be used as a background, and Windows will either tile or stretch it to fit the space – alternatively, you can resize and crop the picture using a photo editor to exactly fit the dimensions of your screen. New in Windows 7 is the ability to have a slideshow of photos that automatically change after a set interval of time. It is possible to change the logon and shutdown wallpapers too, but this requires some third-party software. Visit Control Panel/ Appearance and Personalisation/ Personalisation/ Desktop Background to make the changes.

Windows colour and transparency can be adjusted.

Adjust window colour and transparency - when you first install Windows 7, a blue ‘Sky’ colour will be assigned to the application and folder windows, which will be semi-transparent. This colour and transparency can be changed via Control Panel/ Appearance and Personalisation/ Personalisation/ Window Colour and Appearance – the advanced settings dialog gives you even more control over the design and colour of the Windows interface.

There is the option to set which icons appear on the desktop.

Change the icons on the desktop - If your Windows desktop is too cluttered, then you can hide some of the system icons that appear. Click the Change desktop icons link on the left of the Control Panel/ Appearance and Personalisation/ Personalisation screen and you can choose to show or conceal icons for Computer, the current user, Network, Recycle Bin and Control Panel. If you’d like to, you can stop any installed themes from overriding these settings.

(For a full guide to Windows 7, order the Essential Windows 7 Handbook 4th Edition, on sale now from newsagents and online.)

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