Customizing the Desktop

Learn about Windows 98 desktop customization in this free lesson.

Introduction

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Customize the computer screen with a screen saver and wallpaper
  • Become familiar with the Active Desktop

Screen Savers and wallpaper

In the previous lesson, you learned that settings allow you to change the settings of your taskbar, printer, and time and date. They also allow you to customize the look of your computer screen with the Active Desktop, screensavers, and wallpaper.

Wallpaper is the background on your desktop. A screensaver allows the screen to display an animated picture after a specified period of time.


Cloud Wallpaper on Desktop

Screensavers

In the early days of computing, screensavers helped prevent images from being burned into the screen. Now, they entertain us and enhance our work or home environment.

Windows comes with several built-in screensavers. You can select one and activate a password protection feature that lets you protect computer documents from roaming eyes.

To change your screensaver settings:

  • Click Start. Start button
  • Choose SettingsactionActive Desktopaction Customize my Desktop.
  • The Display Properties box appears with several options.
  • Click the Screen Saver tab.
  • It's fun to click through the Screen Saver list and view each one on the small monitor in the dialog box. You can also view each option on your computer screen by clicking preview. Press any key on your keyboard to return to the dialog box.
  • After previewing the various options, choose the option you want to appear on your computer screen.
  • Click OK.

Display Properties dialog box with Screen Saver tab displayed

Wallpaper

Windows comes with built-in wallpaper to help you decorate your desktop. While screensavers are animated pictures, wallpaper simply sits on your desktop as background.

To change your wallpaper settings:

  • Click Start. Start button
  • Choose SettingsactionActive DesktopactionCustomize my Desktop.
  • Click the Background tab.

Preview each wallpaper sample on the small screen in the dialog box to see how it might look on your desktop.

  • Choose the option you want.
  • Choose center, tile, or stretch. (If you choose (None) as your wallpaper, there is no need to center, tile, or stretch.)
  • Click OK.

Display Properties dialog box with Background tab displayed

Screensaver and wallpaper shortcut

Windows 98 also allows you to set your screensaver or wallpaper using a shortcut.

To quickly change your wallpaper or screensaver settings:

  • Right-click the desktop.
  • A pop-up menu appears.
  • Choose Properties.
  • Click the Screen Saver tab or Wallpaper tab.
  • Choose the option you want on your computer screen.

Pop up menu with Properties selected

The Active Desktop

The Active Desktop allows you to customize your desktop, switch between files, launch programs, and keep up with the lastest sports, news, weather, and more by integrating the Web and your desktop. We will only explore one aspect of the Active Desktop in this lesson: the single-click option.

When the Active Desktop option is activated, you can single-click an icon to open a program or document. The icons are underlined like links on a webpage.


My Documents icon

Important PointWhen the Active Desktop is on, the mouse pointer becomes an upward-pointing hand when you move it over an icon on the desktop.


My Documents on the Active Desktop

The single-click option

If you're tired of double-clicking on files, Windows 98 allows you to set your machine to respond to single clicks.

To set your computer to open files with a single click:

  • Right-click an empty part of the desktop. When the pop-up menu appears, choose Active Desktopaction Customize my Desktop.
  • When the Display Properties dialog box appears, click Folder Options.
  • When the dialog box appears asking Would you like to save and close the Display Properties and view the Folder Options instead?, click Yes.
  • When the Folder Options dialog box appears, click inside the small circle next to Web Style. Click OK.
  • You can now single-click icons, folders, and applications to open them.

Important PointKeep in mind that if you're accustomed to double-clicking, it may take you a while to get used to single-clicking.


Web Style My Documents icon

Important PointIf you decide you don't want to single-click on documents or programs to open them, you can return to double-clicking.

To undo the single-click option:

  • Right-click an empty part of the desktop. When the pop-up menu appears, choose Active Desktopaction Customize my Desktop.
  • When the Display Properties dialog box appears, click Folder Options.
  • When the dialog box appears asking Would you like to save and close the Display Properties and view the Folder Options instead?, click Yes.
  • When the Folder Options dialog box appears, click inside the small circle next to Classic Style.
  • Click OK.


Classic Style My Documents icon

<!!-- CHALLENGE PAGE-- >

Challenge!

  • Choose wallpaper and a screensaver for your desktop.
  • Set your computer so you can click on files with a single click. If you like this option, keep it. If you don't like it, return the computer to the classic style.