How to Change the Look and Feel of Your Windows 10 Desktop

Ben Stegner Updated 14-08-2019

While Windows 10 has a slick look out of the box, you may still wonder how to make Windows 10 look better. We’re here to explain the wealth of customization options that will make your computer more personal.


Walk through these methods to change the look and feel of Windows, and your computer will be a livelier place once you’re all done.

1. Set a New Desktop Wallpaper and Lock Screen Background

Windows 10 Change Wallpaper

One of the easiest ways to give your desktop a new look is to pick a desktop wallpaper that matches your interests. To do this, open the Settings app (using the keyboard shortcut Win + I if you like) and enter the Personalization section.

Here, on the Background tab, you’ll find several options related to your desktop wallpaper. In the dropdown box under Background, select Picture to use a single image. Hit the Browse button below this to choose an image from your PC. Have a look at some great sites for finding new wallpapers 5 Apps and Sites for Amazing Free HD Wallpapers on Mobile and Desktop Finding images that make for good wallpapers is not as easy as it seems. Let's use these apps and sites to search some brilliant HD wallpapers and backgrounds for your screens. Read More if you need ideas.

If you want to go beyond a static image, try setting a slideshow. Pick a folder full of images on your computer, and Windows will change them at an interval you set.


At the bottom, you can choose how your images fit onto the screen if they’re not the right size. If you’re not sure, Fill will probably provide the best results.

While you’re here, head over to the Lock screen tab to pick an image for that display. Just like your desktop, you can choose a single image or a slideshow.

2. Paint Windows With Your Favorite Color

Windows 10 Choose Color

Staying in the Personalization window, hop over to the Colors section for another easy customization option. Select your favorite color from the grid, and you can apply that color all over Windows.


If you don’t like any of the standard colors, open Custom color for more granular control. Once you’ve picked one out, check both of the boxes under Show accent color on the following surfaces to apply it on app title bars, as well as Windows elements like the Taskbar and Start menu.

Also on this menu, you can disable Windows 10’s transparency effects and choose between light and dark modes. If you hate getting blinded by white lights, this is a major way to make Windows 10 look better.

3. Set an Account Picture

Windows 10 Set User Photo

The generic gray silhouette that represents your Windows 10 user account out of the box is boring. You can personalize your account with a custom photo, which is especially useful on multi-user systems.


To do this, visit Settings > Accounts > Your info. Here you can select Camera to take a new photo with your webcam, or Browse for one to upload a picture from your PC.

Once set, you’ll see this icon in a few places around the Windows interface.

4. Revise the Start Menu

Windows 10 Unpin Start Tile

Chances are that you use the Start menu often to launch programs and search your files. To streamline it, you should remove junk tiles and apps that you don’t care about.


To quickly remove a tile from the Start Menu, right-click it and choose Unpin from Start. You can also remove all tiles in a group by right-clicking the group name and selecting Unpin group from Start.

Next, you can make the Start menu more useful by dragging apps you actually use from the list to the tile area on the right. These act as shortcuts, and apps with Live Tiles can even update with new information in real time.

While you’re in the Start menu, you should also take the time to remove Windows 10 bloatware How to Easily Remove Bloatware From Windows 10 Windows 10 comes with its own set of pre-installed apps. Let's look at the methods you can use to remove the bloatware on your PC and debloat Windows 10. Read More . Advanced users who don’t like the Windows 10 Start menu might instead consider using a Start menu replacement The 7 Best Windows Start Menu Alternatives and Replacements The Windows 10 Start Menu is a great improvement over Windows 8, but you can make it even better. Here are the best tools for working around or replacing the Start Menu. Read More .

5. Tidy and Organize Your Desktop

Having a load of desktop icons can get in the way of seeing the wallpaper you picked out. Many people use their desktop as a general dumping ground for files they don’t know what to do with yet, leading to it getting messy fast.

A few quick steps can go a long way to making your desktop a saner place. If you’ve got a particularly messy situation, you may need our guide to cleaning your desktop once and for all How to Clean Up Your Windows Desktop Once and For All Do you look at your Windows desktop and wonder how to clean it up? Here are some decluttering tips that can make you productive. Read More .

Hide System Icons on the Desktop

Windows Desktop Icon Settings

First, you might want to hide default Windows icons like This PC so they don’t waste space. To do this, visit Settings > Personalization > Themes and click the Desktop icon settings link on the right side of the window.

This will bring up a small new window, where you can uncheck any Windows icons you don’t want to display.

Organize Desktop Icons

Next, you can take advantage of a few tools to organize your icons by right-clicking an empty space on your desktop and selecting View. This lets you change the icon size, auto-arrange them, and snap all icons to the grid.

If you’d like, you can even uncheck Show desktop icons to hide them all. Note that this doesn’t delete your files; it simply removes the icons. You can still browse the files on your desktop using File Explorer.

