Personalize your PC

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Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 are all about you and the stuff you love—and there are lots of ways to personalize your PC with your favorite apps, people, photos, and colors.

If you sign in to your PC with a Microsoft account, all the things you've personalized go with you. When you sign in to another PC or device with that same Microsoft account, you'll see the same pictures, contacts, and settings. And, if other people use your PC, they should sign in with their own Microsoft account so they can personalize with their own favorite apps, people, photos, and colors (without changing any of yours).

Signing in with a picture password

With a picture password, you can sign in to your PC with your favorite photo instead of a hard-to-remember password. You choose the picture, which gestures—circles, straight lines, or taps—you use, and where on the picture you trace them. You can draw a picture password directly on a touchscreen with your finger, or you can use a mouse to draw your shapes. Everyone who has a Microsoft account on your PC can set up their own picture password.

To set up a picture password

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click Accounts, and tap or click Sign-in options.

  3. Under Picture password, tap or click Add.

  4. Sign in with your Microsoft account info, then follow the steps on the screen to choose a picture and pick your gestures.

Tip

Picture passwords are more than a fun way to sign in—they can also be more secure than regular passwords because they’re harder to guess.

Choosing where you go when you sign in

By default, you see your Start screen every time you sign in to your PC, but you can go to the desktop or the Apps view instead if you want.

To boot to the desktop instead of Start

  1. Open Taskbar and Navigation properties by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering Taskbar in the search box, and then tapping or clicking Taskbar and Navigation in the results.

  2. Tap or click the Navigation tab, then tap or click the When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start check box. Then tap or click OK.

To go to the Apps view instead of the Start screen

You can automatically go to the Apps view whenever you go to Start. The Apps view lists all of the apps installed on your PC, but they won't have tiles and you won't see updates from them like you do on Start.

  1. Open Taskbar and Navigation properties by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you're using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search), entering Taskbar in the search box, and then tapping or clicking Taskbar and Navigation in the results.

  2. Tap or click the Navigation tab, and then tap or click the Show the Apps view automatically when I go to Start check box. Then tap or click OK.

Changing your account picture

Your account picture is associated with your Microsoft account, so you’ll see it whenever you sign in to your PC and on your Start screen. Plus your friends and family will see it wherever they have you listed as a contact.

You can use one of your own favorite photos for an account picture, or use an app to create or edit one. And if you have a webcam, you can take a picture or create a video clip.

The account picture page

To change your account picture

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click Accounts, and then tap or click Your account.

  3. Pick one of the following options:

    Find a favorite photo. If you want to find a favorite photo to use, tap or click Browse. You can navigate to photos on your PC, or to pictures you store on OneDrive. Tap or click a photo to select it, then tap or click Choose Image.

    Use an app to create or edit a photo. If you want to use an app to create, find, or edit a photo, tap or click the app you want to use, then follow the on–screen instructions or find a photo. All the apps installed on your PC that can edit or create a photo will be listed here. If you don’t see an app to use, find out how to get one in Getting apps for your PC.

    Take a picture or make a video clip. If you want to take a picture or record a video clip, tap or click Camera. Then take a photo, or switch to video mode to make a video clip.

Customizing Start

You can pick the tiles, colors, and pictures on your Start screen, and organize your apps. If other people use your PC, make sure they all sign in with their own Microsoft account. That way, each person can have their own customized Start screen. To find out more, see Start screen.

To change the background

  1. Open Start by swiping in from the right edge of the screen and then tapping Start. (Or, if you're using a mouse, point to the lower-left corner of the screen, move your mouse all the way into the corner, and then click Start.)

  2. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Settings.)

  3. Tap or click Personalize, and then tap or click the background, background color, and accent color you want. The background and accent colors you pick will show up in a few other places too, like the charms and the sign–in screen.

The personalization settings in Start

To see your desktop background on Start

You can use your desktop background picture as the background on your Start screen. Start will update automatically whenever the desktop background changes.

  1. Open Start by swiping in from the right edge of the screen and then tapping Start. (Or, if you're using a mouse, point to the lower-left corner of the screen, move your mouse all the way into the corner, and then click Start.)

  2. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, and then tap Settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, and then click Settings.)

  3. Tap or click Personalize, and then tap or click the preview of your desktop background.

To pin apps to Start

You can pin your favorite apps to Start so you can get to them quickly and see updates from them at a glance.

  1. Open Start by swiping in from the right edge of the screen and then tapping Start. (Or, if you're using a mouse, point to the lower-left corner of the screen, move your mouse all the way into the corner, and then click Start.)

  2. Swipe up from the middle of the screen to go to the Apps view. (If you’re using a mouse, click the arrow button in the lower-left corner.)
  3. Browse to the app you want to pin and tap it or right-click it to select it.

  4. Tap or click Pin to Start.

To unpin apps

Unpinning an app is different than uninstalling an app—if you unpin an app from your Start screen, the app will still show up when you search for it, and it’ll still be in the Apps view if you need to find it again.

  1. Open Start by swiping in from the right edge of the screen and then tapping Start. (Or, if you're using a mouse, point to the lower-left corner of the screen, move your mouse all the way into the corner, and then click Start.)

  2. Press and hold or right-click the app you want to unpin to select it.

  3. Tap or click Unpin from Start.

To move a tile

  1. On the Start screen, press and hold a tile you’d like to move. (If you’re using a mouse, click and hold the tile.)

  2. Drag the tile where you want it.

To resize a tile

  1. On the Start screen, press and hold the tile you want to resize. (If you’re using a mouse, right-click the tile.)

  2. Tap or click Resize, and then pick the size you want.

Customizing your lock screen

The lock screen is the screen you see when you lock your PC (or when it locks automatically after you haven't been using it for a while). You can add your favorite photos of your kids, pets, and vacations, or even create a rotating slide show.

If you want some free photos to use, download some desktop backgrounds from the Personalization Gallery.

The lock screen

To add photos to your lock screen

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click PC and devices, and then tap or click Lock screen.

  3. If you want to use just one photo on your lock screen, tap or click Browse, and then choose the picture you want (you can choose photos on your PC or OneDrive).

  4. If you want to see a slide show on your lock screen, tap or click Play a slide show on the lock screen to turn it on.

  5. Tap or click Add a folder and browse to a folder on your PC or OneDrive.

  6. Tap or click the folder to select it, tap or click Choose this folder, and then tap or click OK. You can pick up to ten folders.

To get app updates on your lock screen

You can choose a few apps to show updates on the lock screen so you can see what's going on even when your PC is locked.

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click PC and devices, and then tap or click Lock screen.

  3. Under Lock screen apps, tap or click the plus button The plus button. Then tap or click an app in the list to select it.
Choosing a lock screen app

To show detailed app info on the lock screen

You can pick one app to give you detailed updates on the lock screen so you can get info about things like the next appointment on your calendar, or see who's calling you on Skype.

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click PC and devices, and then tap or click Lock screen.

  3. Under Choose an app to display detailed status, tap or click the plus button The plus button, and then tap or click an app in the list to select it.
Tip

By default, Windows will only use the pictures that fit best on your screen for the lock screen slide show. But if you want to use all of the pictures in the folders you selected for your slide show, tap or click the Only use the pictures that will fit best on my screen slider to turn it off.

Syncing your settings

If you’re using a Microsoft account, you can sync your lock screen picture, Start screen, and desktop themes. That way, when you sign in to other PCs and devices, you'll see all the things you've personalized.

To sync your settings

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen, tap Settings, and then tap Change PC settings.
    (If you're using a mouse, point to the lower-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer up, click Settings, and then click Change PC settings.)

  2. Tap or click OneDrive, then tap or click Sync settings.

  3. Tap or click Sync your settings on this PC to turn it on.

  4. Under Personalization settings, choose the settings you want to sync.

Note: You’ll be able to see tiles on the Start screen for all of your apps on any device where you sign in. But to use an app on another device, you’ll need to install it on that device. For more info, see Use your Microsoft account to install apps on multiple PCs.

Customizing the desktop

You can use themes, desktop backgrounds, window colors, and screen savers to personalize your desktop. If you want some free themes and desktop backgrounds to use, there are lots to choose from in the Personalization Gallery. To learn more about personalizing the desktop, see Get started with themes.

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