HomeWinBuzzer TipsHow to Change the Desktop Background on Windows 11 or Windows 10

How to Change the Desktop Background on Windows 11 or Windows 10

We show you how to change the Desktop Background on Windows 11 and Windows 10 using the dark and light theme, a desktop wallpaper, solid colors othe slideshow feature.

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and come with various desktop background options to suit your style and mood. One of the most noticeable changes in Windows 11 from Windows 10 was the new default desktop background, which features a blue gradient with a glowing Windows logo in the center. This background is designed to evoke a sense of calmness and clarity, and it works well for any situation where you want to focus on your tasks and minimize distractions.

Alternatives to the Default Windows Desktop Wallpaper

You might want to switch to a dark-mode desktop background, which is similar to the default one but with a darker color scheme. This background is ideal for working at night or in low-light environments, as it reduces eye strain and saves battery life. You can also use this background if you prefer a more minimalist and elegant look for your desktop.

If you want to add some color and vibrancy to your desktop, you can one abstract and artistic background wallpaper that comes with Windows 11 and Windows 10. These backgrounds feature various shapes, patterns, and textures in different hues and tones, creating a dynamic and visually appealing effect. You can use these backgrounds to express your personality and creativity or to match your mood and preferences.

Alternatively, you can opt for a more realistic and natural desktop background, such as a landscape, a cityscape, or an animal. Microsofts offers a selection of high-quality themes and desktop backgrounds in the Microsoft Store that capture the beauty and diversity of nature and culture around the world. You can use these backgrounds to inspire yourself and appreciate our planet's wonders.

Of course, you can also customize your desktop background with photos or images you download from the internet. Windows 11 and Windows 10 make it easy to change your desktop background whenever you want, so you can always have something new and fresh to look at.

The Difference Between Windows Desktop Backgrounds and Windows Themes

Windows themes are more than just desktop backgrounds. They are a combination of personalization settings for desktop background, accent color, dark or light mode, mouse cursor style, and sometimes even a different sound scheme. Windows Themes can give your PC a consistent and harmonious look and feel. You can choose from a default theme or download new themes from Microsoft Store that feature cute critters, breathtaking landscapes, and other smile-inducing options.

How To Change the Desktop Background in Windows 11 and Windows 10

The quickest way to change the Windows Desktop background is the following method from the desktop itself. If you want to change your theme, go to Settings > Personalization > Themes and select the theme you want. You can save a custom theme by scrolling down in Settings > Personalization and clicking “Themes”.

  1. Right-click the Windows desktop on an empty area and click “Personalize”
     
    Windows 11 - Desktop - Context Menu - Personalize
  2. Click “Background” in “Windows Settings – Personalization”
     
    Windows 11 - Desktop - Context Menu - Personalize - Background
  3. Select “Picture”, “Solid color” or “Slideshow” depending of your preference
     
    Here we show you all different options separately one after another, starting with the “Picture” setting.
     

  4. Click “Browse photos” after selecting “Picture”
     
    Windows 11 - Desktop - Context Menu - Personalize - Background - Personalize your Background - Picture - Recent Image or Browse Photos
  5. Click “Choose a fit for your desktop image” and select how the image should be used
     

    Fill: This option adjusts the size of the image to cover the entire screen without changing its aspect ratio. If the image is smaller or larger than the screen resolution, it will be stretched or compressed accordingly.

    Fit: This option scales the image to fit the screen while maintaining its aspect ratio. If the image is smaller or larger than the screen resolution, it will be centered with black borders on the sides or top and bottom.

    Stretch: This option stretches the image to fill the screen regardless of its aspect ratio. This may result in distortion or loss of quality if the image is smaller or larger than the screen resolution.

    Tile: This option repeats the image across the screen as tiles. If the image is smaller than the screen resolution, it will be displayed multiple times. If the image is larger than the screen resolution, only a portion of it will be visible.

    Center: This option places the image in the center of the screen without resizing it. If the image is smaller than the screen resolution, it will be surrounded by black borders. if the image is larger than the screen resolution, only a portion of it will be visible.

    Span: This option stretches a single image across multiple monitors as one large desktop. This option only works if you have more than one monitor connected to your computer and they have the same resolution and orientation.
     
    Windows 11 - Desktop - Context Menu - Personalize - Background - Personalize your Background - Choose a Fit

  6. For “Solid color” you can either choose one of the presets or choose “Custom colors”
     
    Windows 11 - Desktop - Context Menu - Personalize - Background - Personalize your Background - Solid Color - Choose or Custom
  7. “Slideshow” allows you set a folder with images to choose from and an interval
     
    You can let Windows change the picture automatically from 1 minute up  to once per day. Per default, Windows will change the pictures chronologically based on their filename. Alternatively, you can choose “Shuffle the picture order”, which is neat for extensive image sets.
     
