How to Change the Desktop Background in Windows

Add some flair to your Windows desktop

Some people use pre-installed themes for their computer backgrounds. Others prefer a single, personal image, while some (depending on the 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.

How to Change the Desktop 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.

Right-Click an Open Digital Image

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

Set as background on Windows

In Windows 10, this process is slightly different from Windows 8 and 7 because you can set an image as more than just the desktop background. Double-click an image to open it in the built-in Photos app. As with other versions of Windows, right-click the image and then choose Set as > Set as background.

Right-Click an Image File

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

Set as desktop background

Personalize the Desktop

Another way to set a background is to right-click an empty area of the desktop and select Personalize from the context menu, or go to Start Settings > Personalization > Background

Personalize menu item for Windows

In Windows 8 or Windows 7, select Desktop background at the bottom of the Settings window before continuing.

From here, select the image you want from the ones offered under Choose your picture, or choose Browse to find an image saved to your PC. 

How to Create a Windows 10 Slideshow

Some people prefer to see a number of rotating images on their desktop instead of a single, static image. If you want to create a slideshow for your desktop:

  1. Select Start Settings > Personalization > Background. 

    Background section in Settings for Windows
  2. In the Background list, select Slideshow.

    Slideshow menu item in Settings
  3. A new option appears directly below the drop-down menu called Choose albums for your slideshow. By default, Windows 10 chooses your Pictures album. To change that, select Browse and navigate to the folder of choice via File Explorer. When you find what you want, select Choose this folder.

When you create a slideshow, you can set how often the change. You can choose to swap pictures every minute or 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 are options to shuffle pictures and to allow slideshows while on battery power—the default is to turn desktop background slideshows off to conserve power.