Tech

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


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

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 is a convenient way) 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 if you want 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 if you need ideas.

Windows 10 Change Wallpaper

If you want to go beyond a static image, choose the Slideshow option for your desktop wallpaper. 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 usually provides the best results. We’ve covered tips for beautifying your desktop wallpaper if you need more advice.

While you’re here, head over to the Lock screen tab to pick an image for that display too. Just like your desktop, you can choose a single image or a slideshow. The Windows spotlight option will load new images so you don’t have to find them yourself.

2. Paint Windows With Your Favorite Color

While still in the Personalization window of Settings, hop over to the Colors tab for another easy Windows customization option. Select your favorite color from the grid to apply that color all over Windows.

If you don’t like any of the standard colors, open Custom color for more granular control. For a more cohesive look, you can check Automatically pick an accent color from my background and Windows will set the color based on your wallpaper.

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.

Windows 10 Choose Color

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, dark mode in Windows is an easy and drastic way to make the OS 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. Under Create your picture, 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. This makes your computer aesthetic feel just a bit more personal, as default profile icons are no fun.

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 customize your Windows 10 Start menu to remove junk tiles and feature the apps you actually 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 frequently 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 (similar to widgets on Android and iOS).

While you’re in the Start menu, you should also take the time to remove Windows 10 bloatware. This will keep an important element of your desktop looking great.

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.

The few quick steps below can go a long way to making your desktop a saner place. If you’ve got a particularly messy situation, you may also need our guide to cleaning your desktop once and for all.

Hide System Icons on the Desktop

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

This will bring up a small new window, where you can uncheck any Windows icons you don’t want to display. Hiding unnecessary icons helps your cool wallpaper shine through.

Windows Desktop Icon Settings

Organize Desktop Icons

Next, you can take advantage of a few tools to organize your desktop 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 or a desktop management alternative to wrangle your desktop icons.

6. Customize Windows 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 Windows sounds, 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’s currently enabled 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.

Windows 10 Change Sounds

If you can’t find a sound 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.

7. Make Windows 10 Look Really Cool With Rainmeter

rainmeter custom desktop

No discussion of how to make Windows 10 look beautiful 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.

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 guide, so have a look at how to create custom desktop icons with Rainmeter and some of the best minimalist Rainmeter skins to get started.

So Many Ways to Make Windows Look Better

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

Of course, you can also go further with more third-party tools for deep Windows customization.

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