Set a Theme: How to Improve Your Boring Windows Desktop

Is your Windows desktop looking a bit bland? Liven it up with a fresh paint job by applying a new theme, which can be applied to a specific wallpaper image, color, mouse cursors, and even sounds all in one shot. You can choose a built-in Windows themes or fashion your own.

To get started in Windows 10 or Windows 11, right-click on the desktop and select Personalize from the menu. At the Personalization window, click the Themes category. Windows displays a thumbnail of your current theme with the background, color, sounds, and mouse cursor.

Edit a Theme

Click the category for Themes

(Credit: Lance Whitney)

Edit your current theme by selecting any one element. For example, click the Background option and choose a new background image for your desktop.

Choose a background image for your desktop

(Credit: Lance Whitney)

Choose Color to pick an accent color for your background. Or click Custom Color to concoct your own color to use as the accent color. You can also opt to give your colors a transparent effect, show accent colors on the Start menu and taskbar, and choose a light or dark mode.

Choose an Accent color

(Credit: Lance Whitney)

Another element you can change is the sounds your computer makes. Choose Sounds from the Themes page to open a small window that lets you change the default sounds for various Windows actions and programs. You can also opt to hear the Windows Startup sound.

Click the Sounds option

(Credit: Lance Whitney)

Click Mouse cursor to open the Mouse Properties window, where you can pick a new cursor for your mouse. Select each mouse state and click the Browse button to look through the available cursor icons. You can cut to the chase by clicking a specific scheme to change all the mouse cursor states in one fell swoop.

Click the Mouse Cursor option

(Credit: Lance Whitney)

When you are all set, click Save to name your custom theme and keep your new background, color, sound, and cursor together.

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Pick a Theme

Choose a built-in theme

(Credit: Lance Whitney)

If you don’t want to go through the steps of creating your own theme, you can instead choose among one of the themes that comes with Windows. At the Themes window, click the thumbnail for one of the available themes.

Get more themes

(Credit: Lance Whitney)

You can see more themes in the Microsoft store if you click Browse themes (Windows 11) or Get more themes in Microsoft Store (Windows 10). When you find a theme you like, click it to display its full page and then click Install (Windows 11) or Get (Windows 10) to install it.

Download and install theme

(Credit: Lance Whitney)

After the theme has been installed, click the Open button to return to the Themes screen. You will now see the new theme nestled among the existing ones. Click it to apply that theme and see how it repaints your desktop, Start menu, and other elements.

View your new theme

(Credit: Lance Whitney)

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