Microsoft's latest version of its operating system, Windows 8, has more personalization options than any predecessor. Backgrounds, themes, colors, start screen, apps, picture passwords and more can all be customized.
Here's how to get the best personalization features out of Windows 8.
Step 1: Change Themes
Choose a new theme by opening the Search charm and typing "personalization." Then click on the Settings tab.
Click Change the Theme to enter the control panel's Appearance & Personalization area. Then choose a theme -- for example, click on the Earth default theme and then the Desktop Background chooser.
Select a background and you'll see the theme with background change. Play around with these defaults until you obtain a combination that you like.
Click on Get More Themes Online to be redirected to a Web page with downloadable themes. Choose one and then select Download and follow the prompts.
Tip: The personalization search that you performed using the Search charm will also provide links to areas where you can make other choices, such as screen saver or color of the taskbar and window borders.
Step 2: Customize the Start Page
Customize the Start page by placing the mouse over a tile you'd like to move and then left-clicking. Drag the tile to a new location on the Start page.
Create tiles for things you do regularly -- like visit particular Web pages -- by opening Internet Explorer and browsing to the page you regularly view.
Click on the Settings icon in the top right corner of Internet Explorer and choose Add Site to Start Screen. Return to Start, and you'll see a tile labeled with the Web page title. Next time, click on that tile to launch the Web page you chose, and bypass the Internet Explorer home page.
Step 3: Pin Apps
Pin non-Windows Store apps, formerly called "programs," to the Start page by opening Desktop and right-clicking an app's icon. Choose Pin to Start, and a Start page tile will be created.
Folders can be pinned using the same procedure. Access the folder using File Explorer.
Tip: Use Microsoft's Search Charm -- the magnifying glass icon that appears when you place your mouse pointer in the bottom right corner of the screen -- to find items that are hidden in this version of Windows, such as File Explorer.
Step 4: Make a Picture Password
Create a picture password rather than regular password. Picture passwords let you choose a picture and then draw gestures on it to sign in.
Open the Settings charm. This charm is adjacent to the Search charm you used in earlier steps. Select Change PC Settings and then click Users and Create Picture Password. Log in again, like you do when you turn on the computer, and then select Choose Picture on the following screen.
The image will load. Draw three gestures on the image -- for example, three circles around objects in the picture -- remembering the order and gesture. Then repeat and follow the prompts. Now when you sign in, you'll use your gestures rather than a textual password. This works with touch or mouse.
Step 5: Adjust Some Startup Settings
Open the Settings charm and choose Change PC Settings again. Then select Personalize.
Choose a lock screen image by clicking on a preferred image.
Click on an icon labeled with a plus symbol on the same page -- for example, mail -- and choose apps to run in the background while the screen is locked.
Select the Start Screen tab in the same area to select colors and patterns for the start page.
Click on the Account Picture tab to choose an account picture. If your PC includes a rear-facing camera -- of the kind used for video conferencing -- press the Camera button to make an account picture on the spot.
Go ahead and personalize your windows 8 device- make it specially yours!