Many websites provide background and wallpaper files for Windows. If you do an MSN or Google search for "Windows wallpaper" (this search provides more results than searching for backgrounds), you get a huge list of possibilities (see Figure 11.3).
Figure 11.3. A search for "Windows wallpaper" provides a large number of results.
It's a lot of fun to explore the various possibilities in terms of websites that provide wallpaper downloads. You can quickly build a large library of desktop backgrounds you can use with your themes and skins.
However, you need to be careful in terms of spyware, Trojan horses, and viruses when you are exploring unknown websites. Make sure you are using the Windows Firewall, which is installed when you install Windows SP2, or a firewall of your choice and have your virus signature up-to-date. You can then deflect some of the malware (malicious code) you might encounter when browsing the various sites.
The best places to get backgrounds are sites associated with the skinning software you are using. For instance, if you are using WindowBlinds, it is hooked into wincustomize.com, which makes quickly navigating to that website easy. Style XP and StarSkin also have associated sites that contain themes, skins, backgrounds, and so on. Refer to Chapter 6, "A Closer Look at Skinning Software," for more about these skinning packages and the file library websites with which they are associated.
Depending on your background needs, however, you might not find what you need at the site associated with your skinning software. So, here are a few additional websites that seem to be pretty safe in terms of downloading wallpaper files:
Malware (viruses, spyware, and so on) isn't the only issue when downloading files from the Web. Sometimes files are wrapped with other programs. So, you might download what you think is a wallpaper file and, when you use the installation program provided, end up with a bunch of new toolbars and buying services you didn't really want. Be careful because much of the stowaway software you run across when downloading files can slow and even crash your system.
As far as downloading and saving the background/wallpaper files from a particular website, you might run across more than one scenario. Some websites zip their background files, so you must download the file and then use the Extraction Wizard to extract the file(s) to a particular folder.
When you download background files, they also might be compressed in an executable file. Download the file and then run it to uncompress or (in some cases) install the background. Remember that executable files pose the most risk in terms of malware finding its way onto your computer.
Double-click any zipped file in Windows Explorer. A new window opens, showing the contents of the zipped file. The Extract All Files command is available in the left command panel of the Explorer window. Click the command to start the Extraction Wizard. You can then extract the files to a location you choose.
You also might run across websites that don't have the background file set up as an download. In these cases, when you click the background sample (typically in the form of a thumbnail), you are taken to a second web page where the background is shown in its actual sizesome sites provide more than one size of the image, such as 800 ¥ 600 and 1024 ¥ 768. Right-click the image and a shortcut menu appears. You have two choices at this point (see Figure 11.4). You can choose the Set As Background command to apply the picture as the desktop background immediately, or you can click Save Picture As. This option opens the Save As dialog box, where you can save the file to a location of your choice.
Figure 11.4. Set the image as the background, or save the file.
You probably should save the image because, as soon as you use the Set As Background command on another image, the first image is no longer available. Saving the image enables you to apply the background using the Display Properties dialog box or any of the commands related to applying the background file supplied by skinning software, such as StarSkin.