Windows 8: How to change your color scheme, lock screen image, Start Screen background, and desktop wallpaper

Windows 8 has a few more options for customization over Windows 7 but finding where to make those changes can be a little confusing. Here’s a guide to changing your color scheme, your lock screen, the Start Screen background style, and your desktop’s wallpaper.

The lock screen is what appears before the sign in screen if you lock your computer or leave the computer alone for long enough. The default lock screen is pictured below but you can change it to a different image if you would like.


Go up to the top-right corner of your screen and zipper down the Charms menu to the Settings gear (or press Windows Key + I). Then on the next menu that shows up, go down to the very bottom and click Change PC Settings.


This will take you to the PC Settings screen with Personalize chosen first. You can choose Lock Screen at the top and then choose between the images Windows offers by default. Below those sample images, you can also hit the ‘Browse’ button to find an image of your own. You will probably want to choose a high-resolution image ¬†for best results. The lock screen can accept various image formats including animated gifs, though they will be a still image, not animated.


A second method to change the lock screen comes from the picture itself. Find a picture you would like, open it in the Photos app. Next, right-click anywhere on the image and a black menu should come up at the bottom. In the lower-left is a button for ‘Set as’. Click on that and you will be able to choose to set it as the Lock screen, the Photos app’s app tile, or as the App background.


The Windows 8 post-installation is an improvement but could be a better user experience, in my opinion. It smacks a person in the face with naming their computer and choosing a color scheme. The user doesn’t exactly know what the color scheme will affect and how it will look. The default Start Screen with a purple/violet color scheme is pictured below:


Fortunately, those settings can easily be changed in nearly the same location as above. Instead, just choose Start screen. There, you can change the pattern behind the live tiles and the color scheme in case you change your mind or your mood.


To change the wallpaper: In the Desktop, right-click any plain spot on the background and go down to Personalize. On the window that pops up, click Desktop Background at the bottom.


The resulting window will let you browse to a directory with pictures. You can then select one or many pictures to use as a wallpaper. If you select many images, the wallpaper will alternate between the photos at the interval you select at the bottom of the screen. You can also choose to stretch or fit the wallpaper with other options as well. You can also choose to have the images in a random order by checking the ‘Shuffle’ box instead of having them go through in order.


Above, where you selected Desktop Wallpaper, you could instead choose Screensaver to the lower-right. Unfortunately, the screensaver only shows one image at a time. Comparatively, the Windows 8 Photos app can show many images at a time in a colorful collage slideshow. Below is an example using my ‘wallpapers’ folder.

Windows 8 Photos app Collage slideshow

To get there, with your Photo collection in the Pictures library, open the Photos app. A play button should appear in the lower-left corner. Just hit that, and you will get a nice full screen collage.


For better or worse, there’s nothing to configure. It just does its thing, with sometimes using a cell with a folder name or date of the pictures. It would be nice if you could use this as a screensaver. Instead, if you are at home, you could just have the slideshow going in the background and then switch to the desktop to do your computing. When you’re ready for the computing, just take your mouse to the top-left hot corner and switch back to the Pictures library slideshow collage.

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