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April 29, 2014

Deep dive into Windows Phone 8.1 Start screen backgrounds

One of the new features to come with Windows Phone 8.1 is the ability to integrate an image with your perfectly arranged Live Tiles. Let’s take a closer look.


It’s worth noting right from the start that not all Live Tiles can be altered, just the main system tiles such as the dialler, messaging, calendar, Cortana and other built-in features of Windows Phone 8.1.

Tip: check out the third-party Transparency Tiles app available on the Windows Phone Store to open up more options.


To change from the standard coloured tiles, head into Settings and then Start + Theme.

Directly beneath the background and accent colour options that were available on previous versions of Windows Phone lies the Start Background feature.

Selecting choose photo will launch you into your Photo Hub where you can browse through your Camera Roll and any of your connected online accounts such as Facebook, Twitter or OneDrive.

There’s also a new Backgrounds gallery that’s loaded with a large selection of images. You’ve got plenty of choice if you prefer to use something other than your own shot.

Once you’ve found the perfect photo you’ll then be asked to crop it. Simply pinch the screen to zoom in or out and move the image around to find the best position.

Finding the perfect photo to fit your own personalised Start screen is tricky; everybody has their own way of customising their tiles after all.

You need to find a balance of beauty and practicality. It’s no good using a photo if it means you have to re-position all of your Live Tiles, making it less easy to access the things that are important.

We’d recommend a course of trial and error. Select an image and jump back to the Start screen. If it doesn’t fit, make some adjustments to the cropping, or select your next favourite.

Repeat until you’ve found the perfect combination that works.

We think this is a pretty cool feature. What do you think?