Monthly Archives: November 2010

Creating the Perfect Windows 7 Wallpaper Theme

One of the great past times of using Windows 7 is customizing it to your liking. Microsoft has made making Windows your own a fun activity, whether its using the built in tools to customize the appearance of the desktop or even using third party tools to create a unique log in background. A few weeks ago Microsoft launched a contest on its Windows Team Blog about ‘Clouds’, the aim was to find the best images of clouds. The best entry selected would appear on, unfortunately, persons outside the US do not qualify, not to worry though, since one of the great things about customizing your Windows 7 experience, you can also share it and I am going to show you just how to do that.

For this article, I am going to be using a set of photos I took at home, feel to use yours if you wish. Our tools of choice today is Microsoft Paint and the Control Panel Screen Resolution item.

The first thing we need to find out is the maximum resolution supported by our Display Monitor. The purpose of this is to ensure the wallpaper does not look stretched or squeezed on screen. To find out your maximum Resolution supported, right click your desktop, click Screen Resolution.


This will open the Screen Resolution Control Panel Item.

Click in the Resolution list box and take note of the maximum resolution supported by your display. You might need to write this down.

Next we will proceed to resize the image using Microsoft Paint. Browse to where the image is located, or you can open it from within Microsoft Paint. Just to be safe, create a backup copy of the image just in case you make a mistake when editing it.

Microsoft Paint

Once you are in Paint, all you have to do is click the Resize button (located under Home (tab) > Image (group) or press CTRL + W on your keyboard.

This will present the Resize and Skew window on screen. We will be using the Resize tools.

  • Select Pixels radio box
  • Uncheck Maintain aspect ration
  • Enter the desired resolutions in the Horizontal and Vertical boxes. This is the resolution we had written down earlier from the Screen Resolution Control Panel item.

So for example, my screen resolution is 1680 by 1050, so I would enter 1680 in to the Horizontal box and 1050 in the Vertical box. Once this is done, click OK.

Resized image

Apply the same steps for additional images you would like to have added to your Wallpaper Theme. Remember to save the changes.

Once the images have been properly resized, its time to create the wallpaper theme. Right click your desktop, then click Personalize


This will open the Personalize Control Panel item.

At the bottom of the window, click the Desktop Background link:


Click the Browse button and point to where you have the image or images stored. In my case, I had all my images I wanted for my wallpaper theme stored in a folder called Cloud – copy for easy access.


Once you have selected the location where the images are stored, click OK. The images will now be populated with the option to pick and choose which images you would like to be a part of the wallpaper theme and slide show.


You can set specific settings such as how long a picture should be displayed on screen, in addition to shuffling them around. You can also click in the Picture position list box and set a desired appearance on screen.


Once you are satisfied and made your adjustments, click the Save changes button.

Our Wallpaper theme will now appear in the Gallery of themes.

Now, you don’t want to lose the theme, and you might want to share it with family and friends. Here is how you do it. Right click the Unsaved Theme as it is called,  click ‘Save theme for sharing’

Give the File a name, this will save it as a Theme Pack you can easily email or share on your blog.

Other tips:

Before saving, you can change the Glass Color, add a Unique Sound and even a Screen saver, then save it to provide a truly unique experience that defines you. 

Here is my theme I created, click it to download and save. Enjoy!

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Extreme How-to: Network Windows 7 and Windows 98

Yesterday the Windows Team Blog introduced a new member to its family of Windows related blogs called the Windows Extreme Blog. With the launch of this new innovative blog, I would like to publish one of my first Extreme Windows Blog post to coincide with this theme since the aim is to share experiences that are outside of the traditional types of activities.

Yes, you read right, Windows 98. Now, some persons might be wondering if I have ran out of ideas or experiences to write about regarding Windows 7. Which is understandable, considering the wealth of information and resources that exist across the web about Microsoft’s latest operating system. In a previous article I talked about the on-going progress for many persons  who are still running older versions of Windows migrating to Windows 7. Although Windows XP is a larger bulk of that ongoing migration, there is still a small batch of Windows 9x (98 and ME users) out there.

One particular story I came across on a forum is a user running Windows 98 with GB’s of files he said he would like to bring over to his Windows 7 machine. I found the challenge an exciting one and decided to find out if it was possible to network a modern version of Windows with a 12 year old version way past its expiry date. The answer is, its very much possible, but involves some hands on configuration than what you would require between two Windows 7 PC’s. It’s a testament to how far we have come. Networking PC’s today in Windows 7 is so much easier, HomeGroups make it a cinch to share files and resources such as a printer.

