How do I change the background picture on my Windows XP PC?
I might be the last person to the party, but I can't figure out how to easily change the background picture on my WinXP ASUS EeePC Netbook. For that matter, how can I find new pictures online that I can use as a replacement desktop image?
While the desktop picture is one of the most enjoyable things to change on your computer since you probably spend a lot of your time staring at it, it's surprising to me that if you scan across a dozen computers in a café or airport, you'll find that 30-50% of users never change the desktop from its default.
Add the unusual screen dimensions of the ASUS EeePC screen (my 1000H, for example, operates at 1024x600 resolution) and it's perhaps no surprise that people leave things alone rather than fiddle with them.
The irony is that, just like on the Macintosh, it's pretty darn easy to change your desktop picture on a Windows XP computer system. The fastest way is to right-click on the Desktop itself, which pops up a menu:
Now click on the "Desktop" tab...
You can see a list of different pictures and patterns you can apply to your desktop here. The default, as you can see above, is "EeePC01" and it's not very exciting, all in all.
Tip: if you look closely at the list of background images, you'll see that there are two different icons represented. The paintbrush icon is a pattern that "tiles", so it's small and not a photograph. The tiny paintcan icon, however, denotes a full-size image that's usually a photo.
For tiled images, note the options on the lower right for position and, if you don't tile and have an image smaller than your desktop resolution, the background color to use. Even with photos, you'll find that "stretch" is a good default setting.
I'm going to choose "Radiance", an amazing photo of the moon, and leave the default Position setting of "Center". The preview looks like this:
Change "Center" to "Stretch", however, and now it looks like this:
Nice. That's what I want, so I'll click on "Apply" and now have a cool lunar desktop.
To experiment with adding my own photograph, I've decided to pop over to the splendid NASA Image of the Day Gallery hosted by our friends at NASA. Tons of amazing photos, all free for the download. After spending way too much time enjoying the gallery (who knew they were so gorgeous??) I picked an image and choose the 1024x768 image size from the download area.
At this point I can simply right click on the image and choose "Set as Desktop Background" from the contextual pop-up menu. Or I can save the image itself onto the Desktop by choosing "Save Image As..." and, in this case, calling it "nasa-dual-galaxy.jpg"
Double-clicking on the image opens it up in Windows Picture and Fax Viewer and, surprise, right-clicking on the image pops up a menu that includes "Set as Desktop Background":
That's what you want to select. A second or two later, you've got a new desktop image. Congratulations!
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