10 Quick Ways to Customize & Personalize Windows 10

Skye Hudson 24-08-2015

With Windows 10 finally here Make Today Your Launch Day: Get Windows 10 Now! You're eager to install Windows 10. Unfortunately, you missed the Insider Preview and now it's taking a while until the upgrade will be rolled out to you. Here's how to get Windows 10 now! Read More and available for the public to download, it’s time we look at all the possible ways to customize this new operating system.


There are a surprising number of personalization options available, but they can be tricky to find on your own. That’s why we’ve compiled a simple, step-by-step guide to help you access everything quickly and easily.

Let’s get started.


Windows 8 could be improved by better backgrounds How To Customize Windows 8 Desktop With Wallpapers, Windows Themes & More Not happy with the Windows 8 look? It only takes 5 minutes to fix that! We show you how to change the desktop wallpaper, add themes, resurrect the start menu, and more. Read More , and the same goes for Windows 10. The biggest difference is that the option for tweaking the background has been moved from the desktop-style Control Panel to the modern-style Settings app.

To get there, you’ll want to open the Start Menu (either by clicking on it in the lower-left or pressing the Windows key on your keyboard) and select Settings.



From there, select Personalization.


Once in the Personalization menu, you should find that Background is the first option and already selected. From there, you have three different choices of backgrounds available via a drop-down menu: picture, solid color, or slideshow.


If you just want to have one photo stay as your background image, choose this option. The only amount of customization you’ll get aside from choosing your photo is how you want that photo to fit.


picture background options

If your photo is the correct dimensions for a background (some kind of 16×9 resolution, like 1920×1080), then Fill, Fit, and Stretch will all look exactly the same to you. But here is a breakdown of all the differences between these options.

Fill: Makes sure the entire background is covered by the photo. No empty spaces or black bars. Doesn’t stretch photos, so they retain their correct aspect ratio, but parts may be cut off.

Fit: Also doesn’t stretch photos, but it doesn’t cut off any part of the photo, so you may have blank spaces or black bars surrounding your photo on two sides.


Stretch: Stretch does exactly what Fit does, but then it stretches the photo either vertically or horizontally to fill in the blank spaces. This can result in warped photos.

Tile: Repeats the photo both horizontally and vertically. Best for small photos that can appear multiple times on the screen. Keeps the proper aspect ratio and size without stretching or shrinking the photo.

Center: Places your photo smack-dab in the center of the background, surrounded by blank space. Doesn’t change aspect ratio or size. If it’s a small photo, there will be a lot of blank space. If it’s a large photo, it might be incredibly zoomed in to the center of that photo.

Span: This is best for multiple monitors Finally Get Two Functional Desktops With Actual Multiple Monitors Once you have tried working with a dual monitor setup, you'll never go back. While two monitors give you double the workspace and boost productivity, I found the setup is never perfect. In the end,... Read More , because it allows you to have one photo fit across multiple displays.


Solid Color

This option pretty much speaks for itself: it replaces your background with a single color. Unfortunately, you only have 24 options here.

background colors

But, if you want a simple, no frills desktop, this is the option for you.


Have too many photos and can’t decide which should be your background? That’s alright. Simply use them all. Slideshow allows you to select a folder that Windows will use to shuffle through photos to display as your background.

picture background slideshow

You can choose the interval it changes at as well as the fit just like if you were setting a regular picture. Be aware, though, that having your photo change really often can be a minor drain on your battery.


The next tab in the Personalization menu brings you to Colors. From here, you can change the accent colors that you see throughout the Windows 10 interface.


If you turn on the first option, Windows will automatically pick a color from your background and use it as the background color. This is a cool trick if you have a nice background color, but if your background is yellow and you don’t want an awkward pale yellow as your accent color, you can always set it manually.

Thankfully, there are many more options for accent colors than there are background colors options.

You can then choose if you want this color shown in the Start Menu, taskbar, and Action Center. If you say no, those will default to their regular dark gray. And the final option is transparency. This allows you to see the tiniest bit of your background through the taskbar and other elements.


Continuing down the tabs in the Personalization part of the Settings app, you’ll find options for customizing your lockscreen. This is mostly for changing the background image and which apps show notification on the lockscreen. If you want to change how you sign in (via password, PIN, or picture password), you’ll need to go back to the main menu of the Settings and choose Account and then Sign-in options.

lockscreen background

Still in the Personalization part, though, you only have two options for the lockscreen: picture or slideshow. Unfortunately there’s no solid color option, but these two do behave the same as they do for your background.

lockscreen apps

You can also choose which apps show notifications here. If you live mostly in the desktop without a lot of Modern apps, you probably won’t need any apps showing their notifications there.

Start Menu

Though we have a full guide for the Windows 10 Start Menu A Guide to the Windows 10 Start Menu Windows 10 fixes the Start Menu dilemma! Getting to grips with the new Start Menu will supercharge your Windows 10 experience. With this handy guide, you'll be an expert in no time. Read More , we should run down just a few quick ways you can personalize it right now.

