My daughter sent me a lovely photo of her family and I would like to use it as the desktop wallpaper on my PC. What’s the easiest way to do that in Windows 11, Dave?
There’s no question that the most personalized aspect of Windows, whether it’s Windows 95 or the latest release candidate of Windows 11, is the desktop wallpaper. Whether you’re someone who has dozens of file, app, and folder icons covering it or keep it pretty empty, you probably spend more time staring at that image than just about anything else on your computer. As a result, it’s always been something where people strive to come up with fun and interesting ways to add their own photos, images, posters, or similar.
The process has also become incredibly easy. In fact, it’s literally a one-click operation, no programs or apps required. That’s right, you don’t even need to open up the image file to be able to set it as your Desktop wallpaper. The wrinkle is that Windows also has a lot of different ways that it tries to make things look good and they don’t always work out…
SET A PHOTO AS YOUR DESKTOP WALLPAPER
If your daughter’s photo is still in your email program, you’ll want to save it to your computer. Perhaps you’ll just drop it on the Desktop, or perhaps you’ll neatly file it away in a folder – or subfolder of Pictures – for the task. I have a wallpaper that’s from Microsoft but if you look carefully on the top left, there’s a small blue square on white photo file icon present too:
To do that, I simply right-click on the photo icon. A menu appears:
Lots and lots of choices but the fourth one down is what we seek: “Set as desktop background“. Choose it and…
That’s it. You just updated your desktop image. If you’re satisfied with the result, you can go on with your day, mission accomplished.
If it looks less than ideal, however, it might be in a layout or resolution that’s sub-optimal for your computer. Here’s how to find out, and how to improve your results.
STOP STRETCHING YOUR DESKTOP BACKGROUND
I started out with a photo that was already high resolution, over 2500 pixels wide, so while it was stretched to perfectly fit the Desktop, the results were still very good. But what if I’d started with something at a far lower resolution? It’s going to look pretty mediocre at best.
The first task, then, is to figure out how much it’s stretched the original image, and that can be done by changing the fill approach being utilized by Windows itself. Don’t worry, it’s not complicated! Simply right-click anywhere on the Desktop that doesn’t have an icon or app. This menu will appear:
Choose “Personalize” from this menu and you’ll jump right into Settings > Personalization. Choose “Background” from the options thereon, and you’ll be here:
We’re interested in the option labeled “Choose a fit for your desktop image“. By default, it will either be Stretch or Fill, but a click shows there are quite a few options:
Choose “Center” and it will show you the image and add black space around it:
You can see that my image is almost the right size by default, which is great! Many images are quite a bit smaller, which can result in wallpapers that are blurry or fuzzy. If that’s what you’re seeing, you might ask your daughter to send a ‘native’ or ‘original’ resolution of the photo to try instead.
What’s the ideal resolution? Turns out you can figure that out while you’re in Settings too! Just go to System > Display and look for “Display resolution“:
I have a big screen so my resolution is pretty big too, at 3456 x 2160. If I wanted the very best possible results with my PC desktop wallpaper, that’s the resolution I would want to use. Send that along to your daughter and you’ll have a beautiful, crystal-clear, high-resolution wallpaper of her family set up in no time, just like a pro!
Pro tip: I’ve been writing about Windows for many years. Please check out my Windows help area for lots more useful tutorials while you’re visiting the site!