Windows 7 Themes and Natural Language Searching from the Start Menu

If you haven’t already upgraded to Windows 7, I highly suggest you do so.  One of the most clearly absent features from Windows Vista was lack of Themes, which were available in Windows XP.  You could always change your window color, sounds, fonts, etc. in Vista but there was no method for easily packaging and distributing your customizations so that you could share them with others (or to simply use for yourself later on).  Windows 7 re-instates the feature from XP and improves it so that it’s easy to create your own themes and also package and share them yourself without using third-party utilities.  I took the liberty to create a simple autumn inspired theme complete with 14 unique autumn backgrounds (hi-res) and a matching window color.

Autumn Bliss Windows 7 Theme

Since we’re in the Autumn season, I recently came to the conclusion that I wanted a nice Autumn toned theme for my computer, but noticed there were no such themes available from the current stock of Windows 7 themes.  So I did a Google search for “Autumn Wallpapers” on the Internet and found a bunch from a royalty-free desktop wallpaper site.  I then customized my backgrounds to show all the autumn pics I downloaded, set my window color to a nice burnt orange, saved my changes as a new theme, then saved the theme for sharing.

If you’d like to use this theme:  click the image below, then click on the Download link or the blank page icon, in the new window that opens.  Wait for it to download (it’s rather large at 13.7 MB), then open the downloaded file.  The theme will be applied immediately and will change your window color and backgrounds (that’s right I said backgroundzzzs, with an ‘s’).  New in Windows 7 is the built-in ability to have your desktop background cycle through multiple pictures.  For more information on the background cycle feature, read the next section.  If you’d like to know how to create your own themes, go to Customize a Theme to learn how (Warning:  it’s very easy).  If you want to see all the other cool personalization things you can get for Windows 7 (and Vista), go here:  Personalization Gallery

Get the Autumn Bliss theme pack

The Background Cycle Feature and Searching from the Start Menu on Windows 7

New in Windows 7 (and a built-in feature that’s been missing and long overdo in every prior Windows version) is the ability to cycle your background (or wallpaper).  When you select what background you want in Windows 7 you can now check a box next to multiple pictures that you’d like to be displayed.  Your desktop background will cycle through all the pictures you have selected.  You can also specify how long before the next background is cycled and also choose to shuffle the order in which the images are cycled through.

All this functionality is available by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting “Personalize” or by opening the Start menu and typing “change background” or “change wallpaper”, this “natural language” approach works really well in Windows 7 and you can use it to discover just about anything you want to do with your computer.  If you’ve ever had an idea of something you wanted to change, customize or find on your computer but didn’t quite know where to go to do it or how to find it, this search functionality built into the Start menu will prove extremely useful to you.  Give it a try…

 

Notice as you start typing, the list of options constantly changes to reflect updated search results that match what you’ve typed so far.  In this case, I don’t even have to finish typing “change background” before the list shows the option I’m looking for.

“Change desktop background” is automatically highlighted for you and all you have to do is hit ENTER (or click it if you want to do it the hard way) and you will be taken to the window that allows you to change your background.

 

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About Aaron

Avid computer software programmer and all around digital designer. I live for the challenge and excitement of computers and bending them to my will. Computers are a canvas for creating fantastic pieces of art that millions of people can interact with worldwide. That alone is reason enough to be a digital designer.
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