The desktop background that arrives installed on your new computer likely isn’t very exciting. It might just be an abstract design with a branded logo or a wash of a single color. If you want to inject some personality into your computer, put down your palette and paint brushes because there’s no need for Bob Ross here. You can completely change the look and feel of your computer with a simple desktop background change.
Switch up your wallpaper to match the decor of your home office or choose a landscape photograph depicting a bucket-list locale you’d like to visit.
Color and your surroundings have the potential to affect your mood as well as the perception of your environment. If you work in an office using a computer most or all of the day, it makes sense to spend a little time picking a background that makes you feel calm and relaxed. Below, we’ll delve into the subtle effects different hues can have on your mental state, how to choose a desktop background, where to get the best wallpapers, and how to install your perfect background image.
A brief explanation of color psychology
Color psychology is the study of colors and its influence on human behavior. Advertisers are well-aware of color’s effects and leverage their impact by targeting consumers with particular hues and tones. For example, many fast food companies rely on the colors red and yellow which are associated with activity, excitement, and friendliness .
And advertisers aren’t wrong by focusing their attention on colors, about 62-90% of a customer’s buying decisions are based on color alone . With that said, there aren’t many studies that cement particular colors’ meanings beyond some general associations that seem to be universal such as red and black being tied to anger. People’s perception of color is influenced by a range of factors that include age, culture, and gender.
One color association you’re likely familiar with if you’re American is one that starts early on in your life: blue for boys and pink for girls. There is no evidence that girls have a special, ingrained attraction to the color pink but the influence of marketing and cultural expectations begin to impact their decision-making very early on.
In fact, one study with children aged seven months old to five years old offered eight pairs of items, one colored pink, and told to choose an object. By two and a half years old, girls tended to choose the only pink item while boys began to noticeably avoid the color .
Besides marketing and advertising, color is also believed to influence mood and perception. A common interior design trick to make a small space feel bigger is to paint the room a light color to visually open the space . Light colors, like shades of white, mimic the effect of a bright light while darker shades can make a large space feel cozier.
In addition, colors have also been used to more unusual ends. Certain prisons have painted jail cells entirely pink to attempt to create a calming effect for aggressive inmates in Switzerland as well as drunk tanks in the US . In Japan, blue lights were installed in train stations in an attempt to reduce the number of suicides . While the actual effects of these actions remain hard to discern and measure, there is evidence suggesting these colors do influence behavior - by how much remains the unanswered question.
The controversial study of evolutionary psychology has suggested that there is an ingrained preference for colors like green and blue because it subconsciously reminds us of habitats that were necessary for our survival: lush green vegetation and blue waters .
How can I use color psychology to my advantage when I’m picking my desktop background?
You don’t have to be a scientist to take advantage of color psychology when choosing a fun seasonal desktop background. If you work in a high-stress environment and need to meet strict deadlines, it might interest you to choose a calming background comprised of calming, cool colors like green, blue, and purple.
On the other hand, if you work from home in a more relaxed atmosphere, you might want a more stimulating desktop background that helps keep you motivated. Reds, yellows, and oranges make excellent choices for these purposes.
You can also choose backgrounds based on the current season to add a fun twist to your office environment.
Spring desktop backgrounds
Flowers are one of the main draws of the spring season, so celebrate with springtime desktop backgrounds showcasing beautiful wildflower blooms. Do you have a favorite flower? Search for a macro photo of bluebonnets, poppies, or peonies to brighten up your workspace every time you log on to your computer.
You can also opt for a less flowery approach to the vernal equinox with photos showcasing lots of green and new growth. Maybe a photo of the lush Oregon coast or rolling green hills, for example.
Or, if you want something simple, go for a solid color such as emerald green to keep your background distraction-free.
Summer desktop backgrounds
The beach is calling, the temperatures are heating up, and by the time 5 o’clock rolls around, you’ve already donned your flip flops to prepare for soaking up those long hours of sunlight. Beach photos, lake photos, or any of your ideal vacation spots; these kinds of images may help boost your morale when you’re dealing with last-minute project requests from clients or other stresses that arise. Who says you can’t daydream in between emails and assignments?
Find images of your bucket list destinations like Tahiti, Santorini Island in Greece, or Morocco so you can dream up the perfect way to spend all of that PTO you’ve been saving. While this won’t necessarily make your day go by faster, it will make it a little bit more enjoyable. And when you’re sitting in front of a computer, it’s all about those small joys that keep you motivated and focused like beautiful summer desktop backgrounds.
