Windows 7 Desktop Customization
I downloaded the Windows 7 beta and have been trying out all the cool new desktop customization features. Here are some of the highlights...
Customizing the Windows 7 Desktop
Windows 7, the latest version of Windows, is packed with features that will allow you to customize the look and function of your desktop, as well as allowing you to navigate more easily between open windows and programs. Windows 7 is slated to be released officially on October 22, 2009, however, a free Windows 7 beta download is available now from Microsoft.
Here are some tips for tricking out your Windows 7 machine with backgrounds, themes, gadgets and other cool stuff...
Windows 7 Desktop Backgrounds and Themes
One nice change that was made to the desktop in Windows 7 was the new desktop background options. You can select a single image from a library of images to use as your background, or select multiple images to create a slide show background for your desktop. The images are pretty cool, and include high-def selections from categories such as Architecture, Characters, Landscapes, Nature, and artsy Scenes. Of course you can also select images or photos from your Pictures Library.
To change your Windows 7 desktop background, right-click on the desktop, select Personalize, then click on Desktop Background. You can also click the Start button, then enter Background in the search box and hit Enter.
Click once to select an image as your background, right-click to preview, or ctrl-click to select multiple images for a slide show. If you go with multiple images, you can also select how often the background image changes (anywhere from 10 seconds to 24 hours), and choose a simple rotation or random shuffle. Since I'm testing Windows 7 on my laptop, I've decided it's fun to have a slide show that selects a random background once every hour. When I find one I really like, maybe I'll turn off the slide show and stick with that one.
And like in previous versions of Windows, you get a library of themes to choose from. These themes include a background image, program icons, pointer icons and in some cases even sounds.
To change your Windows 7 desktop theme, right-click on the desktop, select Personalize, and you'll see choices for Aero themes, Basic themes, and High Contrast themes.
The Aero themes are visually striking, but they will require more horsepower from your CPU and graphics adapter. I like the Landscape and Nature themes, but if you have an older machine that barely meets the Win7 hardware specs you might be better off with the Windows 7 Basic theme. For a look that's more like Windows XP, choose the Windows Classic theme.
Tweaking the Taskbar in Windows 7The taskbar has also undergone modifications. The biggest news is that you can now rearrange the tiles in your taskbar. To do this all you have to do is drag and drop the tiles to reorder them. You can also pin programs into your taskbar so that they are always there. Another new feature offered by the Windows 7 taskbar is that you can preview your active windows with Aero Peek.
To use the Aero Peek feature just move your mouse cursor over the tile in the taskbar that you want to preview.
When you do this a thumbnail image of the hidden window will appear. If you need to navigate to that window all you have to do is click on the thumbnail image. Aero Peek is also aware of apps that can have multiple tabs open, such as your web browser, and will show thumbnails for each active tab.
New Windows 7 Desktop ToolsWindows 7 offers some additional desktop customization tools. The Aero Snap feature allows you to control the size and position of your open windows in some interesting ways.
To maximize a window with Aero Snap, click on the title bar, then drag it to the top of your screen. Drag it to the left or right side of the screen and it will snap to that side and resize to fill half the screen.
If you don't like the new size or position, drag it away from the edge of the screen, and the previous window size will be restored. Oh, and Aero Snap also works with multiple monitors. If only it made a "schwing!" sound when the window popped into place. That might do more to convert Mac users to Win7 than anything I can think of.
Another nice feature offered by Windows 7 is Aero Shake. Shake is used to quickly minimize all open windows, except the one you want to work with. To try Aero Shake, click your mouse on the title bar of the window that you want to remain open and then drag the title bar quickly back and forth. This shaking motion will minimize all open windows except for the one you are shaking.
Finally, Windows 7 comes with several gadgets for your desktop. However, unlike previous versions of Windows, Windows 7 doesn’t offer a sidebar. Instead your gadgets can be added to your desktop in any position that you want.
To add gadgets to your Win7 desktop, just right-click on the desktop, the select Gadgets. Double click on a gadget to install it on your desktop, then move it to whatever position you like.
Want more Windows 7 themes, backgrounds or gadgets? Click to personalize your Windows 7 desktop with some fun downloads from Microsoft. You'll also find instructions on how to customize or create your own theme to use on your PC or share with others.
Got something to say about Windows 7 desktop customization? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 7 Jul 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Windows 7 Desktop Customization (Posted: 7 Jul 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved