How to Personalize Your Windows 8 Consumer Preview Experience

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview has been out for over 24 hours at this point, and users are beginning to weigh in on their experiences. For the most part, the missing Start menu and introduction of the Metro UI have taken center stage, but some other highlights of Windows 8 can be easily missed in translation.

For example, personalization has changed quite a lot on the new OS. The lock screen, Start screen, and Aero desktop can all be arranged and set up to meet your particular needs. In fact, you can configure Windows to display quick and/or detailed information from a number of your apps while the screen itself is locked, giving you at-a-glance information without having to open your desktop and navigate to various programs.

Here are some of the areas in which desktop personalization have changed:

Lock Screen

The Lock screen in Windows 8 is very different than the ones present in previous versions of Windows. For one, you’re able to control which apps display notifications on the Lock screen which alert you to messages, calendar events, weather hazards, and any new email that you receive. It’s possible that third-party apps may also be supported by the Lock screen update feature as they become available.

To customize the background, and the app alerts, all you need to do is follow these steps.

  • Launch the Start page.
  • Open the Charms by moving your mouse to the lower-right corner and sliding up until you reach Settings.
  • Select Settings.
  • Click More PC Settings at the bottom of the Settings pane that appears on the right-hand side of the screen.
  • Under Personalize, Choose the Lock Screen tab.

Once you’re here, you should see a screen that looks like the one pictured to the right. This screen allows you to customize the picture that appears while your computer is locked. You can choose between the provided photos, or select one on your hard drive by clicking the Browse button.

Below the photo area, you’l notice Lock Screen Apps which enables you to customize which apps provide quick notifications from the Lock screen.

If you’re interested in having an app deliver more detailed information about a given alert, and security isn’t a big issue for you in that regard, you may opt to add it to the detailed status row near the bottom of the screen.

Start Screen

The Start screen is by far the most iconic and recognizable portion of Windows 8. If you’ve been keeping up with Windows news lately, there’s a good chance you’ve seen more than a few screenshots of the Start screen which has replaced the Start menu which has been a cornerstone of the Windows UI since Windows 95.

Customization options are still somewhat few, though you are able to decide on a background pattern and color. You can access these options by following the same steps you took to get to the Lock screen (mentioned above) while selecting the Start Screen option tab instead.

Here, you’re given a very simple preview window and set of designs to choose from. You can use the color slider which currently offers blue, dark grey, dark blue, purple, pink, red, brown, green, and light grey. There is no save button (another former hallmark of Windows) and changes you make are applied immediately.

You can also arrange the tiles that appear on the Start screen by left-clicking and dragging them where you want them to go. Adding more tiles is as easy as right-clicking in the Start screen, selecting All Apps, right-clicking on the app(s) you want to add and choosing Pin to Start Screen.

Aero Desktop Background

The old-school desktop is still available in the Windows 8 Consumer Preview. Changing the background and general color scheme of this desktop is very similar to the way it appeared before.

You can change the desktop background by right-clicking anywhere on the existing background within the Aero desktop and selecting Personalize.

Here, you can select a theme which changes everything from your desktop background to the sounds that appear as various alerts and tones fire within Windows. You can also modify just the desktop background, window color scheme, sounds, or your screen saver via the four options at the bottom of this window.

Again, not much (if anything) has changed regarding the old desktop at this early stage of the preview. We’ll keep this article updated should any changes appear over the next few months.

If you’re wondering how you can take advantage of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, detailed instructions on where and how to install it on your PC can be found here.

40 comments On How to Personalize Your Windows 8 Consumer Preview Experience

  • Interesting to see a Mac person to illustrate how Windows 8 works.

  • Interesting to see a Mac person to illustrate how Windows 8 works.

  • i wonder since i am incapable of interpreting or performing gestures or movements either in rl or in a computer, and very happy with that btw, hating physical reality totally (except for touch with people lol), if the mouse-up-from-lower-right-corner tip to open charms to get to settings, will do wtf they say i could do if i could swipe, which i can not do, except by accident…

    i discovered that msconfig in win8 lets me do win 7 or win 8 AND there is a default os setting, who knew! THIS IS GREAT! MORE MENU TEXT CHECKBOX and NO PICTURES MOVEMENTS OF BODY PARTS ACTUAL OR FIGURATIVE!

