6 Ways to Customize Your Desktop Wallpaper in Windows

Brad Jones 01-08-2016

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.

select folder


Use the Change picture every dropdown to select 1 day, and then make sure that the Shuffle slider is set to Off.

change picture

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 GIMP vs. Photoshop: Which One Is Right for You? Adobe Photoshop is the most popular image editing app. GIMP is the best free alternative to Photoshop. Which should you use? Read More to add in some text that corresponds to the day it’s intended to display on.

garden wallpaper


2. Select Different Wallpapers for Virtual Desktops

One of the most useful new features in Windows 10 is the addition of virtual desktops 5 Ways to Improve Virtual Desktops in Windows 10 Virtual Desktops can help you expand and organize your desktop. Here we show you how to improve and productively use Windows 10's Task View feature. Read More , 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.

virtual desktop

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 How to Be More Productive with Dual Monitors You need space for several documents, to get an overview and swiftly shift between tasks. What's true for your desk also applies to your virtual workspace. We show you how it matters. Read More , 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.

several wallpapers selected

Next, right-click the image that you want to set as the background on your primary monitor and select Set.

set as desktop


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.

display fusion

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 6 More VLC Media Player Features You Must Try VLC is a media player more powerful than you might realize. Are you using it to its full potential? Here are some pointers. Read More  (if you don’t already have it) and navigate to Tools > Preferences, then select the Video tab.

video settings

Use the Output dropdown to select DirectX video output. Save your settings, and then restart VLC.

video wallpaper

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.

movie on desktop

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 How to Create a Parallax Desktop Background With Rainmeter If you desire a live animated desktop wallpaper, look into Rainmeter! Here we'll show you how to create a unique parallax effect for your Windows desktop background. Read More or delving deeper into live wallpaper Make Your Desktop Stunning With an Interactive Live Wallpaper Nothing makes your desktop stand out like a live interactive background. It's also one of the greatest exercises in customizing your Windows setup. We'll show you how to do it easily with Rainmeter. Read More , 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 Are The Many Screens in Our Lives Hurting Our Eyes? Read More .

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.

Related topics: Multiple Monitors, Rainmeter, Task View, Virtual Desktop, Wallpaper, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1.

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  1. Gary Beach
    February 21, 2018 at 6:09 am

    I'd love to find a way to use the Windows 10 lockscreen slideshow as a Screensaver. It beautifully generates collages and slowly zooms.
    If anybody knows how to accomplish this, please let me know. (I'd like to use it as a Screensaver so that I wouldn't have to use a password to get back to the desktop.)

  2. Jay
    August 3, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    One good alternative is John’s Background Switcher

    • Nico
      August 4, 2016 at 10:29 am

      John’s Background Switcher also my favorite, this is a great app