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Displaying & Sharing
Your Digital Photos

Entertaining Yourself—Wallpaper or Desktop Background Managers

A wallpaper image tiled (top), centered (middle), and stretched (bottom).

If you're tired of staring at the same computer screen day after day, you can liven it up by using one of your own pictures for the screen's background, called its wallpaper or desktop background.

Almost any size image will work, but one that is roughly the same size and has the same aspect ratio as the screen works best. Once you know the screen's resolution, for example 1024 x 768, you can use your photo-editing program to crop or resize an image to the exact size. Some wallpaper manager programs do this sizing for you automatically. Some also let you use images smaller than the screen and make selections such as Center, Tile, or Stretch to specify the image's layout on the screen. How well each of these choices work depends on the size of the image.

Since personalizing a computer's wallpaper is so popular, many programs have built in this function. To assign an image as wallpaper with any of these programs, you just select a command or click a button.

Some programs take this process a step farther and let you create a slide show so the background image changes at specified intervals. This keeps you from getting bored by looking at the same image all of the time. Your images can be displayed in a specific or random order and can be changed daily, whenever you restart your computer, or at preset intervals. For example, Stardust Wallpaper ControlT is a free taskbar accessory that lets you change wallpaper with a single click, automatically changes it each time the computer restarts, or changes it according to a schedule you specify.

When choosing an image keep in mind that complex details clash with icons on the desktop. Photos with fewer details, for example fog scenes and landscapes often work best.

The Google Screensaver creates a montage of the images in any folder that you specify.

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