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Windows 11 basics: how to personalize your wallpaper and lock screen

Change the look on your screen

Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge

If you’ve just bought a new laptop, one of the first things you’re probably going to want to do is personalize how it looks. Windows has plenty of options for customizing what you see when you open up your device. You can not only select a color, photo, or slideshow for your wallpaper, but you can choose a lock screen and pick a theme.

It’s simple and straightforward to do once you access your personalization settings. To do that:

  • Click on the Start button
  • Click on Settings
  • Select Personalization in the left-hand menu

From here, you can make a variety of design changes to the interface of your PC.

Change your wallpaper

  • Click on the Background bar
You can personalize your background in a variety of ways.
You can personalize your background in a variety of ways.
  • At the top of the Background page is an image that will show you a preview of what your choices will look like.
  • Use the drop-down menu to the right of Personalize your background section to choose whether to use a picture, slideshow, or solid color as a wallpaper
  • Beneath that will be several recent images that you’ve used in case you want to quickly go back to one of those
  • If you prefer to use one of your own photos, look for Choose a photo and click on the Browse photos button to the right of it. Select an image and click on Choose picture.
  • To change the way your photo will fill the space — for example, center it on the screen or create a tile effect — click on the drop-down menu next to Choose a fit for your desktop image
  • Once you select a fit, you’ll see your new wallpaper behind the Settings window; feel free to experiment to see what suits you (and your photo) best
  • If the image doesn’t fill the entire screen, you can also choose a background color. Scroll down to “Choose your background color” and select a color. (If the image does fill the entire screen, then you won’t see that option.)
  • If you decide to opt for just a color background, select Solid color from the Personalize your background drop-down menu, and then pick a color from the tiles under Choose your background color. You can also create a custom color.
You can create a custom color if you want a solid background.
You can create a custom color if you want a solid background.
  • Your third choice in the Personalize your background menu is Slideshow. To choose which pictures will appear in your slideshow, click the Browse button to the right of Choose a picture album for a slideshow, select a folder, and then click on Choose this folder.
Slideshows offer the chance to exhibit your favorite photos.
Slideshows offer the chance to exhibit your favorite photos.
  • You’ll then find additional settings to choose from, such as how often the slideshow changes images, toggling shuffle, whether to play the slideshow on battery power, and how the image should fit the screen.

Set a lock screen

  • Go to Personalization > Lock screen
You can also personalize your lock screen.
You can also personalize your lock screen.
  • Open up the drop-down menu next to Personalize your lock screen. You’ll get three options: Windows spotlight, Picture, and Slideshow.
  • To use a static image as your lock screen, choose Picture. Then select an image using the Browse photos button to Choose a photo
  • To set up a slideshow to play when your device is locked, click Slideshow. You’ll see a section called Add an album for your slideshow, which shows the folders the slideshow will play images from. To add a folder, click the Browse button, navigate to the folder you’d like to select, and then click Choose this folder. To remove a folder, click on Remove.
  • Below that, you’ll see Advanced slideshow settings. Click on that to adjust settings like whether to lock or turn off the screen when the device is idle and whether to play a slideshow when your Windows is on battery power.
Advanced slideshow settings let you choose when and how to show photos.
Advanced slideshow settings let you choose when and how to show photos.
  • The third lock screen option is Windows spotlight. This feature will give you a variety of photos supplied by Microsoft for your lock screen. You can indicate whether you like the photo, and your feedback will be used to customize which photos follow.
Windows spotlight will let you view a variety of Microsoft’s library of photos.
Windows spotlight will let you view a variety of Microsoft’s library of photos.
  • No matter which lock screen option you choose, you can adjust which apps will show up on that screen. Look for the Lock screen status bar and click on the drop-down menu to its right. You can now select from a variety of first-party apps that will display their status on the lock screen.
Select from a variety of apps that will display their status on the lock screen.
Select from a variety of apps that will display their status on the lock screen.

Choose an accent color

  • Click on Personalization > Colors
  • Click on the drop-down menu next to Choose your mode. Here, you can choose between Light and Dark modes. If you select Custom, you can choose different default color modes for Windows and for your apps.
You can choose between Light and Dark modes.
You can choose between Light and Dark modes.
  • Whatever you choose, you can then turn transparency effects on (so that windows and surfaces appear translucent) and scroll down to Accent color to select a color from one of the tiles there or pick a custom color. You can either have the accent color automatically applied, or if you select Manual from the drop-down menu next to Accent color, you can decide where else you want it applied (to, say, the taskbar or borders).

How to use themes

Themes are a package of wallpapers, sounds, and colors that you can use to customize your device. You can choose a theme that comes with your system or get more from the Microsoft Store.

  • Go to Personalization > Themes, and you’ll see your current theme in a window at the top.
  • If you want, you can click on Background, Color, Sounds, and Mouse cursor to adjust each of these features individually.
Themes are a package of wallpapers, sounds, and colors that you can use to customize your device.
Themes are a package of wallpapers, sounds, and colors that you can use to customize your device.