How to Change the Desktop Background in Windows

Add some flair to your Windows desktop

Women taking a photo of the landscape out of a moving train


Abraham / Getty Images

Some people like to use the pre-installed themes for their computer backgrounds. Others prefer a single, personal image, while some (depending on your version of Windows) opt for a slideshow-style background that constantly changes.

Whatever your preference, here's how to change your desktop background.

Instructions in this article apply to Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7.

01
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Right-Click on an Open Digital Image

Screenshot of Set As > Set as Background

There are several ways to change the desktop background on your computer, and the way you choose may depend on which version of Windows you have.

The easiest way to make the change on any version of Windows is to open your favorite digital image, right-click on it, and from the context menu choose Set as desktop background.

In Windows 10, however, this process is slightly different since you can set an image as more than just your desktop background. When you double-click on an image in Windows 10 it opens in the built-in Photos app. Just as with other versions of Windows right-click on the image, but then choose Set as > Set as background. A small change, but one worth knowing about.

02
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Right-Click on an Image File

Screenshot of Set As > Set as Background

Even if the image is not open you can still make it your background image. From File Explorer (aka Windows Explorer in Windows 7) right-click on the image file you want to use, and then from the context menu select Set as desktop background.

03
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Personalize Your Desktop

Screenshot of Personalize on desktop right-click menu

Right-click an empty area on the desktop once again and select Personalize from the context menu. This will open the Settings window.

Alternatively you could go to Start Settings > Personalization > Background

In Windows 8 or Windows 7, select the Desktop Button background at the bottom of the Settings window and then continue.

Select the image you want from the ones offered under "Choose your picture," or choose Browse to find another image saved to your PC. 

04
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Windows 10 Slideshow

Screenshot of slideshow in background settings

If you'd rather see a slideshow on your desktop background instead of a single, static image navigate once again to Start Settings > Personalization > Background. Select Slideshow in the drop-down menu under Background

A new option will appear directly below the drop-down menu called Choose albums for your slideshow. By default, Windows 10 will choose your Pictures album. If you'd like to change that, select the Browse button and then navigate to your folder of choice via File Explorer. 

Once you've found what you want, select Choose this folder.

One last tweak you'll want to know about is that you can set how often your slideshow changes. You can choose to swap pictures every minute or just once a day. The default is every 30 minutes. Look for the drop-down menu under Change picture every to adjust this setting. 

A little lower down in the same settings window you'll also see options to shuffle your pictures, and to allow slideshows while on battery power — the default is to turn desktop background slideshows off in order to conserve power.

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Different Images for Dual Monitors

Screenshot of set as desktop background with multiple images selected

If you'd rather see a slideshow on your desktop background instead of a single, static image navigate once again to Start Settings > Personalization > Background. Select Slideshow in the drop-down menu under Background

A new option will appear directly below the drop-down menu called Choose albums for your slideshow. By default, Windows 10 will choose your Pictures album. If you'd like to change that, select the Browse button and then navigate to your folder of choice via File Explorer. 

Once you've found what you want, select Choose this folder.

One last tweak you'll want to know about is that you can set how often your slideshow changes. You can choose to swap pictures every minute or just once a day. The default is every 30 minutes. Look for the drop-down menu under Change picture every to adjust this setting. 

A little lower down in the same settings window you'll also see options to shuffle your pictures, and to allow slideshows while on battery power — the default is to turn desktop background slideshows off in order to conserve power.