Once you’ve got the visual layout how you like it, use the Sort by menu option to automatically list your desktop icons by various criteria.

If you want something more powerful, you can use a third-party tool like Fences to wrangle your desktop icons. We’ve looked at some desktop management alternatives to Fences The 7 Best Free Alternatives to Fences for Windows Desktop Management Is your Windows desktop a little messy? Here are free desktop management apps that can help you organize your virtual clutter. Read More if you’d like to try something else.

6. Customize Windows Sounds

Windows 10 Change Sounds

So far, we’ve looked at how to make Windows look better visually. But you can customize how Windows sounds, too. It only takes a bit of work to override the generic default noises.

To adjust these, go to Settings > System > Sound and click the Sound Control Panel link on the right side. In the resulting window, switch to the Sounds tab.

Here you’ll see a list of various events that Windows plays sounds for. Each one that current has a sound set displays a speaker icon next to it. Highlight the one you’d like to preview, then click the Test button to hear it. To replace a sound, highlight it and pick a new sound from the dropdown menu.

If you can’t find one you like, click the Browse button to select a file from your computer. Note that all Windows sounds must be in WAV format to work properly.

For more on this, including where to find new packs of sounds, see our overview of customizing Windows 10 sounds How to Customize Sounds on Windows 10 (And Where to Download Them) Customize the sounds on Windows 10, find new sounds themes and schemes, and improve the sound quality of your computer. Read More .

7. Make Windows 10 Beautiful With Rainmeter

Best Rainmeter Skins for a Minimalist Desktop - Enigma

No discussion of how to make Windows 10 look cool is complete without mention of Rainmeter. It’s the ultimate desktop customization tool, and perfect for more advanced users who aren’t satisfied with what we’ve covered above. You can even use it to have Windows 10 look like an old version of Windows How to Make Windows 10 Look Like Windows 7 or XP Here's how to make Windows 10 look like Windows 7, Windows XP, or Windows 8 so you can restore a classic look and feel. Read More .

Because of everything it can do, Rainmeter is often overwhelming for new users. A full discussion of how to use it is beyond the scope of this discussion, so have a look at a basic introduction to Rainmeter A Simple Guide to Rainmeter: The Windows Desktop Customization Tool Rainmeter is the ultimate tool for customizing your Windows desktop with interactive wallpapers, desktop widgets, and more. Our simple guide will help you create your own personal desktop experience in no time. Read More and some of the best minimalist Rainmeter skins The Best Rainmeter Skins for a Minimalist Desktop Want to customize Windows with Rainmeter? Here are the best Rainmeter skins for a clean and minimalist Windows desktop. Read More to get started.

So Many Ways to Make Windows Look Better

With these customizations done, you’ve done quite a bit of work to make Windows 10 unique to you. Armed with custom wallpapers, sounds, colors, plus an organized desktop and Start menu, your Windows 10 installation won’t look quite like anyone else’s.

Want to go even deeper? Continue on with the best tools to customize Windows 10 The 8 Best Tools to Tweak and Customize Windows 10 Want to give your PC a unique look? Learn how to customize Windows 10 with these powerful tweak tools that cover your every need. Read More and our mega-guide to Windows customization How to Customize Windows 10: The Complete Guide You decorate your office – why not your computer? Find out how to make Windows look just the way you want. Make your computer your own, with free tools. Read More .

Image Credit: maradon 333/Shutterstock

Related topics: Application Dock, Rainmeter, Start Menu, Wallpaper, Windows 10, Windows App Launcher, Windows Customization.

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  1. Mark Tristan R. Ocampo
    August 15, 2019 at 5:45 am

    To make my PC look more beautiful, I connect to Google's Chrome Remote Desktop... to my Mac - on full screen, that is. LMFAO!

    • pariessona
      August 15, 2019 at 2:02 pm

      I think a Windows 10 install disk is a good way to reset a lost Windows 10 local accounts password: [ password.html]

  2. eMcE
    September 25, 2016 at 9:22 am

    Well.. Windoze is a crap in thema "real custommizing", but with some patience we can have some very nice results ;)
    This is mine Win10 AN edition now:
    Fully debloated (all mobile and unused by me apps are removed), telemetry is completly disabled. I enabled aero and transparency for entire system - incl. modern apps. Changed normal start menu vs. some win-seven-like, changed orb, added transp. to the taskbar, replaced explorer with seven-like one. Changed icons.
    Todo is: chaneging some white backgrounds to dark ones, chaneging fonts to some better aligned with the eintire look. And packing all those in some "easy to use" app/installer for the future ;)
    After all those changes the system works fine and stable. No hangs, no some bsod's etc.

    • Blacktape
      June 24, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      where would I find information on the mods you do? I like your look. :)

    • Mike
      October 18, 2019 at 12:39 am

      Haven't seen a BSOD or even a freeze in Win10 in years and despite running it on machines from several eras, including 2 original vista systems. I think that anyone who uses the term 'BSOD' to describe a modern Windows pc is thinking about Win98 and has no real clue. Sorry. P.S. my Macbook was a freeze-cycle and I got so tired of it that i donated it to the woman's shelter thrift store.