Lets get started:

I tried this with Windows 98 SE and Windows 7 64 bit and it worked just as a I describe. Hurdles you might encounter:

– Setting File sharing
– Ethernet Adapter if you don’t have one installed in the Windows 98 machine, this will make it a challenge.
– You might need to have your Windows 98 disk on hand especially for installing and configuring TCP/IP

In Windows 98

On the desktop, right click ‘Network Neighborhood’
Click Properties
Go to the ‘Identification’ tab
Enter a WORKGROUP name

Enter a ‘Computer name’:

Click Apply and OK

Changing Workgroup settings in Windows 7

You should use this workgroup name also on Windows 7 machine.
In Windows 7, click Start, right click Computer
Click Properties
Under ‘Computer name, domain, and workgroup settings’
Click ‘Change settings’
Select the ‘Computer Name’ tab
Next to ‘To rename this computer or change its domain or workgroup, click Change.

Enter the WORKGROUP name we created in Windows 98

Make sure the workgroup name is the same as the one on the Windows 98 machine, you might be required to restart the machine for settings to be applied. Do so.

Once Windows 7 has restarted, you are gonna apply an IP address

Click Start, click Network
Click Network and Sharing Center
Under Control Panel Home
Click ‘Change Adapter Settings’
Right click your Network adapter
Click Properties
Select TCI/IP 4
Click Properties
select ‘Use the following IP address’:


Click OK

Click Apply and OK
Back to the Windows 98 machine

On the desktop, right click ‘Network Neighborhood’
Click Properties

Select the ‘Configuration’ tab
Select TCP/IP
(again, if its not listed, click Add and follow to wizard to install one, you should make sure you already have an Ethernet adapter installed or this will be futile experience).

Click Properties
Select IP Address tab
Select ‘Obtain an IP address automatically’
Click OK

In the Primary Network Logon: box, select:
Clients for Microsoft Networks

Click File and Print Sharing

Check ‘I want to be able to give others access to my files"

You might be prompted to insert your Windows 98 CD and restart your computer (good luck with that).

Still in Windows 98,
Open My Computer

Right click the C:\ drive or wherever Windows 98 is installed
Click ‘Sharing’
Select ‘Shared As’
Share Name, for example: ‘WIN98BKUP’

If you don’t want to share the drive, you can individually share the folder if you want instead.

Access Type: Full

Give it a password just to be safe: call it: win98
Confirm the password
Click OK
Click Apply and OK

Restart the machine.


You should now see both machines appear on each others Network:

My Windows 7 machine even shows up in Windows 98

In Windows 7, click Start,
Click Network
you should see the Windows 98 machine show up
The C:\ drive that was shared appear as a folder
Double click it, enter the password we created: win98
Browse it and copy and paste over whatever files you need


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Using Windows.old to Recover your personal files

Its been over a year since the release of Windows 7 and the market has spoken, Windows 7 is a hit! The migration is still in progress though, considering that Windows XP usage dropped below 60% for the first time there is still a considerable amount of users out there running the 9 year old operating system. Recent data has shown that Windows 7 is up 18% while Windows Vista is down 12%, alternative operating systems such as Linux and Mac OS X are also down 0.85% and 5% respectively. I am still journalizing my experiences with Windows 7 one year later and one of the things I want to continue doing is help with migration scenarios. Today we are taking a look at the Windows.old folder.

What is it? What does it do?

Windows.old is basically a backup copy of your old Windows installation (Windows XP or Vista) for example if you have upgraded from those operating systems to Windows 7. The intended purpose is to store your old files and settings just in case you either need to reinstall the previous version of Windows or need to recover important files and settings. Windows.old comes in handy as an alternative to using Windows Easy Transfer if you have enough disk space to store it. It is still highly recommended you use Windows Easy Transfer though since it guarantees a smooth, reliable migration. In this article I am going to show you how to use Windows.old, in a future article, I will show you how to use it to reinstall Windows. One of the changes to licensing in Windows 7 is that, you need to have a previously installed and activated version of Windows (XP or Vista) to qualify for the upgrade version. I have authored tutorials about this, but factors exist that might prevent persons from utilizing system imaging.

Windows XP

As you can see in the above screenshot, I have a well used Windows XP system with applications such as Microsoft Office installed.In this scenario, I have to do a Windows 7 Professional 64 bit Custom Clean install over Windows XP Professional 32 bit. As you can see in the screenshot below, I am informed that the installation will do a Custom Clean install.

