It’s that time of the year — no matter what holiday you celebrate, the decorations are going up and the mood is becoming festive. But, those decorations inside and outside of your home aren’t the only ones you have at your disposal. Your computer may seem like a tool or a toy, depending on your use, but it is also a showcase for your moods, passions and celebrations. Yes, you can “decorate” your PC every bit as well as your home. And, why not? You probably see quite a bit of it anyway.
You are probably familiar with concepts like “wallpaper” and “themes”, and we will cover those as well, but there are other areas that can be customized, such as your web browser. However, we will start with the more obvious — wallpapers and themes.
Picture: Festive Tree
The concept of wallpapers has been around in Windows for a long time. Microsoft even encourages them, going as far as to offer it’s own through the company’s Personalization Gallery. From there you can browse the thousands of available background images, which are broken down by category, including one called “Holidays and Seasons“. You will have to wade through wallpapers for other seasons and holidays, but if you don’t want to deal with that then you can always do a keyword search.
Wallpapers work just as well in pretty much any version of Windows that you may be using — although hopefully none of you are running anything older than Windows XP, and preferably a newer version.
Other Sources for Wallpapers
Windows7Themes.net -The site may be called “themes”, but it also has a number of wallpapers. Each image does contain the site’s logo at the bottom right side, but it’s pretty unobtrusive, so it should not be a concern.
Flickr – Most photos uploaded to Flickr are under a creative commons license. That means that, in most (not all) cases, you can use the image for your desktop background.
WallpaperStop – This is a reputable site where you can browse by category or search for a particular image by keyword.
Pictured: Holiday Lights Theme
Back to Microsoft’s own Personalization Gallery now. The Redmond, Washington software giant doesn’t just provide simple wallpapers for it’s Windows operating system. There are also thousands of free themes — collections of images that change periodically to keep your desktop fresh. Once again, there is a category for “Holidays and Seasons”.
Windows themes work in both Windows 7 (except Starter) and Windows 8, although the format is somewhat different.
Other Sources for Themes
Windows7Themes.net – Once again, we return here. Once again I will also tell you that you will have to deal with a tiny logo at the bottom right of you screen. However, they have some really cool themes so it’s worth the trade off to me.
C|net – The giant tech site operates the Download.com service which also houses a number of Windows themes. They seem to favor themes that are “3D”, but you will also find more traditional themes as well.
Google Chrome Themes
Pictured: Christmas Lights Theme
If Google’s Chrome is your web browser of choice then you probably already know that you can add a “theme” to the “New Tab” page. The themes can be found in the Google Chrome Web Store. The drawback here is that themes are not categorized — you will need to search by keyword or simply wade in, browsing through the thousands of images that are available.
Other Sources for Chrome Themes
You can easily make your own. Head back to the Chrome Web Store, but this time look for an extension called My Chrome Theme. It is fairly simple to take an image of your own and turn it into your very own Chrome theme, just follow these instructions. Once completed, you can not only use the theme in your own browser, but also share it with friends or with the general public.
ChromeThemes – If you didn’t find what you were looking for in the Chrome Web Store and you don’t care to make your own, then head over here for a large selection that can browsed and searched.
Pictured: Lovely Red Amaryllis
If you aren’t familiar with Personas then let me give a brief description, since the name does little to help. Personas lay an image over the toolbars area at the top of your Firefox web browser. There are thousands of Personas available from Mozilla’s Get Personas web site. Here you can browse and search among those thousands of Personas and even find ones that are animated.
Other Sources for Firefox Personas
For this, you are pretty much stuck using the Mozilla web site listed above. There really are not any other locations to fins these things, but that’s okay because Mozilla has countless ones available.
Windows and web browsers are by no means the only things that can be customized. In fact, many apps, such as Windows Media Player, offer custom “skins”. However, in most of those cases you will be hard pressed to find one that could be considered a “holiday theme”.
These are just a few of the ways you can alter your computer — there are also sound effect and custom icons that you can download from countless web sites. Be cautious with all of these though, because malware tends to lurk within such sites. I would recommend sticking to the above mentioned sites for themes and wallpaper. When you wonder off the path then you are on your own so be very careful and use good security software.