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When people move into a new house, the wallpaper is often one of the very first things to be changed — but many of us stick with the default background when it comes to our computers.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the stock image, but there’s something to be said for putting your own personal spin on your system. What’s more, there are practical benefits to changing up your desktop that could have a potent effect on your productivity.
Here are six easy ways to customize your desktop wallpaper in Windows. Whether you’re looking to spend five minutes or five hours making tweaks, you’ll be able to say goodbye to those boring standard-issue visuals.
1. A Week’s Worth of Wallpaper
Here’s a simple way to change up your wallpaper for every day of the week. First, create a folder on your hard drive and fill it with seven different images that you would like to set as your wallpaper. Then, name them individually for each day of the week, starting the file name with consecutive numbers — i.e. 1_Mon.jpg, 2._Tues.jpg, 3_Wed.jpg.
Next, head to Settings > Personalization > Background. Use the dropdown menu to select Slideshow and then pick the folder that you just created.
Use the Change picture every dropdown to select 1 day, and then make sure that the Shuffle slider is set to Off.
Your images should now cycle on a daily basis, because they’re ordered by the number at the beginning of their file name. If you want to go a step further, you can even use an image editor like Photoshop to add in some text that corresponds to the day it’s intended to display on.
2. Select Different Wallpapers for Virtual Desktops
One of the most useful new features in Windows 10 is the addition of virtual desktops, a way of streamlining your workflow by organizing various windows into separate virtual workspaces. For instance, you might have one desktop for the spreadsheets and Word documents you need for work, then a separate one to browse the web while you’re on a break.
This feature works great out of the box, but you might find it even more useful if you can assign individual backgrounds that let you know which desktop you’re interacting with at a glance. To do that, you’ll need a utility that you can download here.
This light, minimalist application allows you to assign different background images to different desktops — under the hood, it works by checking which virtual desktop is currently active, then switching the wallpaper if it detects a change.
3. Assign Wallpapers Across Multiple Monitors
If you’re using a multi-monitor set-up, then you might want to use a different background for each display. To do so, select your desired images in File Explorer using Control or Shift.
Next, right-click the image that you want to set as the background on your primary monitor and select Set.
The image you clicked on will appear as the background for your primary monitor, and any others that you had selected will be used as wallpaper for your other displays.
4. Use a Wallpaper Manager
For more control over how your multi-monitor setup handles desktop wallpaper, it’s worth looking into a third-party wallpaper manager. Display Fusion is an excellent paid choice, offering plenty of functionality beyond wallpapers for someone using more than one screen, and plenty of control over a single monitor if wallpaper is your top priority. A standard pro license costs $25, but there’s a 30-day trial available to see whether the software suits your needs.
Single-monitor users looking for an alternative option can check out Brilli Wallpaper Changer [No longer available] on the Windows Store. This neat app allows you to pick and choose wallpapers from the Bing image library and your own collection, and it’ll work with all your Windows devices. However, you are limited to two collections of thirty images each, unless you make a $1.49 in-app purchase.
5. Use a Video as Your Wallpaper
The following technique might be a little distracting for some, but it’s certainly a cut above your standard static wallpaper. Download the incredibly useful VLC media player (if you don’t already have it) and navigate to Tools > Preferences, then select the Video tab.
Use the Output dropdown to select DirectX video output. Save your settings, and then restart VLC.
Choose a video to play, then right-click it and navigate to Video > Set as Wallpaper. You can now minimize the player and continue watching your chosen clip from the comfort of your desktop. Simply untick the Set as Wallpaper option when you’re done.
6. Use Rainmeter for a Next-Generation Desktop
While there are plenty of ways to customize your Windows 10 wallpaper without installing additional software, anyone looking for complete control will need to grab Rainmeter.
Rainmeter is used to create and display skins that overhaul the look and feel of Windows 10. The package allows users to make huge changes to the visual design of the interface, and even add functional widgets like media player controls and system monitors.
There are a host of stock skins that you can download and start using immediately, but to really get the most out of the program, you’ll want to learn the ropes and start designing your own themes. Whether you’re putting together a parallax desktop or delving deeper into live wallpaper, you’ll soon see that your imagination is the limit.
Remember, Less Is More!
It’s tempting to go crazy once you know how much you can do to personalize your desktop. However, it’s important to remember that too many bells and whistles might become an irritating distraction once you sit down at your PC to do some work.
There’s nothing wrong with beautifying your desktop, but it’s always worth thinking about whether the colors and imagery that you’ve selected are going to put you at risk of eye strain.
Think about ways that you can modify your desktop to improve your workflow. Tweaks like color-coded virtual desktops and Rainmeter widgets that monitor your system may seem minor, but used properly, they can save time and effort on a daily basis.
It’s great to have a desktop that looks good and reflects your tastes — but it’s even better if the changes you make can super-charge your productivity.
Do you have a tip to help other users customize their desktop? Or do you have a wallpaper-related challenge not covered by this article? Either way, make your voice heard by leaving a comment below.