In the Personalization menu, you can choose if you want to show most used apps or recently used apps, which appear on the left side of the Start Menu.

start menu personalize

The next option, if turned on, makes the Start Menu full screen, much like it was in Windows 8. This is probably not a very popular option unless you’ve got a touch device with a super small screen.

And lastly, you can choose if your Jump Lists show recently opened files. Jump Lists are shown when you right click on apps in the taskbar or the little arrow next to an app in the Start Menu.


If you mosey on over to the Start Menu, you can also edit all the tiles visible on the right side really easily. Simply click and drag any tile to move it. Right click to resize, delete, or customize them.


You can also change the name of the groups by clicking on the name, or move the entire group by grabbing the little two-line icon beside it.

Quick Access

The file explorer in Windows 10 has an awesome new feature called Quick Access. We’ve shown you in-depth how it can make your file navigation much faster Navigate Your Favorite Files Faster in Windows 10 with Quick Access File Explorer in Windows 10 introduces a subtle change: The Favorites bar is now Quick Access, which relies on data to show your most used folders first. And you can still pin or hide folders. Read More , so here’s a short overview.

quick access 1

Quick Access is basically a way for you to reach various folders in an instant, without having to dig through folders and folders to find it. You can customize it simply by finding a folder, right-clicking on it, and choosing Pin to Quick Access.

quick access 2

It’s a small tweak, yes, but a very worthwhile one if you can get into the habit of using it.


We’ve discussed how you can set up Cortana How to Set Up Cortana & Remove Her in Windows 10 Cortana is Microsoft's greatest productivity tool since Office. We'll show you how to get started with Windows 10's digital assistant or how to turn Cortana off for improved privacy. Read More already, but here’s the brief version. Most likely, you can find Cortana as a small circle in the taskbar near the Start Menu, but if not, find it under the All Apps list in the Start Menu.

Opening Cortana brings up a Start Menu-like app in the lower-left corner of your screen. To personalize Cortana, you’ll want to click on the notebook icon on the left side and go into Settings.


This is where you can access most of Cortana’s personalization features. You can disable it or just limit it from knowing certain things about you or interrupting you. This all depends on how worried you are about Cortana being a privacy concern, or how much you plan on making use of the personal assistant Cortana Arrives on the Desktop & Here's What She Can Do for You Is Microsoft's intelligent digital assistant as competent on the Windows 10 desktop as she is on Windows Phone? Cortana has a lot of expectation on her shoulders. Let's see how she holds up. Read More .

Action Center

The Action Center is the home of all your notifications. You can access it using Windows + A (one of many great Windows 10 shortcuts 7 Quick Tips & Hacks to Optimize Your Windows 10 Experience Windows 10 is more than an upgrade to Windows 8, it's an evolution. We've covered many of the big changes, but lots of minor things changed, too. Maybe we can teach you a new trick. Read More ), and it should slide in from the right side of the screen.

Aside from the color options discussed earlier, you can also personalize the Action Center by changing the Quick Actions and the notifications it shows. To change these, open the Settings app and navigate to System Notifications & actions.

quick actions

Here, you can choose which of the four Quick Actions appear when they are collapsed in the Actions Center. Because when expanded, the Quick Actions look like this:



But when collapsed you can only see four, like this:


In that part of the Settings app you can also turn on or off notifications for different modern apps, which is great if you’re getting annoying notifications from a particular app and want it off.

Keyboard Languages

Do you often find yourself typing in more than one language? For many multilingual folks, having a keyboard made specifically for one language can be extremely frustrating. Luckily, Windows 10 has a quick method for switching between languages.

To access your different languages, click the three-lettered keyboard layout icon (e.g. ENG for English) in the lower-right corner of your screen and select Language preferences, or open the Settings app and navigate to Time & language > Region & language.


Here, you can select which languages you want to be able to type in. This won’t change your system language, but it will allow you to use different keyboards for typing accents or using an AZERTY instead of a QWERTY keyboard A History of Keyboard Layouts, Is QWERTY Lagging Behind? QWERTY is over 100 years old. It's outdated and outclassed by several alternatives, yet it's still the most popular keyboard layout in the world. How did we get here? Read More .

The best part is that you can switch between them really easily by using the Windows + Spacebar shortcut.


Right-clicking on the taskbar will — as it has in previous versions of Windows — give you a lot of control over the taskbar. New additions include personalization options for Cortana, a Task View button, and a touch keyboard.


Cortana can either be hidden from view, just a circle icon, or a full search bar. The Task View button enables you to switch between multiple apps and also between multiple desktops. The touch keyboard is really only useful if you have a touchscreen device.

Other options like hiding the taskbar or moving it to the side can be accessed through the Properties option.


