Tips and tricks for creating a theme

In Windows 7, you can change the desktop background, window border color, sounds, and screen saver to create your own customized theme (to learn how, see Create a theme). There are also lots of things you can do to make sure your themes look great on your desktop. Here are a few tips and tricks you can try.

Tip: Use landscape orientation

When you're choosing pictures to use in a theme, look for pictures with a wide (landscape) orientation instead of a tall (portrait) orientation. Most monitors use landscape orientation, so landscape pictures will look best on your screen. If you use pictures with a portrait orientation, you might have to shrink or crop them to fit the screen.

Picture of landscape pictures that come with Windows
Examples of landscape pictures

If you have portrait pictures in your desktop background slide show, you can remove them without moving or deleting any files.

To remove pictures from the desktop background slide show

  1. Open Desktop Background by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button and clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type desktop background, and then click Change desktop background.

    If the current slide show pictures are in a different location, click the correct location in the Picture location list, or click Browse to find the folder where your slide show pictures are located.

  2. Do one of the following:

    • Point to each picture that you want to remove from the slide show, clear its check box, and then click Save changes.

    • Press and hold the Ctrl key, click each picture that you want to remove, and then click Save changes. Only the selected pictures will appear in the slide show.

    Notes

    • Don't clear the check box for any picture that you want to keep in the slide show.

    • Make sure that at least two pictures are selected. If only one picture is selected, the slide show will end and the selected picture will become the desktop background for your theme.

Trick: Fit pictures to your screen

For your theme to look its best, make the most of all the available space on the screen. Apply your pictures to the desktop (to learn how, see Create a desktop background slide show) and make sure they look the way you want them to. If your pictures are too big or small on your desktop, you can change the picture position.

To change the picture position

  1. Open Desktop Background by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button and clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type desktop background, and then click Change desktop background.

  2. If you don't see your slide show pictures, click the Picture location list to view other categories, or click Browse to search your computer for the folder where the slide show pictures are located. All of the pictures must be located in the same folder.

    Picture of the Picture location list
    Look for pictures in other locations on your computer.
  3. In the Picture position list, select how you want the pictures to appear on the screen, and then click Save changes.

If your pictures still don't look right, you can resize them using Paint. For more information, see Resize a picture using Paint. If you're planning to share your theme and want to make sure it will look good on different types of monitors, it's best to use pictures that are 1900 pixels wide by 1220 pixels tall, because these will work well on most screen sizes (including widescreen monitors).

Tip: Keep your pictures simple (and centered)

Sometimes less is more. When you're selecting pictures for your theme, try to avoid images that are too busy or detailed. They can be distracting or make it difficult to see icons on the desktop.

Also, it's best to choose pictures with key details in the middle. If the focal point of a picture is at the sides, top or bottom, part of it might be cropped to fit the screen—or covered by the taskbar, gadgets, or desktop icons.

Picture of the desktop
Choose pictures that leave space for desktop icons, the taskbar, and gadgets

Trick: Create your own window border color

Windows comes with several border colors you can choose from. But if none of them are quite right for your new theme, you can mix your own shade.

Picture of available window colors
Border colors that are available in Windows 7

To make a custom window border color

  1. Open Window Color and Appearance by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, and then clicking Control Panel. In the search box, type window color, and then click Change window glass colors.

  2. Click the color you want to customize, and then move the Color intensity slider to make it lighter or darker. You'll be able to see the color, and any changes you make to it, on the borders of your open windows and the taskbar.

  3. Click the chevron Picture of the chevron icon next to Show color mixer and adjust the hue, saturation, and brightness, and then click Save changes.

To learn more about themes, see Using themes. You can also go to the Personalization Gallery to get more themes for Windows 7.