Wallpaper Your Computer

March 9, 2009

When you login to your computer, you get a screen with a bunch of icons on it. This is called the Windows Desktop. The desktop background can be easily changed to most any picture, pattern, or color. This used to be called wallpaper back in the early days of Windows, but the term desktop background has replaced that term.


If you have a photo you really like, you can generally use that for your desktop background. The easiest way to do this is to go and find the picture. Click on Start and then click on My Pictures if you have XP. For Vista, click on Start and then click on Pictures. When you find the picture, right-click on it and choose “Set as Desktop Background” from the pop-up menu. When you do this, the picture will be shown on the screen. Any icons on the screen will be on top of the photo. Be aware that some desktop backgrounds make it difficult to see your icons.


Once you get the photo set as your desktop background, you may find you need to tweak it a bit. Perhaps the photo isn’t taking up the whole screen. Or maybe you are only seeing a small portion of the photo as if the photo is too big for the screen. This is easy to fix. Right-click on a blank area of the desktop. If you have XP choose “Properties” from the pop-up menu. If you have Vista, choose “Personalize”. For XP, click on the desktop tab. In Vista, click on “Desktop Background”


Now you can tell Windows how to position the picture. In XP, change the position to “Stretch”. In Vista, look at the bottom of the window where it says “How should the picture or video be positioned?” Hold the mouse pointer over each one and it will tell you what it is. Some of the options are fit to screen, crop, maintain aspect ratio, and more. Play with them to get it the way  you want it.


What this option does is tell Windows to make the photo take up the whole screen. That means if the picture is too big, it will shrink it down to fit. If the picture is too small, it will blow it up to fit. There are some drawbacks to this. If you use a really small picture, when windows blows it up, the picture is going to look really grainy and bad. And if you have a widescreen monitor, the picture will be distorted to make it fit.


In this same screen, you can choose one of the desktop backgrounds that comes with windows. You can also choose to just display a color instead of a picture.


By the way, in some versions of Vista, you can choose a video to be the desktop background. This sounds cool at first, but there are two major drawbacks. The first drawback is that using a video for your desktop background takes a lot of system resources and will slow your computer down if you don’t have a powerful computer. The second drawback is that it’s just plain distracting.

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