Do you ever get tired of looking at your laptop or PC? When you depend on it for your work, personal, and social tasks, you are looking at that screen a lot. Maybe your eyes need a rest from the same old colors every day, or you might enjoy a seasonal touch. It is easy to change your desktop theme and there are plenty of themes available. Today I will share what I think are the 20 best Windows 8 themes plus some information on customizing a theme once you have it.
What is a desktop theme?
Most people change their PC desktop’s wallpaper now and then. That’s really easy to do. In fact, you can find any picture you like on the web and set it as your wallpaper. I’ll tell you how to do that real quick before going on to tell you more about desktop theme packages.
If you find a photo online that you would like to set as your desktop background, simply hold your cursor over the image, do a right click on your mouse, and then select “set as desktop background” (Firefox) or “set as background” (iExplorer). For Chrome users, well, this is a feature your browser does not have.
That is a quick and easy way to set a static desktop wallpaper of your choosing, but there is more to a Windows desktop theme than the wallpaper.
A theme for your Windows 8 PC will usually have a set of desktop backgrounds that rotate or change plus a color theme for your windows. Some themes also come with a set of sounds and set a matching screen saver for you. The background slide show may be of the regular sort (for one monitor) or it can be panoramic with an option to use it in a dual-monitor set up.
When you first opened your Windows 8 operating system , there were already several themes waiting for you. Let’s look at a couple of the themes already available in Windows 8.
To find the themes already on your PC:
- Go to the desktop,
- Right click with your mouse, and
- Choose Personalize.
If you completed those three simple steps, you have opened the Personalization Control Panel (PCPL).
In the window within the window are your themes. Here is how they will display:
- Any theme(s) you have downloaded, created, or customized will appear first,
- Then the Windows default themes show up, and
- Last in the list, the high contrast themes appear.
Click on one of those available. For example, the default Windows 8 theme Lines and Colors is a nice one.
Customize Your Theme
Most of the time you will want to us a theme just as it is, but what if you want to tweak it a bit? Let’s make sure you know how to do that before looking at the themes themselves.
When you click on a theme in the PCPL, all the components of the theme appear at the bottom of the window. This is where you can customize the theme.
Here are some of the ways you can customize a theme once it downloads:
Slide Show Speed — Click on the Desktop Background (slide show) icon and the window will change to a display of all the images or wallpapers in the theme. These will rotate regularly on your computer desktop so that you see each one of them at different times. In fact, if you look below the set of images, you will see that it is easy to adjust how often these images change. The default is usually set to 15 minutes, but you can change it to anything ranging between 10 seconds and a full day.
Rotate or Shuffle — To the right of the time drop-down is the option to shuffle rather than rotate the images.
Power Management — Below the time drop-down is a box that you can check if you want to pause the slide show when battery power is low, for those of us using a laptop.
Tile or Fill — Over to the left of all of this is a drop-down for Picture Position. Usually it is left to the default (Full) but you can change it if you would rather tile or center the slideshow image.
Remove an Image — Let’s say you just do not like the orange and gold ones but want all of your desktop backgrounds to have a cooler hue. Well, just leave those out of the slideshow.
- Click on the theme name in the backgrounds display area to see the boxes.
- Uncheck the boxes in the image or images you want to leave out of the desktop slide show.
- Click “save changes” to make it so.
Change Sound Effects — Some themes come with sound effect packages, and some of these packages may have one or two items you do not like. Or, you may just not want to change your Windows sounds at all.
- Click on your theme,
- Click on Sounds,
- In the pop-up window, under Sound Scheme, click to open the drop-down menu,
- Select Windows Default to return to the original Windows sound scheme,
- Click OK.
Where Do I Find More Themes?
There are a lot of places on the Internet that offer themes for Windows 8 PC users. On the first site I visited, the very first theme I clicked on to see more about it, my anti-virus software sent off an alert. I did not go to that page and decided that for this article, I will show you the themes that Microsoft has developed or chosen to include on its page for desktop personalization. There are dozens available here, all are lovely, all are expertly designed for the Windows 8 desktop, and the files are always safe.
Top 20 Windows 8 Themes
What makes one theme better or worse than another theme is always a matter of personal taste. And so, it will surprise no one who knows me or that has read many of my posts here that in my humble opinion, the best theme Windows offers for Windows 8 comes from NASA, and since there are two, it is a tie.
