There’s a quick and easy way to make your computer your very own, as well as brightening it up and providing you inspiration every time you sit down in front of it.
There are millions of computers worldwide, but it’s pretty likely that only one — or a handful — are yours. One of the most simple steps you can take to personalise your own computer is to set a backdrop image that reflects your personality, as distinct from the default backgrounds supplied by operating system manufacturers.
There’s nothing wrong with those backgrounds — and indeed, many of them follow some rather specific guidelines I’ll get into in a second — but why be like just about every other lazy computer user when with just a few simple clicks you can identify your own workspace in a highly individual way?
The key to doing this is by changing up the default desktop wallpaper on your computer, whether you’re running a Windows PC or macOS computer. It’s an easy enough task, once you know what you’re doing, but it’s also one of those things that might seem daunting if you’re unsure. Here’s how to get started.
Pick a good image at the right resolution
The key to a good desktop image is one that reflects your interests, business or passions, depending on the use you put your computer to. Maybe that’s a picture of a classic car, your grandkids, a stunning nature vista or the vast emptiness of space. There’s no hard and fast rule for what you consider a “good” image, but there are some general guidelines for what makes a workable desktop image.
The subject matter doesn’t actually matter that much, but the variance in colour does, especially if you have a very busy desktop with lots of icons on it. A large bunch of multicoloured flowers might be a beautiful image, but all those mixed-in colours could make your desktop icons difficult to discern.
Resolution is also a key factor. If your chosen picture is low resolution, you’re going to end up with a blocky mess stretched out, or a tiled repetitive image that may be just as distracting as an overly colourful one. Ideally, what you want to do is match the resolution of your desktop picture to the resolution of your screen, although there are a few ways around this which I’ll detail below.
If you’re lacking in inspiration — or photos of your own — there are countless online sites where you can track down desktop wallpaper images to suit any taste. A simple online search for “desktop wallpaper” (or even “insert-your-interest-area-of-choice wallpaper“) will find many sites offering free images. Find a shot you like, save it, and then all you’ve got to do is apply it to your computer. Here’s how:
On your desktop right click anywhere except where you’ve got a desktop icon for a program. Choose the bottom option, Personalise. From there, you can choose your background picture of choice from the supplied options. You can also choose from a range of presentations, from Fill (which will typically stretch images and can make low resolution shots appear a little odd) to Center (which will show the image at full resolution from the center of your display) to Tile, which will tile it enough times to fill your display. Play around — you may find one look that suits your tastes and image better than others.
Windows Vista, 7, and 8
The process if you’re running an older Windows OS isn’t much different. You’re still going to right click on your existing wallpaper away from any other icons and choose Personalise, but then you’ll need to explicitly choose the “Desktop Background” area. From there, your options and choices are much as above.
If you’re a mac user, you’ve got a couple of choices when it comes to desktop wallpapers.
If you’ve got a specific image in mind, all you need to do is find it, right click (or control-click) onto it, and choose Set Desktop Picture to make it your wallpaper. If there’s no Set Desktop Picture option (and you’re certain you’ve selected a picture), look for a Services menu, which should have it.
Your other option is to set a folder of pictures to rotate through randomly. This is done through the System Preferences utility. This may already be sitting in your dock, looking like a cog icon, but you can also open it up by clicking on the Apple icon in the top left hand corner and choosing System Preferences from there. Then click on Desktop & Screen Saver. From there you can select from the provided pictures and sources, or from your own photos or a folder of pictures to use as desktop inspiration. You can also use this method to select an individual picture from your Photos app if you only want the one.