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Top 10 Ways to Customize Windows 7

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Windows 7 is Microsoft's most customizable operating system yet. In this article, Windows 7 Your Way author Michael Miller offers his top 10 tips for customizing Windows 7 to make it look and run your way.

There are lots of little things you can do to personalize your copy of the Windows 7 operating system. Microsoft lets you configure all sorts of settings, from what appears on the desktop to which programs load automatically when Windows launches. All you need to know is what can be changed—and how to change it.

Customization #1: Change the Desktop Theme

Pretty much the first thing most people do when they get a new computer is go to work on the desktop. They like to create a personal desktop, complete with their own background image, window colors, shortcut icons, gadgets, and the like.

This is easier than ever in Windows 7, which organizes the desktop background, windows color, system sounds, and screen saver into what Microsoft calls a theme. Change a theme and all these elements change in tandem.

To apply one of Windows' pre-existing themes, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click anywhere on the desktop and click Personalize from the pop-up menu.
  2. When the Personalization window appears, as shown in Figure 1, click the new theme you want to apply.

Figure 1 Use the Personalization window to select a new theme.

The new theme is applied as soon as you click it in the Personalization window—no Save or OK button to click. This means you can see how the theme looks while you're still in the Personalization window—and change to another theme if you don't like the one you first selected.

You can also create your own custom themes. Start by applying the desktop background, colors, sounds, and screen saver you want for the theme; your choices now appear in the Personalization window as an Unsaved Theme.

Right-click this theme in the window and select Save Theme; when prompted, give the theme a name and click the Save button. This new theme now appears in the Personalization window for you to select in the future.

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