Keep your memories within view: Personalize your computer with digital pictures

We've all experienced that bad day that is made brighter when we see a picture of someone or some place that we love. Our pictures keep us connected to what’s most important in life—friends, family, and memories of all of those fun vacations we have taken.

Windows Vista has some great ways to help you use your digital pictures to personalize your computer. Whether you use a picture of your pet as your desktop background, a series of vacation pictures as your screen saver, or add all of your pictures to the Windows Sidebar as a slide show, there are many ways to keep all of those memories within view.

Set a picture as your desktop background

You probably have at least one picture that you never get tired of seeing. Here's how to make that picture your desktop background:

  1. Open Windows Photo Gallery by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking All Programs, and then clicking Windows Photo Gallery.

  2. Find the picture that you want to use, right-click it, and then click Set as desktop background.

    Your desktop background automatically changes to the picture that you selected.

Turn your pictures into a screen saver

Wouldn't it be great if you could turn your computer into a digital picture frame every time you took a short break? With the Photos screen saver, you can. Here's how:

  1. Open Screen Saver Settings by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Appearance and Personalization, clicking Personalization, and then clicking Screen Saver.

  2. Click Photos from the list of screen savers, and then click Settings to customize your screen saver.

    If you don't make any changes to the screen saver settings, all of the pictures and videos in Windows Photo Gallery will be used for your screen saver.

    If you don't want to use all of your pictures and videos, no problem. Just choose a certain folder, like the folder where you put all of your favorite vacation pictures. Or, if you use tags and ratings to organize your pictures, you can select pictures with only certain tags or ratings. For more information about organizing your pictures in Windows Photo Gallery, see Tips for organizing pictures.

    Picture of Photos screen saver settings
    Set which pictures appear in your Photos screen saver

    You can further customize your screen saver by choosing one of the many Windows Vista slide show themes. If you want a simple slide show, you can pick the Fade theme, which gently fades between each picture or video. If you prefer something a little more snazzy, you might pick the Travel theme, an elaborate and visually engaging theme that uses pan-and-zoom effects along with spinning and stacking to show several pictures and videos on screen at once. If you can't make up your mind, choose Random and you'll have a different theme each time the screen saver starts.

  3. When the screen saver is set up the way that you want it, click Save, and then click OK.

Add a slide show of your pictures to the Sidebar

If you have a digital camera, chances are good that you have a ton of pictures on your computer, most of which go unnoticed or get forgotten. You can solve this by adding all of your pictures to the Sidebar as a slide show. By catching glimpses of your pictures throughout your day, you can connect to your memories anytime you're at your computer.

To add a slide show to the Sidebar

The Slide Show gadget on your Sidebar automatically displays the sample pictures that come with your computer. Here's how to set it to show all of the pictures in your Pictures folder.

  1. On the Sidebar, point to the Slide Show gadget, and then click the Options button.

    Picture of the Slide Show gadget on the Sidebar showing the Options button
    Open slide show options
  2. In the Folder list, click Pictures, and then select the Include subfolders check box.

    Picture of Slide Show gadget settings page
    Set slide show options
  3. You can adjust the speed of the slide show by setting the time that each pictures is shown. It is automatically set for 15 seconds, but you can increase or decrease that length of time.

If at any time during the slide show you see a picture that you want to see at full size, just point to the picture and click the View button, and the picture will open in Windows Photo Gallery.

Picture of the Slide Show gadget on the Sidebar, showing how to control your slide show and view a picture in Windows Photo Gallery
Control your slide show

Once you have the picture open in Windows Photo Gallery, you can tag it or rate it so that it's easier to find later. Or, right-click the picture in Windows Photo Gallery and choose Set as desktop background to make that your new desktop background.

In the same way that you might put framed pictures up in your home or office, now you can personalize your computer with your favorite digital pictures.