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How to use themes to personalize the desktop on Windows 11

Windows 11 themes
Windows 11 themes (Image credit: Windows Central )

On Windows 11, themes are a quick and easy way to refresh the appearance of your desktop. A theme is a package that contains multiple background images, accent color, mouse pointer customizations, and in some cases, sounds.

You get six themes with different wallpapers and settings by default, including Windows (light), Windows (dark), Glow, Sunrise, and Flow. However, you can download many more from the Microsoft Store. A lot of them are free, and some are paid.

When you apply a new theme, the desktop wallpaper will rotate periodically depending on the images available. The accent color will usually match the background images' primary color, and the system color mode will be set according to the theme specifications.

In this Windows 11 guide, we will walk you through the steps to change themes and the steps to switch contrast themes on your computer.

How to change themes on Windows 11

To change the desktop theme on Windows 11, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Personalization.
  3. Click the Themes page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Current theme" setting, select one of the available themes.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Once you complete the steps, the theme will apply, and images will rotate depending on the configuration.

How to change themes settings on Windows 11

If the images rotate quickly or you don't like the accent color or color mode, you can adjust the settings on the "Personalization" page.

To adjust the settings of a theme, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Personalization.
  3. Click the Background page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Use the "Change picture every" drop-down menu to select how often the images should rotate in the background.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Turn on the Shuffle the picture folder toggle switch.
  2. Click on Personalization.
  3. Click the Colors page on the right side.
  4. Use the "Choose your mode" drop-down menu to switch to the Light or Dark color mode.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Use the "Accent color" drop-down menu to select the accent color mode.
    • Manual — allows you to specify the accent color manually.
    • Automatic — the system applies an accent color based on the primary color of the wallpaper.

After you complete the steps, the new settings apply to the system. You can use our guide to learn about changing the look and feel of Windows 11.

How to download themes on Windows 11

To get new themes for your Windows 11 desktop, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Personalization.
  3. Click the Themes page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Current theme" setting, click the Browse themes button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Select the Windows 11 theme from the Microsoft Store.
  2. Click the Get (or Install) button.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Open button.
  2. Select the newly installed theme to apply it.

Once you complete the steps, the newly downloaded theme will be reflected on the desktop and across the experience.

How to change contrast themes on Windows 11

As part of the accessibility experience, Windows 11 also offer four different high contrast themes. Although these themes are reserved for individuals with low vision, anyone can use these themes.

To switch to one of the contrast themes, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Accessibility.
  3. Click the Contrast themes page on the right side.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Under the "Contrast themes" setting, select one of the available themes, including:
    • Aquatic.
    • Desert.
    • Dusk.
    • Night sky.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. (Optional) Use the Left Alt key + Left Shift key + Print screen keyboard shortcut to enable or disable the contrast theme.

After you complete the steps, the Windows experience will switch to the high contrast mode.

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10 and Windows 11, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.