Personalizing your Windows 7 PC, flying monkeys optional

There's no place like home—where have I heard that before? Whether you live and work in Kansas or elsewhere, you've likely set up your home to reflect your own tastes and lifestyle. Wouldn't it be great to experience that same, comfortable-as-an-old-pair-of-ruby-slippers feeling every time you fire up your PC? Sure it would.

So come along! We're off to see how you can personalize your PC with Windows 7. Just close your eyes, tap your feet together and repeat after me: There's no place like...

Gee, this looks nothing like Kansas. Want a rapid PC desktop makeover? Windows 7 comes with a nice selection of pre-configured themes, each featuring a decorator-worthy combination of Desktop Background, Window Color, Sound Library, and Screen Saver. You can choose from any of seven highly appealing Aero themes, sharpen your vision with four High Contrast themes, or speed up a sluggish system by choosing Windows 7 Basic. Navigate to Control Panel: Appearance and Personalization: Change the theme to make your choice.

Select a theme

Is that Toto I hear barking? Windows 7 comes with a long list of sounds that play when various things happen on your PC, and you can customize which sound plays when a given event occurs. There are also "themes" of sounds, which are called schemes. To swap out an individual sound, change to a new scheme, or even create and save your own unique scheme, go to Control Panel: Appearance and Personalization: Personalization: Change sound effects.

How about a yellow-brick desktop? You can set your desktop background to just about any image stored on your computer. Just go to Control Panel: Appearance and Personalization: Desktop Background, and choose a solid color, popular photo, or any image from your hard drive. You can even create a desktop slide show.

Choose your desktop background

Pay no attention to that PC of yours for a while and you may find yourself in an alternate universe of sorts—that is, your screensaver will appear. Want to display lions, tigers, and bears on your monitor when you're occupied elsewhere? Perhaps as a slideshow, even? Oh my. Learn how to set it up.

Make a screensaver slideshow

Don't forget the extras and props. Why not round out your personalized PC with a few gadgets? These desktop tools are handy for telling the time, checking your PC's performance, and even predicting weather (watch for tornados!). You can find an extensive gallery of gadgets—and more themes and backgrounds—at theWindows 7 Personalization Gallery.

There—our journey has ended. Have fun populating your PC universe with rainbows, Emerald cities, flying monkeys, or whatever wizardry you care for.