Best fall desktop backgrounds
Everybody knows that crisp feeling in the air, there’s no other season quite like autumn. Warm mulled cider, crunchy fallen leaves in an earthy spectrum of bright orange, red, and yellow - the colors of fall make for a picture-perfect desktop background.
Consider choosing a fall scene that displays the beautiful fall foliage of areas in the Northeast like Massachusetts. Or, go for a macro photograph of a single leaf. If those ideas don’t inspire you, consider simply integrating a solid fall color instead.
Best winter desktop backgrounds
As the temperature drops, you might feel compelled to switch up your desktop background to match the wintry scenes outside. If you celebrate a particular holiday, you could change up your desktop background to a holiday scene. Maybe a cozy scene around a yule log and Christmas tree, for example.
Or, you could update your display to a beautiful outdoor winter scene. Do you have a favorite location you spend your winter each year? Maybe Mammoth in California or Breckenridge in Colorado are your typical haunts. Find background-worthy images of these destinations so every time you power on, you’ll be reminded of happy winter memories.
If you love wildlife, maybe find a high-quality picture of an arctic fox pup or leopard seal. Winter desktop backgrounds can also be more simple and clean like a snowflake pattern or a wash of blue and white.
5 best desktop background sites
Ready to look for the perfect wallpaper? We’ve gathered the best desktop background sites where you can find images that will inspire you and keep you focused on the task at hand.
is a great place to find beautiful, free photos. It’s organized by categories that include architecture, animals, film, textures, and photographs with images provided by photographers and artists. You can join for free and explore the array of images available .
2. Social Wallpapering
This user-created collection of backgrounds
is sorted by quality according to user votes. There’s a large selection of images so you have plenty of options to choose from. In addition, the site is constantly updated with submissions so there’s always a new, exciting background available. You can search for images by category, upload your own photographs, or create an account to curate your own collection of wallpapers .
3. DeviantArt Wallpaper
With an infinite scroll option, you can keep searching for that perfect background
uninterrupted. There is a large, forum-based community and the database of available images is equally large. After you sign up with a free account, you have tons of filters at your disposal to find the perfect wallpaper. For example, you can browse by tags or choose by resolution .
5. Simple Desktops
If you’re a minimalist, Marie Kondo type, you might be more interested in a desktop site like Simple Desktops
. If you work with images or other heavily-detailed visuals, you may prefer to have a desktop background image that allows your eyes to rest. The backgrounds on this site feature hand-curated, simple designs with interesting iconography in limited color palettes .
Desktop background tips and tricks for Windows PCs
How to change your desktop background in Windows 10
So, you’ve got your perfect background image, now what? To customize your Windows 10 background, follow the steps below so you can enjoy a completely new view .
1. Click on the Windows icon located in the left, lower portion of your screen by the search bar.
2. Press Settings.
3. Click the Personalization option.
4. Navigate to Background. The background page should pop up to show you a preview of your background image.
5. To switch between pre-installed photos, solid colors, or a slideshow of different images, press the box right under Background in the pop-up box.
6. Under the Choose your picture option, click one of the options or click Browse to find a suitable image for your computer.
7. If you don’t like how the photo appears on your background, you can click on the box underneath Choose a fit. This will allow you to change the image with fill, fit, stretch, tile, or center options for your background.
Tips for improving your desktop background
As you search for the perfect desktop wallpaper that matches your personality, decor, or the current season, you’ll want to keep a few tips in mind. You might think you’ve discovered the perfect background image but if it isn’t the right number of pixels or the right aspect ratio for a 4k monitor
, your wallpaper will end up looking pixelated and distorted.
Check the screen resolution
and aspect ratio in your PC’s settings so you can make sure you’re downloading images that will work with your particular monitor size and resolution.
Best desktop backgrounds and colors for you
Customizing your PC is a fun way to make your device feel like it’s a reflection of your personality. Keep in mind basic tenets of color psychology when you’re deciding on the right wallpaper. For example, if you want a calmer feel, choose cool colors like blue or purple. If you want a hue that’s more dynamic, opt for warmer colors.
You can also base your choice on seasonal changes. Whether you’re looking for summer desktop backgrounds or ones that fit a winter aesthetic, you can find the perfect wallpaper for you by following the tips in this article.
About the Author: Michelle Wilson is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Michelle is a content creation specialist writing for a variety of industries, including tech trends and media news.