Microsoft’s Windows 8.1, isn’t well known for how easy it makes restoring PCs and tablets to factory settings or getting the latest apps and games from a safe place. Mostly, it’s known for the Start Screen and how it utterly alienated people who liked the Desktop. It’s the Desktop that allows users to resize apps and store icons. It was also through the Desktop that users were able to set a background. Many don’t know that in Windows 8.1, that’s still true.
Setting a background in Windows 8.1 is both just as easy and slightly more complicated than it was with Windows 7. That’s because users have to understand two different interfaces: the Start Screen and the Desktop. On its own, you can’t set a background in Windows 8.1 for the Start Screen in the traditional sense. There are some things similar to backgrounds, but they’re called tattoos and aren’t really that interesting visually. What you can do is have the Start Screen mirror the Desktop background you set.
First, press the Windows key on your keyboard or press the Windows button near your display to go back to the Home Screen.
Now is a good time to take a look at your Start Screen and get a feel for how you’d like to change it. Place your mouse pointer in the top-right corner of your screen if you have a device with a mouse. If you’re using touch, place your finger on the right edge of your display and swipe to the left.
Tap or click on the Settings Charm in the button of the black Charms bar on the right side of your screen.
Welcome to the Settings menu. Tap or click on the Personalize option at the top of your screen in the Settings menu.
From here you can choose two colors and a Tattoo. Tattoos show up in the background of your Start Screen and have a unique design. You can customize any Tattoo with one of the choices listed under Background Color. You can also choose a new Accent Color that changes the Taskbar color inside the Desktop menu.
Earlier I mentioned that you couldn’t change the Start Screen background individually, but you could tie it to the Desktop. Click or tap on the square in the fourth row with the rest of the Tattoos. That should lock your Start Screen background to the Desktop.
Now it’s time to change that Desktop background. Press the Windows key on your keyboard or the Windows button near your device’s display.
Click or tap on the Desktop tile.
Right-click anywhere in the Desktop if you have a mouse. If you’re using touch, tap anywhere and hold your finger that to bringing up the menu.
Click or tap on Personalize.
The first thing you’ll notice in the Personalization screen is your Synced Theme. By default, Windows 8.1 uses Microsoft’s OneDrive settings to sync settings and design flourishes in the background. You can choose other themes if you’d like the device you’re using to be unique.
Tap or click on Desktop Background.
Click or tap on the drop down menu labeled Picture Location to browse through the wallpapers Microsoft includes plus any pictures you’ve loaded onto your device. Choose a picture and change how it appears using the Picture Position option to get everything just how you like.
Select multiple pictures to get a slide show of backgrounds that changes overtime. You can set the background in Windows 8.1 to switch in increments of seconds, minutes and hours. If you’re using a mobile device, it’s a good idea to leave the battery power check box enabled. Select the Shuffle box to get different backgrounds in random order.
It’s worth noting that Windows 8.1 automatically adjusts the accent color based on what background is enabled.
When you’re done making your selections, hit Save changes.
Now go back to your Start Screen or Desktop to admire the new background you decided on.
Again, when you set a background in Windows 8.1, it’s important that you remember there’s constant syncing going on by default. If you have one Windows 8.1 device that you normally leave at home, this isn’t a big deal. This becomes a very big deal if you take your device in publicly a lot or have used the same Microsoft Account on a computer at work. The backgrounds you set here will automatically sync back if you don’t manually choose that Unsynced Theme option.
To be clear, these options are only available for users of Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 operating system. If you’re running Windows 8 you’ll need to upgrade to Windows 8.1 before what’s available to you looks like what’s available in thus tutorial. Windows 8.1 is a free update available directly from the Windows Store app.