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How to Personalize Windows 10 Appearance

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Windows 10 introduces a Personalisation section Settings to allow users customise various visual aspects of the desktop all from one place. Here is what you need to know to get your computer looking exactly how you want it.

1. Background slideshow

You can replace the desktop wallpaper with a slideshow.

Head to ‘Start > Settings > Personalization > Background’ and use the Background menu to select the ‘Slideshow’ option. Click ‘Browse’ and select the album you want. Windows will now cycle through the images in the album for the defined duration.

2. Change accent colour

The Accent colour shows up in various places around the Windows 10 desktop and on elements, such as the radio buttons. Windows will pick a colour to match the wallpaper, but you can also pick one manually.

Go to ‘Start > Settings > Personalization > Colours’ and set the ‘Automatically Pick an accent colour’ option to ‘Off’. This brings up a palette for you to choose a colour from it.

3. Colour the start menu

The Start menu (and taskbar and notification center) is black and grey by default. While it matches the default colour scheme, it still appears at odds when you select a custom accent colour.

To apply the accent colour to the Start menu, visit ‘Start > Settings > Personalization > Colours’ and toggle the ‘Show colour on Start, taskbar and action center’ option to ‘On’.

4. Add apps to the lock screen

You can view notifications from apps by adding them to the lock screen. Navigate to ‘Start > Settings > Personalization > Lock’ screen and scroll down to the ‘Choose apps to show quick status’ section.

Click on any of the grey boxes and pick an app from the list to view their status on the lock screen. However, bear in mind these lock screen badges drain your battery while fetching data.

5. Move the taskbar

By default, the taskbar is at the bottom of the screen but you can place it on the other edges as well. Head to ‘Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Taskbar and Navigation’.

This brings up the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties window. Here you can use the ‘Taskbar location on screen’ menu to select a position.

6. Customize the taskbar

To tweak the behavior of the taskbar, visit ‘Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > Taskbar and Navigation’. From the ‘Taskbar and Start Menu Properties’ window, toggle the ‘Auto-hide the taskbar’ option to gain space.

To make space on the taskbar, switch to the Toolbar tab and use Search on the taskbar menu to replace the search bar with an icon.

7. Virtual taskbars

In Task View’s virtual desktops feature, you may have seen that each desktop is assigned its own taskbar with its own app buttons. To get the same taskbar buttons on all your virtual desktops, open Settings from the Start menu, choose System and select Multitasking from the side column.

Under Virtual desktops, change the first setting to ‘All desktops’ in the dropdown.

8. Change quick action icons

You might not have much use for the default quick action icons available in the Notification Center. To customize what quick action icons are displayed in the Center, head to ‘Start > Settings > System > Notification & actions’.

In the ‘Quick Actions’ section on the right, click on any of the four icons and select from any of the six other available options from the drop-down list.

9. Resize start menu

You can also resize the Start menu as you would any other window. Just grab an edge and drag it to size. However, you can’t drag diagonally, only up or down to make it taller or wider.

If you want the Start Menu stretched across the desktop, go to ‘Start > Settings > Personalization > Start’ and switch on the ‘Use full-screen Start when in the desktop’ option

10. Pin items on start menu

You can now pin items on the Start Menu. From the Edge web browser, click the ‘More actions’ button and select ‘Pin to Start’ to pin websites.

Similarly, from the Mail app, right-click on any folder and select ‘Pin to Start’ to add a tile for the mail folder. You can also add a tile for any app, folder and executable file to the Start menu by right-clicking and selecting ‘Pin to Start’.

11. Customize search

The Windows 10 Taskbar displays a rather lengthy input box on the left. From here you can search files, settings, apps and the web – and even access Cortana – using simple search terms and phrases.

But if you don’t use it often, it can reduce to an icon or disappear completely. Right-click the Taskbar, hover over Search then select either Hidden or Show search icon.

12. Notification area

The Notifications area sits on the far-right of the Taskbar. To choose which icons appear here, right-click an empty space on the Taskbar, select Properties and then Notification area: Customize.

From this menu you can ‘Turn system icons off’ completely or ‘Select which icons appear on the taskbar’ – icons you turn off remain hidden in a mini pop-up window.

13. Task view

To the right of the Windows search bar is an icon that opens Task View – a bird’s eye view of all open windows. If you don’t use multiple desktops (the + button on the Task View screen) you can remove the Task View icon from the Taskbar and still access the view by using the Windows Key + Tab key combination.

To remove the icon, right-click it and untick ‘Show Task View button’.

14. How create multiple desktops in Windows 10

You can create multiple, separate work environments. For example, you can have work and play desktops. To create a new desktop, hit the ‘Task View’ button in the Taskbar and click the ‘New desktop’ button. When you open a window in an individual desktop, it will only appear there.

Hit the ‘Task View’ button again to explore each desktop.

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