    Windows 11 - Desktop - Context Menu - Personalize - Background - Personalize your Background - Slideshow - Browse - Choose Change Time
  8. When using the slide-show feature, you can force-change the desktop background manually
     
    To do this, right-click the Windows desktop and select “Next desktop background” in the context menu.
     
    Windows 11 - Desktop - Context Menu - Personalize - Slideshow - Desktop - Context Menu - Next Desktop Background
  9. “Windows Spotlight” will automatically load images from the internet and change them daily
     
    Windows Spotlight is a feature that allows you to customize your lock screen and desktop background with curated beautiful and informative images. These images are downloaded from Bing and change daily, giving you a fresh and inspiring view every time you log in. Windows Spotlight also shows you tips and suggestions on how to use Windows 11 or Windows 10 more effectively on the lock screen.
     

How to Set a Video as a Live Desktop Wallpaper in Windows 11 and Windows 10

While Windows 97 and XP let users easily set a moving image as their background, in Windows 11 and Windows 10 that's not the case anymore. However, while live wallpapers have been discontinued, you can bypass this using the methods shown in our other guide to set a video as a live desktop wallpaper.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions About The Windows Desktop Background

How can I lock my desktop background so others cannot change it?

To prevent unauthorized changes to the desktop background, especially in a shared or corporate environment, you can utilize the Group Policy Editor in Windows Pro, Enterprise, or Education versions. Press Win + R, type gpedit.msc, and hit Enter to open the Group Policy Editor. Navigate to User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Personalization and locate the “Prevent changing desktop background” setting. Double-click it, set it to “Enabled“, and apply the changes. This policy will restrict all users from changing the desktop background through the Control Panel or Settings app.

How do I reduce battery consumption with my desktop background settings on a laptop?

To optimize battery usage related to your desktop background, consider setting a solid color background, as it requires less power to display compared to complex images or live wallpapers. Navigate to Settings > Personalization > Background and select “Solid color” from the background options. Choosing darker colors can further reduce power consumption, particularly on OLED or AMOLED screens. Additionally, disable the slideshow feature if enabled, as it can consume more power by frequently accessing the hard drive and using the CPU to change wallpapers.

Can I use a website as my desktop background in Windows 11 or Windows 10?

While Windows doesn't directly support setting a live website as a desktop background, third-party applications like “Wallpaper Engine” or “DeskScapes” can provide this functionality. These applications allow you to use web pages, videos, and even interactive web applications as your desktop wallpaper. After installing the software, follow its instructions to set a website URL as your background, keeping in mind that this could increase CPU usage and affect system performance.

How do I set a panoramic image as my desktop background across dual monitors?

To set a panoramic image across dual monitors, ensure your image has a high resolution and an aspect ratio that matches the combined resolution of both screens. Go to Settings > Personalization > Background, select “Picture” and then choose your panoramic image. Select the “Span” option under “Choose a fit for your desktop image” to stretch the image across both monitors. For best results, both monitors should have the same resolution and be positioned side by side in the display settings.

Is there a way to automatically change the desktop background based on the time of day?

Windows itself does not include a feature to change the desktop background based on the time of day, but you can achieve this by creating multiple scheduled tasks. Open Task Scheduler, create a new task, and under the “Triggers” tab, set it to start at a specific time. Under “Actions“, choose “Start a program” and use a script or command line that changes the wallpaper. Repeat this process for each time of day you want the wallpaper to change. This method requires basic scripting knowledge and might involve using PowerShell scripts or third-party command-line tools.

How do I set a desktop background that adapts to my current light or dark mode setting?

To have your desktop background adapt to your system's light or dark mode, you'll need to manually select and switch between two different wallpapers corresponding to your light and dark themes. While Windows does not automatically switch desktop backgrounds when changing modes, you can quickly change your wallpaper by right-clicking an image file and selecting “Set as desktop background” to match your current theme. Alternatively, explore third-party software that might automate this process based on theme changes.

Can I add filters or effects to my desktop background directly in Windows?

Windows does not offer built-in tools for applying filters or effects directly to your desktop background. To customize your wallpaper with effects, use photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, or even online editors to apply desired filters or adjustments. Save the edited image and set it as your desktop background through the Personalization settings. This method allows for creative customization, though it requires external tools and a bit of editing knowledge.

How do I synchronize my desktop background across all my Windows devices?

To synchronize your desktop background across multiple Windows devices, ensure you're signed in with the same account on each device. Go to Settings > Accounts > Sync your settings and turn on the “Theme” toggle under “Individual sync settings“. This will synchronize your desktop background, color scheme, and other theme elements across all devices where you're signed in. Note that this feature depends on your network connection and might not be instant.

What's the easiest way to convert a video to a live desktop wallpaper?

Converting a video to a live desktop wallpaper typically requires third-party software, as Windows does not support video wallpapers natively. Applications like “Wallpaper Engine” and “DeskScapes” are popular choices that allow you to use videos as your desktop background. After installing your chosen software, import your video file through the application's interface and adjust settings like playback speed, sound, and screen fit as desired. These applications often support a wide range of video formats and offer additional customization options.

How do I ensure my desktop background does not distract from my icons and shortcuts?

To maintain clarity and visibility of your desktop icons and shortcuts against your background, opt for wallpapers with simple designs or uniform colors in areas where icons are positioned. Avoid overly detailed or busy backgrounds, especially in the parts of the screen where you keep your icons. You can also organize your icons in groups and place them on parts of the wallpaper with less detail or contrast. Additionally, adjusting icon spacing and size can also help improve visibility against complex backgrounds.

Can I set an interactive calendar or clock as my desktop background?

Setting an interactive element like a calendar or clock directly into your desktop background isn't supported in Windows. However, you can use desktop gadgets or third-party applications to overlay these elements on your desktop. Software like “Rainmeter” allows for highly customizable skins, including calendars and clocks, which can visually integrate with your background. Keep in mind these applications run on top of your desktop and may consume additional system resources.

How do I fix a stretched or distorted desktop background image?

To correct a stretched or distorted desktop background, ensure the image's aspect ratio matches your screen's resolution. Right-click on the desktop, select “Personalize“, then “Background“, and choose “Picture“. When selecting your image, use the “Choose a fit” dropdown to select “Fill“, “Fit“, or “Stretch” based on your preference and the image's aspect ratio. “Fill” will expand the image to fill the screen while maintaining its aspect ratio, possibly cropping parts of the image, while “Fit” ensures the entire image is visible without distortion, adding borders if necessary.

Is it possible to set a desktop background that automatically changes with the weather?

Direct integration of live weather updates into the desktop background isn't a feature available in Windows. For a dynamic background that changes with the weather, third-party applications are required. Some live wallpaper apps offer weather-based themes that change according to current conditions, but these require an active internet connection to fetch live data and might affect system performance.

How can I make my desktop background more accessible or easier to see?

For an accessible desktop background, select high-contrast images with bold colors and simple patterns. Avoid backgrounds with excessive detail or similar color tones to your desktop icons to ensure readability. Windows also offers accessibility settings under Settings > Ease of Access, where you can adjust text size, contrast, and other visual options to complement your background for better visibility.

Can I use an SVG file as my desktop background?

While Windows does not natively support SVG files for desktop backgrounds, you can convert an SVG file to a compatible format such as JPEG or PNG using image editing software or online conversion tools. Ensure the converted image maintains a high resolution for clarity on your desktop. After conversion, set the image as your desktop background through the Personalization settings by selecting “Picture” and navigating to your converted image file.


Extra: How to Save Windows 10 Spotlight Images and Find Their Location

Windows Spotlight is a great tool to add some variety to your PC. It displays a different background image nearly every day, and they are frequently beautiful. In fact, they're so nice you may be wondering how to save Windows Spotlight images for use as a desktop background. Unfortunately, this isn't as easy as you might expect, as there is no easy option to save spotlight images directly. But in our other guide, we show you how to find the Windows spotlight images location and to save the images automatically if you want to.
 

Extra: Windows Spotlight Not Working? Fix It with a Reset or Re-Register

Unfortunately, Windows spotlight isn´t without its issues, and many users find that Windows spotlight is not working or gets stuck. In the latter scenario, users will notice that their Windows 10 spotlight images are not changing. You can be stuck with the same lock screen image for eternity unless you take action. Others run into more serious issues like a Windows spotlight blue screen or a “Windows spotlight is not available” error. In our other guide, we show you how you can fix Windows Spotlight easily.
 
Windows Spotlight Not Working? Fix It with a Reset or Re-Register

Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus Kasanmascheff
Markus is the founder of WinBuzzer and has been playing with Windows and technology for more than 25 years. He is holding a Master´s degree in International Economics and previously worked as Lead Windows Expert for Softonic.com.