  3. Shawn
    May 2, 2016 at 5:02 am

    Lucinite Panels

  4. Anonymous
    March 28, 2016 at 2:12 am

    What? No mention of UXTheme Patcher, which lets you use any of thousands of (unsigned) Windows 8/10 themes?
    I prefer the look of Windows 7, so I applied one of those (from DeviantArt) to my sole Windows 10 laptop...not perfect, but a LOT better than the bland, flat Windows 8/10 UI.

    • Christian Bonilla
      April 12, 2016 at 8:52 pm

      The UXTheme (and UXStyle) Patcher almost deserve an article in themselves!

  5. Anonymous
    March 26, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    I use Rainmeter, Fences by Stardock to organize/hide my icons, and John's Background Switcher to switch between my huge collection of wallpapers. I'm kind of addicted to my background changing every few hours. I even have a blog where I collect wallpapers [].

  6. Eric Stoick
    March 26, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    I have mine set to NOT ask for my pin when it wakes up, but it is still doing it. I have tried setting it to always ask then reboot and tried setting it to never, and reboot. It is still asking for my pin. I should not that I had to refresh the pc because of a browser redirect. Since the refresh it is doing as described. Also when you are making changes you don't have to hit apply then ok, IF you are only making one change. Just hit ok and it will stick! But if you are making multiple change in the same setting you just hit apply and go to your next setting. When you are done with the last setting just hit ok and the window closes. Thanks!

    • Anonymous
      March 26, 2016 at 11:46 pm

      Eric, I also had this problem. What I found was the problem is that if you change this setting through the fancy new settings menu, it won't take for some reason. You have to change it through the old Control Panel. Right click on the Start button, click Control Panel, then go to Power Options. On the left side you should see a blue link that says 'Require a password on wakeup'. Click that and then click the 'Don't require a password' option under Password protection on wakeup. It might be greyed out, in which case look towards the top and you'll see a link that says 'Change settings that are currently unavailable'.

  7. Kenny
    March 25, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    I still can't get the logon and logoff sounds to work.

    • Christian Bonilla
      March 25, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      By work, do you mean there's absolutely no logon or logoff sound or it isn't changing to your liking?

  8. Ralphy
    March 25, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    How to Change the Look and Feel of Your Windows 10 Desktop? Delete M$ from your system. Best way yet.

    • Anonymous
      March 28, 2016 at 2:10 am

      Unfortunately, a lot of people don't have that option - a work PC, a program that's not available for Linux or Mac OS, or *gasp* they want to play a game or two...

  9. Ron S
    March 25, 2016 at 1:46 am

    #3 I don't like having picture desktop backgrounds because it make it harder to see icons I put on desktop. So I go with solid colors. BUT, I also don't like the bland, limited pallete of colors that MS provides.

    Simple fix, find the color you like, house paint "color chip" web sites are a good place to find a rainbow selection of colors.

    Make a large screen cap of the color

    Use the screen cap of the desired color as a "photo" background.

    I'm happy again.

    I haven't yet looked at the skin app you suggested. I am hoping that it has a skin that includes wider application Window borders, like older apps. The 1 pixel wide borders in Win10 are a PITA to hit the exact spot to resize the window.

    • Christian Bonilla
      March 25, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      This is a great tip, thanks!

    • Anonymous
      March 26, 2016 at 10:53 pm

      Alternatively, there are many attractive, yet minimal wallpapers you could use on your desktop. Just google image search something like "minimal desktop wallpaper", and it should come up with plenty of options that won't clash with your icons.

      • Christian Bonilla
        March 26, 2016 at 10:57 pm

        I was just going to mention - I've been a long time user of which provides a wide array of color options to suit any desktop program and addition.

    • Anonymous
      March 26, 2016 at 10:57 pm

      If you are looking to change the window borders, your best bet is something like WindowBlinds by Stardock. It's a paid program unfortunately, but there are thousands of skins that you can download for it to make Windows look completely different. Rainmeter, which is mentioned in the post, can't actually change the look and feel of Windows itself. It's more for adding additional widgets and useful info to your desktop.

  10. Yodi
    March 24, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    This is great! Thanks!

    • Christian Bonilla
      March 26, 2016 at 11:38 pm

      No problem, thanks for the positive feedback!

  11. Anonymous
    March 24, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    I'd love to be able to add the Desktop option to the Alt-Tab again (for when the program you want isn't running) - but that goes back to windows 8

    • Christian Bonilla
      March 25, 2016 at 5:51 pm

      It seems Windows 10 separates this function into Alt-Tab and Win Key + D. Unfortunately, I've yet to activate the Win8 alt-tab without using a third party software.