How to use your Desktop Background image on the Windows 8.1 Start Screen

Windows 8.1 is only a few days away from general availability and the public is starting to get excited.  And I think the anticipation is justified.  There are a myriad of new features that you’ll love, one of which is the ability to make your start screen background match your desktop background. Part of the problem of Windows 8 was that the Start Screen and traditional Windows Desktop felt like two disparate things.

In many ways, it felt like Windows 8 had a split personality and couldn’t figure out if it as designed for tablets or laptops and desktops.  The oversized live tiles made Windows feel like it was built for tablets yet the traditional desktop was better suited for non-touch computers.  The Start Screen and Desktop were disconnected – there was nothing that unified them and so the user experience suffered. Windows 8.1 changes this by making both screens feel more cohesive.  The simple act of matching the background images between screens makes Windows 8.1 feel more immersive.

Here’s how to get started:

Fire up your computer and click the Desktop app in the bottom left corner of the Start Screen.  The Desktop App is a rectangular thumbnail of your current desktop background.

You can also press the Windows Key + d to enter into Desktop land.

Windows 8.1 Start Screen

Next, right click the taskbar go to Properties and click the Navigation tab in the Taskbar and Navigation properties window. In the middle of the window, there’s a little option to Show my desktop background on start.

Click a check in the box, choose OK and press the Windows Key to zoom back to the Start Screen.

Windows 8.1 Show my desktop background on Start

The Start Screen background should now reflect your Desktop wallpaper.  If not, you might have to reboot before the changes take effect.

Windows 8.1 Start Screen with Desktop Background

There are several good sites out there for  high-definition wallpapers.  I published an article a few days ago listing my top 5 favorites.  I found the whale tale Antarctic theme on

If you want a fresh roll of images on your screen everyday, you can download the Bing Desktop App from the Windows Store.  The Bing Desktop App will constantly keep your desktop new as updated backgrounds show up from the homepage.  All images are high-definition and adapt to your screen dimensions.

You can open the Windows Store and type in Bing Desktop to get started.

Bing Desktop


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