How to personalize your PC

What makes your house your home? Is it the furniture? The art? A few favorite collectibles arranged on the shelves? Your PC doesn’t have to be any different. If you’re new to Windows 10, we’ll show you how to personalize your PC to make it feel, well, yours.

From the moment you first power on your PC, you’ll be asked to choose how to manage your privacy and security. But once you complete that short process, the fun begins: you’ll be able to select backgrounds, configure your Start menu, and select apps and shortcuts. Think of this story as a complement to our previous tutorial on how to set up your new PC efficiently and effectively. This is the fun stuff.

The Windows 10 Out of the Box Experience

Any time you buy a new PC, you’re almost certainly going to walk through what Microsoft calls the “Out of the Box Experience,” or OOBE. While the OOBE is simply a series of setup screens narrated by the voice of Cortana, Jen Taylor, they may differ a bit from PC to PC, and be affected by your choices. Generally, you’ll be able to handle most questions without any hand-holding; you’ll be asked for your preferred language and keyboard layout, to connect to Wi-Fi, and so on.

Windows 10 personalization oobe name Mark Hachman / IDG

Personalization begins with entering your name.

Your major choices boil down to these: whether to enter or create a Microsoft password, whether to enable Cortana, and choosing your privacy settings. Entering (or creating) a Microsoft account allows your preferences to “follow” you from PC to PC, create a OneDrive cloud-storage account, and more. Creating an account is recommended, though you can use a local account and password instead.

Windows 10 personalization oobe windows hello Mark Hachman / IDG

If Windows Hello is enabled on your PC, you’ll have a chance to set it up in the OOBE. Do so! It takes literally just a few seconds.

Likewise, it’s up to you whether you want to enable Cortana, though you’ll still find the icon lurking about the search box on your desktop when setup is completed. You’re free to fiddle with the privacy settings, though you also have the option to change these within Windows proper. We’ll talk about these a bit more later.

Windows 10 personalization oobe privacy Mark Hachman / IDG

Though you’re free to configure these privacy settings as you see fit, you can also take the time to adjust them later.

After a few minutes the setup process will complete, and you’ll see the Windows 10 desktop.

Begin personalizing your PC with Themes

Assuming you’ve never logged in with a Microsoft account, you’ll see the default desktop wallpaper. It’s time to start making this PC yours! And the easiest way to do this is to right-click anywhere on the desktop, and then select Personalize.

Windows 10 personalize shortcut Mark Hachman / IDG

Right-click the desktop, click Personalize, and we’re off!

Doing so will open up the Windows 10 Settings menu, specifically Settings > Personalization > Background. You’ll see a list of background pictures to choose from, as well as an example of how it will look. If that’s good enough for you, fine. But it shouldn’t be—there’s so much more! And for that, navigate the menu options on the left-hand rail all the way down to Themes

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