    • If you’re dual booting, you could have set that up with the program EasyBCD in Windows 7 after installing 8, but it’s good that you found it. My computer automatically gave me the choice to boot into whatever I want without setting anything up, though.

      • msconfig no longer works at all in my win8…task manager lacks a menu inb win7…prolly got to run win defender for 8 hrs grrr

      • and if there is a non-gesture way to open charms please advise. can’t imagine what a “swipe” action is nor how it mite be done…

  • Page worth spreading around. Wonderful article. Thanks. 

  • I can’t seem to find a twitter app on the consumer preview. The app tweet@rama is gone(even tho it sucked) where is a twitter app!?!?

  • I can’t seem to find a twitter app on the consumer preview. The app tweet@rama is gone(even tho it sucked) where is a twitter app!?!?

  • Just found all programs by right click on start page, now looking for command line……

  • Just found all programs by right click on start page, now looking for command line……

  • Ernest Koncaba

    It sounds better with each post you put up. And, you do give nice detailed instructions on how to and where to do things. Grewat article. Loved it. Gotta share it.

  • Ernest Koncaba

    It sounds better with each post you put up. And, you do give nice detailed instructions on how to and where to do things. Grewat article. Loved it. Gotta share it.

  • As I said in the video comments on Youtube for this article. There is a way to add the Start menu back using a 3rd party program called ViStart. Its been around for years as a way to add the Vista/Win7 start menu to XP. And works just as well for Windows 8.

  • As I said in the video comments on Youtube for this article. There is a way to add the Start menu back using a 3rd party program called ViStart. Its been around for years as a way to add the Vista/Win7 start menu to XP. And works just as well for Windows 8.

  • Page worth spreading around. Wonderful article. Thanks. 

  • All would know all these, if they have installed windows 8. Sorry but I thought, there would be something different. You are just introducing windows 8 settings. 

  • All would know all these, if they have installed windows 8. Sorry but I thought, there would be something different. You are just introducing windows 8 settings. 

  • Nice overview, what would you say is the best new feature?

  • Looks amazing, better than something Apple have ever done. Last good thing they did was the Iphone.

  • Sebastiaan Saarloos

    But one thing, what as you don’t like changes in every new version of windows? All windows os versions from 95/nt4.0 are on the same base for interface and why? It works very fine. Now they are change all things, nothing works the same, why do they the same thing like apple. A different OS special for tablets, especially for tablets and not do things stupids. I’m siriously thingking to go to linux or MacOSx for an new Desktop.

  • Sebastiaan Saarloos

    But one thing, what as you don’t like changes in every new version of windows? All windows os versions from 95/nt4.0 are on the same base for interface and why? It works very fine. Now they are change all things, nothing works the same, why do they the same thing like apple. A different OS special for tablets, especially for tablets and not do things stupids. I’m siriously thingking to go to linux or MacOSx for an new Desktop.

  • Sebastiaan Saarloos

    But one thing, what as you don’t like changes in every new version of windows? All windows os versions from 95/nt4.0 are on the same base for interface and why? It works very fine. Now they are change all things, nothing works the same, why do they the same thing like apple. A different OS special for tablets, especially for tablets and not do things stupids. I’m siriously thingking to go to linux or MacOSx for an new Desktop.

  • Wish they would bring back the weather animations they looked good on my HTPC

  • Nancy Lichtenstein

    This makes it look very appealing.

  • Wanting to re-enable the start menu is like forcing yourself to use command prompt to launch apps. People need to stop using a 15 year old technology and learn how to work in the 21st century. 

  • Wanting to re-enable the start menu is like forcing yourself to use command prompt to launch apps. People need to stop using a 15 year old technology and learn how to work in the 21st century. 

  • Wow the feb 27 feedback tool download is an awesome way to comment on win8 to the MS Teams!

  • Great article and Video…keep up the great work and thanx for all of the info.. I am having a ton of fun using windows 8… I am now using, apple os x, Ubuntu, windows 7, windows xp and now win 8…all installed on same machine… I have configured windows 8 with all the info you can get off of the web and it is a breeze to get used to… I like metro and having the regular desktop… all the settings can be changed on metro to actually make things easier and more user friendly.. the more I work with the OS the more I like it… I think Microsoft Surface Pro is going to be really cool… can’t wait to see it.. thanks again for all your hard work.. 🙂

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