One of the things I like about Windows 7 is the Windows Theme concept. A theme is a combination of Windows Desktop background images (including changing backgrounds every few minutes), sounds, screen saver, and even selection of the border color and transparency.
Microsoft has a large number of themes that you can easily download and use. Even better, you can make your own themes easily, using your own images and digital photos.
To create your own Windows 7 Theme, for your own use or to share with others, the steps are easy.
First, right-click on the Windows Desktop (not on an icon, or a window, but on the Desktop itself). Then, on the pop-up Context Menu, select Personalize.
That will open the "Change the visuals and sounds on your computer" dialog box (image below).
There are some optional, but important, steps at this point. The new theme will use whichever screensaver and sounds you’re currently using in Windows 7.
If you want to change the Windows system sounds for your theme, do it before selecting the pictures for your theme. If you want to change the screensaver used by your theme, similarly, do it now.
Both of these links open the usual Windows dialog boxes to make the change immediately on your computer. If you want to change the color of the Window borders, do it now. Then, select the images for your theme.
When you’re ready to select the images for your theme, click on Desktop Background — either the words or the image, as shown.
This will open a Browse For Folder dialog box. You won’t see any pictures/images in this dialog box — you need to know where you’re pictures are stored.
Notice that the default folder is your userID’s folder. Within that folder are a number of other folders. You probably want either My Pictures or My Documents, unless you’re using a non-standard location for your pictures, as I do.
Either double-click on a folder’s name to open it, or use the triangular expansion icon next to the folder’s name. When you’ve selected the folder with your desired pictures, click OK.
Now you can select the pictures to be used in your Theme. Notice that the lower left-hand corner of the dialog box has an option selector that lets you specify what Windows is to do if the pictures don’t fill the frame. The default option is Fill (expand to fill the frame, while keeping the perspective, so some of the image may be lost. The other options are Fit, Stretch, Tile and Center.
If you want to use pictures that are in multiple folders, just create a new folder and copy those pictures into the new folder. The Theme wizard requires all the images to be in the same folder.
I’ve unselected the images that are in Portrait mode, as the Fit setting will expand (without distorting) the image to fit the monitor width, but will chop off all the "excess" at the top and bottom. If you want to use a portrait-mode image, select Center as the option, or use a photo editor to crop the image to display the portion you want as a landscape image.
Once you have picked the images you want to use and modified the other settings, you can click on Save Changes. This freezes them until the next time you edit a Theme, so if you don’t like the result, you can easily change it.
When you Save Changes, in this dialog box, a temporary theme is created and named Unsaved Theme. It will be there as Unsaved Theme until you either save it, delete it, or edit it.
To actually save the Theme, in the Choose a Theme dialog box ("Change the visuals and sounds on your computer), right-click on Unsaved Theme and choose either Save Theme or Save Theme For Sharing. I strongly recommend the latter — Save Theme For Sharing.
The Save Theme option only saves the name you assign and all the settings. The images, sounds and screensaver are not saved as part of the file.
The Save Theme For Sharing option saves the pictures, sounds and screensaver as part of the file, also.
If you’re going to be the only user, and you don’t want to share it with anyone else, why should you Save Theme For Sharing? The answer is simple — if you delete, rename or move a picture, the Theme will no longer be able to find it — they’re included only if you choose Save Theme For Sharing.