Customizing the Desktop Background

You can perk up any desktop with a background image. Your background can be supplied by a graphics file in any of several common formats (.bmp, . gif, jpg, .png, and .tif). And you're not stuck with a static image, either. You can set up a slide show of images, and you can even use an RSS feed to supply new images .

To select a background, right-click the desktop, choose Personalize from the shortcut menu, and then click Desktop Background. The Picture Location box in Desktop Background (shown in Figure 4-13) provides a selection of useful categories. The Windows Desktop Backgrounds category itself is divided into several image categories . The Top Rated Photos category includes pictures from your own Pictures library to which you've assigned a four-star or five-star rating. You might want to maximize the dialog box to get a better look at the offerings .

Figure 4-13 If you get tired of the wallpaper selections that come with Windows, you can always use your own pictures instead.

If you don't find what you need, click Browse. Folders to which you navigate via the Browse button will subsequently appear in the Location list, making it easy for you to go back and grab a different image from the same folder.

INSIDE OUT

Find more great photographs hidden in your Windows installation

In the Windows Desktop Backgrounds picture location, you might've noticed a category with your country name or region as its name; the category includes a number of photographs taken in that place. With a little digging, you can find pictures of other places already installed on your hard drive. To do so, follow these steps:

1. Display "super-hidden" files . In the Start menu search box, type folder options . On the View tab of Folder Options, select Show Hidden Files, Folders, And Drives and clear Hide Protected Operating System Files (Recommended) . Then click Apply

2. In Desktop Background, click Browse, and navigate to %Windir%\Globalization\ MCT. (On most systems, %Windir% is C:\Windows .) The MCT folder has a subfolder for each installed country. Expand one of those, and then select the subfolder with the country name spelled out. (For example, the full path might be C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT\MCT-ZA\South Africa .)

3. Return to Folder Options, undo the changes you made in step 1 (or simply click Restore Defaults), and click OK.

The newly found pictures appear in Desktop Background . And it's easy to get back to these pictures later; the country name now appears as an option in the Picture Location list

You can select one or more images in Desktop Background. (To select multiple images, click a category name or select the check box that appears when you point to each image you want to use . Alternatively, Ctrl + click each image .) When you select multiple images, Windows switches among the selected images periodically, creating a slide show effect.

After you have chosen your images, select one of the five Picture Position options to let Windows know how you want to handle images that are not exactly the same size as your screen resolution

Then, if you've selected more than one image, specify how often you want Windows to change the background; the settings range from 10 seconds to 1 day. Selecting Shuffle causes the backgrounds to be chosen randomly from your selected images; otherwise, Windows cycles through the images in the same order they appear in Desktop Background.

INSIDE OUT

Use pictures from an RSS feed

If you want an ever-changing collection of pictures to use as your desktop background, you can configure a theme to obtain images from an RSS feed. If you post your own photos to a photo-sharing site, for example, you could configure your computer to pick up those pictures and use them. (Not every photo feed works, however. You must use one that includes the photo as an enclosure. Flickr is one service that uses enclosures .) Because Windows 7 doesn't provide an interface for enabling RSS-fed images as desktop backgrounds, the easiest way to set one up is to edit an existing .theme file that includes a slide show. Open it in Notepad and, in the [Slideshow] section, remove the ImagesRootPath line and all ItemnPath lines. Replace them with a line like this (using the URL to the RSS feed, of course): RSSFeed=http://www.examp1e.com/rssfeed

For complete details about .theme files, see the MSDN article "Creating and Installing Theme Files" at w7io.com/0402.

3"

Here are some other ways to change the wallpaper:

• Right-click an image file in Windows Explorer, Windows Photo Viewer, or Windows Live Photo Gallery and choose Set As Desktop Background. This centers the selected image

• Right-click an image in Internet Explorer and choose Set As Background. This displays the selected image using the current picture position setting.

• Open any image file in Paint, open the Paint menu (the icon to the left of the Home tab), and choose Set As Desktop Background. A submenu lets you choose among Fill, Tile, and Center picture positions .

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