Personalizing Your Start Screen

Learn about the Windows 8 personalization features on your computer in this free lesson so your Start screen looks how you want.

Personalizing your Start screen

Screenshot of Windows 8Personalizing the Start screen

You'll probably spend a lot of time on your Start screen, so you may want to personalize it so that it suits your taste. In this lesson, we'll show you several different ways to personalize it, including changing the background image and color, rearranging apps, pinning apps, and creating app groups.

To change your Start screen background:

  1. Hover the mouse in the lower-right corner to open the Charms bar, and then select the Settings charm.
    Screenshot of Windows 8Selecting the Settings charm
  2. Click Personalize.
    Screenshot of Windows 8Clicking Personalize
  3. Select the desired background image and color scheme.
    Screenshot of Windows 8Changing the Start screen background

To change your lock screen picture:

  1. Hover the mouse in the lower-right corner to open the Charms bar, and then select the Settings charm.
  2. Click Change PC settings.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Clicking Change PC settings
  3. Select Lock screen near the top of the screen.
    Screenshot of Windows 8Clicking Lock Screen
  4. Select the desired picture from the list of thumbnails. Alternatively, you can click Browse to select one of your own pictures.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Selecting a lock screen picture

The lock screen will appear whenever your computer is locked, which happens automatically after a few minutes of inactivity. You can also lock your computer by clicking your account name and selecting Lock.

Screenshot of Windows 8Locking the computer

To change your account picture:

  1. Hover the mouse in the lower-right corner to open the Charms bar, and then select the Settings charm.
  2. Click Change PC settings, and then select Account picture.
  3. Click Browse.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Changing the account picture
  4. A list of folders will appear. Select the desired photo on your computer, or click the drop-down arrow at the top of the screen to select a different location. In our example, we'll add a photo from our OneDrive.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Navigating to the desired folder
  5. When you have selected a photo, click Choose image.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Selecting an image

If your computer or tablet has a built-in camera, you can click Camera to take a picture of yourself.

Screenshot of Windows 8Clicking the Camera button

Customizing your Start screen apps

If you don't like the way your apps are arranged on the Start screen, you can rearrange them by moving them wherever you want. You may also find that the animated live tiles are too distracting, and you can easily turn them off so they will display a plain background with no animation.

To move an app:

  1. Click, hold, and drag the app to the desired location.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Moving an app
  2. Release the mouse. The app will move to the new location.


    Screenshot of Windows 8The app in its new location

To turn a live tile off:

  1. Right-click the app you want to change.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Right-clicking a live tile
  2. A toolbar will appear at the bottom of the screen. Click Turn live tile off, and the tile will change to a plain background.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Turning a live tile off

Pinning apps to the Start screen

By default, the Start screen doesn't show all of the apps on your computer. However, it's easy to pin your favorite apps to the Start screen so you can open them quickly.

To pin an app to the Start screen:

  1. Click the arrow in the bottom-left corner of the Start screen to view all of the apps installed on your computer.
    Screenshot of Windows 8Going to All Apps
  2. Locate and right-click the desired app.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Right-clicking an app
  3. At the bottom of the screen, click Pin to Start.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Pinning an app to the Start screen
  4. Click the lower-left corner to return to the Start screen. Your app will now appear on the Start screen.


    Screenshot of Windows 8The pinned app

To unpin an app from the Start screen:

  1. From the Start screen, right-click the desired app.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Right-clicking an app
  2. At the bottom of the screen, click Unpin from Start. The app will disappear from the Start screen.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Unpinning an app from the Start screen

Creating app groups

To further organize your apps, you can put related apps into groups. You can also name your groups, and each group will display its name at the top.

To create a new app group:

  1. Click, hold, and drag an app to the right until it is on an empty area of the Start screen.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Moving an app
  2. Release the mouse. The app will now be in its own app group, and you should see a space between the new group and the other groups. This space helps to visually separate the different groups.


    Screenshot of Windows 8The new app group
  3. You can now move more apps into the new app group.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Adding apps to the new group

To name an app group:

  1. Right-click any app on the Start screen, and then click Name group above the desired app group.


    Screenshot of Windows 8Clicking Name Group
  2. Type the desired name. Shorter names usually work best, so try to use a single word if possible. When you're done, press Enter.
    Screenshot of Windows 8The new group name
  3. Click anywhere on the Start screen to return to the normal view. The new name will appear above the app group.