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Syncing your Settings between Computers

Windows 10 offers two types of synchronization among computers:

  • A theme is an über configuration that combines and names the various personalization settings that you can make. Themes can incorporate the desktop background, window color, sound scheme, screen saver, desktop icons, and mouse pointers.
  • A more comprehensive collection of synchronization settings encompasses not only themes but various other personalization options:
    • Web Browser Settings:
      Settings you make using the Settings command in Microsoft Edge and the Internet Options command in Internet Explorer
    • Passwords:
      Passwords you've saved in your web browser
    • Language Preferences:
      Settings you make in Settings, Time & Language
    • Ease Of Access:
      Settings you make in Settings, Ease Of Access
    • Other Windows Settings:
      Various other settings, ranging from window positions to Start menu arrangements to calendar settings-and many more

Note that these are all settings that pertain to your own Microsoft account or domain account (either a work domain or an Azure Active Directory domain). Settings that apply to all users at your computer, such as screen resolution, are not included in the current theme or other synchronized settings. Also, settings associated with a local user account don't get synchronized with other computers.

Working with themes

To select a theme, go to Settings, Personalization, Themes, and then click Theme Settings. A dialog box appears showing predefined themes included with Windows as well as themes you've saved. Simply click one to select it; the theme is applied right away, so if you don't like what you see and hear, you can select another before you close the window.

If you've got all the visual and aural aspects of your profile set up just the way you want them, and you want to be able to experiment further but still return to the current settings, it's time to revisit Theme Settings. At the top of the themes list, in the My Themes category, you'll see Unsaved Theme if you made changes to whatever theme was previously in effect. To make those changes reusable, click Save Theme and supply a name.

If you make additional changes, you'll once again generate an Unsaved Theme entry. There's no limit to the number of themes you can create. Windows saves each group of settings as a .theme file in your %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Themes folder. (A .theme file is a standard text file that describes all the theme settings.) You can delete unwanted items from the My Themes list; simply right-click the item you no longer want and choose Delete Theme. Note that you can't delete the theme that's currently in use.

Share themes with friends or from a local user account:
Syncing themes among your devices is effortless when you sign in with a Microsoft account. But even if you use a local account, you still might want to use a theme on your other computers or share it with other users. Because a .theme file is just a text file, it doesn't contain the graphic images of your desktop, the sound files you use for various events, or other necessary files that make up the entire theme experience. For the purpose of sharing themes, Windows uses a .themepack file, which includes the .theme file as well as all other nonstandard theme elements. A .themepack file uses the standard compressed folder (.zip archive) format to envelop its component files. To create a .themepack file of an item in My Themes, right-click it and choose Save Theme For Sharing. Unless you specify otherwise, Windows saves the .themepack file in the default save location of your Documents library.

To use a theme that was saved in .theme or .themepack format, simply double-click it. (Of course, a .theme file won't offer the full experience if the theme's components aren't available on your computer in folders to which you have access. To create a .themepack file-which includes all the necessary files-see the preceding tip.)

Because themes are so easily portable, you can find many compelling Windows themes online. Start your quest by clicking Get More Themes Online (under My Themes in Personalization), where Microsoft offers a nice selection.

Synchronizing other settings

To manage synchronization of various other components, in Settings click Accounts.