1. NASA Hidden Universe has fourteen images from the Spitzer telescope.
2. NASA Spacescapes contains fourteen images from various space missions.
Both NASA themes use the Windows default sound effect group and keep your Windows color theme to the basics. Also, the NASA themes do not set a screensaver for you.
After the NASA themes, the Community Showcase offerings are an excellent choice, especially if you want your slideshow to have lots of images in it.
3. Everyday Art has 20 background images ranging from ducks in a row on a pond to snow covered mountain peaks, clotheslines to saxophones, and old cars to ferris wheels. Each one is almost guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Just like the NASA themes, no change is made to your sound, colors are basic, and there is no screen saver.
4. Community Showcase Aqua 4 has 21 photos in its slide show capturing waterfalls, oceans, ponds, sunsets, frozen fields, and more. It features the Seashores sound effect set, its color is pale blue, and there is no screen saver.
5. In Community Showcase Rural Landscapes, farmhouses, woodlands, fields, and plains make up the 20-image slide show. This theme adds no screen saver, uses the default sound set, and basic white is its color.
Pictures of places and things we love and enjoy are common theme picks. These stand-alone themes may appeal to you.
6. Fresh Fruit offers a refreshing vista to your background with a slide show full of lemons, limes, star fruit, apples, and everybody’s favorite, strawberries.
7. Beauty of Britain by Sean Byrne will sate the appetite of most Anglophiles. Featuring both cityscapes and rural themes, the slide show contains thirteen images in all. There is also a Beauty of Britain 2 with thirteen more wallpapers of Great Britain’s unique landscapes.
8. Rainbows has 18 colorful, hope inspiring scenes of that beautiful band of promise set in the skies and reflected throughout nature in snow and in water, against the backdrop of mountains or in caves and a dozen more.
9. Plants vs. Zombies has 20 scenes from the popular game in its desktop slide show plus custom sound effects.
10. Sardinian Shores features a slide show with thirteen seaside scenes and uses the seashore sound effects kit.
Maybe you like to change your desktop theme with the seasons. Here are five fun packages for you.
11. Fireworks are good throughout the year, for any celebration, but mostly we think of them at New Year’s and Independence Day. This theme has eleven backgrounds in the slide show and a light red color for Windows but don’t worry, the sound kid is Windows default so you won’t frighten the pets with bangs and booms.
12. Decorated Eggs is a spring or Easter theme that displays the title objects in the home and in nature alongside ducklings or safe in a nest. It is a nice variety of images. This theme sets your screen saver to Bubbles, which is nice, and uses standard colors and sound effects.
13. Eerie Autumn comes with eight subdued yet effective scary background images plus a fun sound effects package. Your desktop mail notification will arrive with a couple of cold piano notes and a ghostly whir, while suspenseful organ cords announce the removal of your flash drive.
14. Snowman brings eight cheery scenes of winter with snowmen skiing, sunbathing, and making snow angels.
15. Decking the Halls decks your desktop with glitter and joy as the slide show moves through twelve backgrounds of Christmas joy.
The last category of favorites contains the panoramic views suitable for single or dual monitor set ups.
16. Panoramic Beaches brings nine lovely sand coasts to your desktop. Sure to put you in the mood for summer, this theme also features the Seashores sound effect set and sets your screen savor to Bubbles.
17. Panoramic Deserts treats you to thirteen breathtaking vistas from sunrise to sunset, and from mountain to plateau.
18. Panoramas of NYC by Chad Weisser presents eighteen stark black and white pictures of the Big Apple.
19. Panoramas of NZ by Josh Robinson had a slide show with 20 images of New Zealand for those missing the lovely land or for the Hobbit and Lord of the Ring fan.
20. Panoramas of Europe features landscapes from Norway, Austria, Spain, and all across the continent.
Installing and customizing desktop themes might seem like a complex task at first, but by the time you have downloaded a few from this top 20 list, you will be a pro at it. And don’t forget, there are plenty of other themes at the Microsoft page where you found those on this list. Go ahead and get as many as you want so you have a wallpaper slide show for every mood and season. Thanks for reading!