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Screen Settings in XP

Setting up Your Screen Saver 

Themes   Desktop   Choosing Your Own Pictures   Colour

It's easy to change the appearance of your desktop, and you can change it as often as takes your fancy. Right click anywhere on the desktop (but not on a shortcut) then click Properties and this dialogue box will pop up.

The menu that appears when you right click the desktopDisplay Properties dialogue in XP

When you make a choice on any tab, click Apply before going on to the next tab.


The Themes tab may be of little interest just yet, as initial choices are limited, and, if you are new to computers and the Internet, now is not a good time to start downloading unknown and possibly dodgy decorative items. Either stick with the installed theme for the moment, or change (as I did) to Windows Classic. I'm not overkeen on the eye-candy, and suspect that all those pretty colours and rounded corners might be using resources that I need for other things.

Dropdown list of themesWindows Classic theme

A "Theme" includes such things as "wallpaper" (the background of your computer desktop), a screen-saver, colours, cursors and sounds. While all of these can be fun and entertaining at first use, many elaborate themes, especially those that include animated cursors and time-consuming sounds, can become unbelievably annoying very quickly.

While the themes provided by Microsoft can be turned on or off with a couple of clicks, beware of "free" themes offered for download. Some of them are very hard indeed to get rid of, and sometimes have hidden spyware into the bargain.


Selecting a background for your desktopThe desktop tab lets you choose a background picture, pattern or colour. There's a good selection offered, so try several until you find one you'd like to use.

At the right side of the desktop dialogue box you'll see a button marked Position. The drop-down list for that button offers Stretch, Tile and Center. If you choose a picture, Stretch is usually the best option, unless your picture is tall rather than wide. In that case, choose Center. All pictures in the default list work with Stretch.

If you choose a pattern tile in the main box, then choose Tile from the Position drop-down. Tiles are very small and are meant to be repeated all over the desktop.

You can quickly see which items on the list in the main box are pattern tiles; they're identified by a paintbrush icon.

Choosing Your Own Pictures

If you have any pictures—photographs or paintings—saved in the My Pictures folder, you may see them included in the main list. Otherwise, click the Browse button and navigate to it, or to any other in which you've saved pictures.

...and that isn't the end of the story! You will find that many graphics programs have an option to set a file as wallpaper, so if you're particularly pleased with something you've just created or edited you can choose that option immediately and change your desktop without visiting the Display Properties box.

Have you just received a photo of your first grandchild? Could anything make better wallpaper for your computer?

The location of the "Set as Wallpaper" option varies from program to program. For instance, IrfanView has it half-way down the Options menu, Paint has it on the File menu. Oh, you can only set a picture directly from Paint if you've saved it as a bmp. A Paint gif or jpg will work fine when chosen from the Display Properties dialogue, though.


The third button on the right of this box is marked Color. If you have a centred picture you can choose a color that sets it off. If (like me—ssssh!) you're one of those terrible people who clutters the desktop with shortcut icons, you might like to just choose a pleasing background colour and set your wallpaper to the top choice, None.

First colour boxOn first clicking the drop-down, you may feel that you have but 20 colours from which to choose—but wait! See that button labelled Other? After clicking that button you can choose any colour your eye desires.Extended colour box

Setting up Your Screen Saver 

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