With the left-side multitasking of Windows 8 dead and gone, your ability to multitask is now all in the Task View. You can access this using the button on the taskbar or by pressing Windows + Tab.


It will display all of your open apps side by side, and you can close or open them from there.


You also now have the ability to have multiple desktops. If you don’t want distractions while you work, you could make a desktop for work and a desktop for play.

One nice multitasking trick that has appeared in Windows 10 is that if you snap an app to one side of the screen by dragging it there, it pops up your other open apps in a Task View-like style. You can then select one of them to be snapped on the either side of the screen, making it easier than ever to have two apps snapped perfectly side by side.

How Do You Customize Windows 10?

In some ways, Windows 10 has become even more customizable with the addition of Cortana, the Action Center, and multiple desktops — but a lot of people feel like the personalization options are getting slimmer as Microsoft cuts down on background and accent colors.

Still, these are only some of the many customization options in Windows 10. Do you have any favorites that we didn’t mention? Any tips for folks out there who want to customize their computer? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Microsoft Cortana, Start Menu, Wallpaper, Windows 10, Windows Customization, Windows Taskbar.

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  1. amikhan
    May 15, 2016 at 9:31 am

    how to delete a photo from background?

  2. Anonymous
    August 25, 2015 at 2:29 am

    I recently built a new small form factor gaming PC that started out with Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit multi booting with the Steam OS that is on a second hard drive along with Ultimate Edition Linux that is installed on an external HD. When I was able to upgrade it to Windows 10 on July 29th I did so. I generally like Windows 10 but there are some at least for me glaring issues that for my main workstation PC are a deal breaker and I will not upgrade(downgrade to)Windows 10. The top of the list is based on all the major security concerns over all the in your face spying that is going on as you are using your PC. I want to know where is all of this data going? Is it going to Microsoft servers as new ways to advertise to you or is its firsts destination for those of us in the USA the NSA? I have 0 confidence in the BS that I have heard so far from MS and 0 trust that this data will not be abused so this alone will prevent me from upgrading on my normal work station PC. I think that if you take a close unbiased look at this so called free OS you would determine it to be the worst spyware application of all time because it is the OS that runs and controls everything on your PC. The other thing that I cannot deal with is in my opinion the total lack of customization. Yes there are some very rudimentary options but the one that I for the life of me cannot understand why they did not include it in Windows 10 is the color options you had in Windows 7. Unlike Windows 10 where you only have I think 24 set colors to pick from, in Windows 7 if you did not like the color swatches that are the default options they included a color mixer just like in an art application that you could create any color that your monitor and GPU could generate and display for not just stupid accent colors but would change the colors for the window borders, task bar, and start menu. Even after changing the so called accent color for Windows 10 you only get a small rectangle of color under the File menu but it leaves the window title bar still to be a harsh white that blends right in with the main body of the window and for me at least makes it very difficult to see the widgets in the upper RH corner of the title bar. Why not go back and include this from Windows 7? They already have the code do do so. I think it goes back to the attitude that MS and its developers have about their customers (well I do not know now what a Windows 10 user is considered if they get it for free) and that attitude is that we are a bunch of stupid people that are barely able to push the power button. Look at the forced updates and all of the spy ware stuff that is on by default when Windows 10 is first installed. I have not tried it yet but have read where the end user cannot even access the registry using regedit. I will keep it on the gaming PC because it is used as a gaming console and want to use direct x 12. If I use it as a real desktop I boot into Linux that I installed on an external USB3 drive not Windows 10. So for me this new shiny OS is just another fail that has come out of MS.

    • It's_Ya_Boi
      December 4, 2015 at 2:16 am

      2. words. DirectX 12

    • Anonymous
      December 4, 2015 at 2:17 am

      2. Words. DirectX. 12.

  3. Anonymous
    August 24, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    You left out SOUND.

    NO LONGER do you have the ability to assign an audio file to play upon Window starting after logging in, nor is there any more access to playing a sound when Windows is closing down.

    Also: on MY Windows 10, right-clicking on the task bar does not reveal anything even whispering "CORTANA".....

    Whusssuppp witt datt?

  4. Anonymous
    August 24, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    So far I am loving Win10! They took ALMOST everything that worked so well in 7 and combined it with the FEW things from 8 that were actually worth having. But it is missing one thing that I really just NEED to have.......Dreamscene! They went and made Windows all pretty but left out the most beautiful feature. I know that in Vista you just turned it on. In 7 it was always there you just either had to edit the registry or use some application to do so then it worked the same.....right click a suitable file and "Use as Desktop Background". Why is it gone? And is there anyone out there who knows how to activate it (if it's still in the code) or does anyone have a comparable program that will allow me to use "Live Wallpapers"?

    I have 1 Laptop and one Desktop running 10 now but I just can't bring myself to update my main rig to 10 until I can make this happen.