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Windows XP - Change Wallpaper / Background

Welcome to this Windows XP tutorial on how to change your your desktop background or what is know as wallpaper. You may want to change the wallpaper to personalise your desktop.

Thinks To Note
  • Click the images to see a larger version
  • Yellow arrows or circles indicate where to look or click
  • Unless specified otherwise use the 'left' mouse button to click

Windows XP - Change Wallpaper / Background

Start Menu in Windows XP showing selection of control panel

With your computer logged into Windows you should have the desktop loaded. In the lower left corner of the screen click the 'Start' button. A vertical menu will pop up.

On the right of the pop up start menu are many commonly used items. As pictured 'Control Panel' is one of these items.

Click the 'Control Panel' option on the start menu.

Control Panel selecting Display

The control panel will load showing all of the available settings. You will see an icon for 'Display' which we have highlighted in the picture.

With your mouse, double click the 'Display' icon.

The Display properties window will appear.

Display properties box in Windows XP

You will see five tabs along the top of the display properties window. The second one along is the 'Desktop' tab.

Click the 'Desktop' tab once with the mouse.

You will see a picture of a monitor which will show the current wallpaper or background choice, below that a list of pictures available as backgrounds

You will notice in our example that the background is just blue.

Display properties box selecting the the desktop tab

You will see a list of available background images with a vertical slider to the right. You can use the mouse to select one of these images as in the example.

When you select an image such as 'Autumn' in our example pictured, the preview monitor above shows what the picture will look like. If you are happy with this picture click the 'Ok' button at the bottom of the box.

You have some other options for the selected picture to the right. See below.

Display properties showing position of image Windows XP

If you click the position drop down box as pictured you can select how the image is displayed on your monitor.

Depending on the size of the picture you can 'center', 'tile' or 'stretch' the image.

If the image is large then it is better to center the image on the screen and this will be the majority of the time.

If the picture is a pattern then you may want to choose tile so the small picture is repeated across the screen appearing as though it is one image.

You can stretch an image too if it doesn't quite fill your monitor although this will distort the image.

Display properties box selecting the desktop color

Rather than choosing an image you can choose a desktop colour.

From the color drop down box you will see some basic colors for you to choose your desktop background color.

Choose a color you want and you will see the preview monitor above change to show you the selected color choice. If you are happy with the selection click 'Ok'

Another option you have is to use your own picture. Click the 'Browse' button above the 'Position' drop down box and a browse file selection box will appear.

Display - using your own image on the Windows XP desktop

The default location for the images is the 'My Pictures' folder located within your my documents folder.

If you want to select a different location then you can use the 'Look In' drop down box at the top of the browse box to choose the drive and folder where your pictures are located.

As you can see in our example we have a picture in the 'My Pictures' folder already. Click the picture and click the 'Open' button.

Display properties showing preview of own image

In the preview monitor you can see our picture is shown.

If you are happy with the selcted image click the 'Ok' button at the bottom of the display properties box.

The selected image will be placed as the desktop background as can be seen on our desktop example below.

Showing the desktop picture

If you no longer want a desktop picture repeat this tutorial from the top and select 'none' from the list of available pictures.

Next tutorial - Change Windows XP Screen Saver

Return to Windows XP Tutorial List