How to Change Themes on Windows 11

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Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast. Read more…
Themes allow you to quickly customize Windows 11’s appearance with a single click, changing wallpapers, colors, and sounds together at the same time. Here’s how to set your theme—or create a custom one—in Windows 11.
To get started with themes in Windows 11, you’ll first need to open the Settings app and visit the “Personalization” section. To get there quickly, right-click the desktop and select “Personalize.”
Right-click the desktop and select "Personalize."
When Windows Settings opens, you’ll automatically be in the “Personalization” section. Here you can quickly switch to a theme by clicking a thumbnail in the “Click a theme to apply” section near the top of the window.
This is a great way to quickly switch between a light mode theme (with a light background and light windows) and a dark mode theme (with dark colors), for example.
In Windows 11 Personalization settings, click a theme thumbnail at the top to change themes quickly.
If you’d like to save a custom theme, see all your available themes, or get new themes, scroll down in Settings > Personalization and click “Themes.”
In Windows 11 Personalization settings, click "Themes."
In Windows 11, a custom theme is a combination of your personalization settings for desktop background, accent color color, dark or light mode, mouse cursor style, and sound scheme. You can set those individually in different sections of Settings and Control Panel, but Windows provides provides quick links to each of them at the top of the Personalization > Themes page. To use them, just click “Background,” “Color,” “Sounds,” or “Mouse Cursor” near the top of the window. Each link will take you to the proper page in Settings or Control Panel where you can set those options.
Click a link near the top of the themes window to change mouse, sound, color, or background settings.
If you have previously set a custom desktop background in Windows Settings or modified your sound scheme, accent color, or mouse cursor style, you’ll have the option to save your personalization settings as a custom theme in Personalization > Themes. To do so, click the “Save” button located just below summary area.
Click "Save" to save your current personalization settings as a custom theme.
After clicking “Save,” Windows will ask you to name the theme in a pop-up window. Type in the name and click “Save.” After that, your custom theme will appear in the list of themes in the section below.
Speaking of that section, expand the “Current Theme” menu (if it’s not already open) by clicking it. Below that, you’ll see thumbnails of each available theme arranged in a grid. Within each thumbnail, you’ll see a preview of that theme’s desktop image, highlight color, and window color (dark or light). To switch themes, click any one of the thumbnails, and the theme will change automatically.
Click a theme thumbail to switch to it.
To install new themes from the Microsoft Store, click the “Browse Themes” button located below the theme thumbnail section.
Click "Browse Themes."
The Microsoft Store app will open to its “Themes” section. Browse to any theme you’re interested in. Many of the them are available for no charge. If you want to download a free theme to your PC, click the “Free” button located under the theme’s name.
Click "Free."
Alternately, you can purchase themes as well using your Microsoft account.
After they’re installed, close the Microsoft Store and return to the Settings app on the Personalization > Themes page. To use one of the new themes, click its thumbnail in the “Current Theme” section, and it will take effect immediately. To tidy things up, close Settings, and you’re ready to use Windows with your new theme. Happy customizing!
RELATED: How to Change the Desktop Background on Windows 11
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