Windows 7 provides plenty of internal options to change the look and feel of your computer. It’s easy to give the operating system a unique style and at the same time enhance your experience as a user. For most of the coolest ways to customize Windows 7, you don’t even have to mess with hacks or additional software.
Let me show you how you can dress up your installation of Windows 7 and make using your computer a visual and functional joy.
1. Change The Welcome Screen
There are two basic things you can change that will affect the welcome screen. First of all, you can change your profile picture. Secondly, you can apply a hack or software to change the background image.
To change your profile picture, go to > Start and type > User Accounts into the bar that says > Search programs and files, then open the respective entry under > Control Panel. Next, select > Change your picture. You can now choose a default image or click > Browse for more pictures… at the bottom of the list to access your own files.
Once you have selected an image click the > Change Picture button and you’re done.
To change the logon screen manually, check out the procedure described in this article - How To Change Windows 7 Logon Screen
Using a tool rather than the manual steps doesn’t make you less geeky. Rather it will save you time and give you access to further logon page customization options, for example changing buttons or Windows branding. Simon has reviewed three programs here - The Best Ways To Customize The Welcome Screen In Windows 7.
2. Add Desktop Gadgets
Gadgets are tiny tools that sit on your desktop. They add functionality and quickly let you complete tasks without launching a large program. Some of my three favorite Windows 7 gadgets are:
- Clipboard Manager - Manage your clipboard history, search entries, store favorite clips, and more.
- Skype Gadget - Keep a minimized Skype interface on your desktop and save space.
- The Magic Folder - Automatically sort files into pre-defined folders based on their file extension.
To browse, discover, and install gadgets, visit the Windows Live Gadget Gallery. To launch existing gadgets, go to > Start and type > Desktop Gadgets into the bar that says > Search programs and files, then open the respective entry under > Control Panel.
Also have a look at The 7 Best Windows 7 Gadgets and the Top 7 Coolest Windows 7 Desktop Gadgets You Have To Use.
3. Change The Windows Theme
Changing the theme will have the greatest impact on your system in terms of look and feel. And you’ll be surprised how easy it is. > Right-click desktop and select > Personalize. You can now select a default theme, get more themes online, or create your own.
For some suggestions and detailed instructions on how to create your own custom theme, open this article: Top 5 Windows 7 Themes You Might Want To Try.
4. Create A Custom Desktop Slideshow
To add some variety to your desktop or showcase your own photos, you can create a custom desktop slideshow that will regularly change your wallpaper.
> Right-click desktop, select > Personalize, and click on > Desktop Background. To create a slideshow, you need to select any entry from the > Picture location drop-down menu other than the default ‘Solid Colors’. Now > Browse for the folder that holds your pictures, > Select the ones you like, choose a > Picture position and time interval to > Change picture. Finally click the > Save changes button and enjoy.
Like the > Desktop Background you can also customize > Window Color and > Sounds and so create your own custom theme. Don’t forget to > Save theme!
5. Add Toolbars To Taskbar & Enable Quick Launch Bar
A toolbar located in your taskbar can provide instant access to often used programs, for example iTunes. Simply > right click Taskbar, expand > Toolbars, and check the ones you would like to see.
For those mourning the Windows XP Quick Launch bar, don’t despair. There is a hack to bring it back. Follow the same steps outlined above and select > New toolbar…, enter the following path > %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch and click > Select Folder. The Quick Launch bar will appear, but it needs more customization. > Right-click Quick Launch and uncheck > Show title and > Show Text to make it more compact. You can also uncheck > Lock the taskbar and then > drag and drop Quick Launch into place.
Even more cool ways to customize your Windows 7 experience using easy hacks and some cool tricks can be found in the following article series:
What is your favorite feature of Windows 7? Did you go the extra mile to create a unique style and user experience? Please share your tips in the comments.