I had no other choice, since I cannot start the installation from within a 32 bit operating system and there is no upgrade option. The availability of 64 bit processors since late 2003 means that a lot of persons want to utilize their hardware to the fullest. Although these systems were initially preloaded with a 32 bit version of Windows users were guaranteed that they can do an upgrade to a 64 bit version of Windows in the future. Technically you can’t, Microsoft even recommends persons who have a 32 bit operating system such as Vista installed, upgrade to a 32 bit version of Windows 7 and vice versa. Not a lot of persons think this ways, factors include, access to more memory, better performance, security and availability, even enthusiasm are factors for going 64 bit. In the case of moving to 64 bit, say you forgot to use the available tools for backing your personal files and settings, this is where Windows.old might be ready to save the day.  Of course, you will have to reinstall all your programs and drivers.


During the installation Windows 7 detects that there is already an existing installation on the drive and will move any important files and settings to Windows.old. Once the installation is complete you can find the Windows.old folder by clicking Start > Computer > (open the drive on which Windows 7 is installed, usually C:\), at the root of the drive, you should see it there. If not, click Organize on the Command Bar, go to the View Tab and select the radio box for ‘Show all hidden files, drives and folders’. Then click Apply and OK.


Inside the Windows.old folder, you will see three folders: Documents and Settings, Program Files and Windows. We are going to look at using Documents and Settings to restore our personal files such as Documents and Emails. One of the changes Microsoft made is  to remove programs previously bundled with Windows such as email, video editing, instant messaging. You can download the successors to these programs for free at, its now called Windows Live Essentials 2011.

Windows 7 desktop

So, you don’t see any of your Documents and Music files you had in your folders in Windows XP, after doing the custom clean install. Before you panic lets first look if the Windows.old folder was created. 

If its there, open the Documents and Settings folder, look in your old account folder, in my case its adacosta, there you will see all of your files.

Recovering your personal files

After discovering your personal files, all you need to do is copy and paste them to their respective folders in Windows 7 such as Documents, Music, Picture, Videos, etc.

Click Organize on the command bar, click Select All, click Organize again, then click Copy. (Quick tip, press CRTL + A on your keyboard, then CTRL + C).

Then click Start > Documents > Organize > the click Paste or use the keyboard command CTRL + V).

That’s it, of course, the My Music folder will be placed here, if you want to have it situated in the Music folder instead, select, press Alt on your keyboard, click Edit drop down menu, click Move to Folder > select Music > then click Move. The same can be done for your My Pictures and My Videos folder if you have any files stored there.

Recovering your Email Messages

Now, this is one of the big concerns when moving from Windows XP to Windows 7. Where is my email program, where are my emails? As I noted earlier, there is no built in email program in Windows 7, you have to download one, you are not limited to the free Windows Live Mail program, if you prefer an alternative such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird, you can use those too. Just for this article, we are going to be using Windows Live Mail. Before importing our messages into Windows Live Mail, we first need to find where the messages are located, then copy and paste the folder in a location that is discoverable by Windows Live Mail. Click Start, open Computer, click Organize on the Command Bar > Folder and search options > View (tab) > in the Advanced settings: list, select ‘Show hidden files, folders, or drives‘ under Hidden files and folders. The click Apply and OK.

Click Start, open Computer > open the C:\ drive, open the Windows.old in the search box, type the following extension: .dbx

You will now see multiple files with the extension .dbx select all of these files, click Organize, then click Copy. Click Start, open the Documents folder, create a new folder, call it Backup Mail. Open it, click Organize then click Paste.

Once you have configured Windows Live Mail, press Alt on your keyboard (this is for Windows Live Mail wave 3), then select File > Import then click Messages.

Select Microsoft Outlook Express 6, if you have upgraded from from Windows Vista and used Windows Mail that came built in as the mail client, select that. If you upgraded from Windows XP or Vista and used a previous version of Windows Live Mail such as version 2008 (build 12.0.1606), select that option, then click Next.

At the Location of Messages screen click Browse navigate down to Backup Mail folder we created earlier containing the .dbx files.

Click Next, you will now see the Select Folders screen, go with the default All Folders, then click Next.

You will now see your messages import, click Finish to complete. If you don’t see your emails populated, make sure you expand the Storage folders tree in the Folder pane, expand the Imported Folders then expand Local folders then click Inbox. If you don’t see this folder, restart Windows Live Mail and try again.

Windows Live Mail 2011 users can start the import process by clicking File menu then click Import Messages follow the same instructions for importing. That’s it!

Should you delete the Windows.old folder? The Windows.old folder can take up a considerable amount of disk space, but I don’t recommend you immediately delete it, just in case you might need to copy over a missing file or folder. Also, if you need to reinstall Windows XP or Vista in the future and you don’t have access to your recovery media, Windows.old might be all you got left to do so.

In our next article, we will be looking at using Windows.old to do a downgrade installation otherwise known as uninstalling Windows 7.


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