What Is the Difference Between Themes & Wallpaper?

By Veronica Romualdez

Themes and wallpapers are both used to change the look of your computer's or mobile device's interface. Learning the difference between the two can help you to decide which one to choose when you want to personalize your computer or cellphone.


A theme for your computer or mobile phone is a set of pictures and colors and, sometimes, even a specific set of sounds. A chosen theme may include a wallpaper, a screensaver, title bars, an alert sound scheme, icons and mouse pointer that all go together to create a uniform look and feel.


A wallpaper, also known as a desktop background or desktop picture, is an image, color or design on your desktop or cellphone. A wallpaper serves as the backdrop and may be used without changing any of the other elements such as the icons, screensaver and sounds.

Theme Considerations

Choosing a particular theme eliminates the need to change some of the things that are customizable one by one. This makes things simpler; however, although a theme comes as a set, you are still able to change, for example, the set of icons or the sounds that comes with the theme. You're not limited to using all of the elements that the theme comes with. Sometimes, themes may be animated.

Wallpaper Considerations

A wallpaper allows you to change the look of your computer's desktop without changing anything else. It can be as simple as changing the desktop's color or using an digital image. Wallpaper images are included with Mac and Windows operating systems, for example, but you may also upload your own pictures to use as a wallpaper. In addition, you're able to choose how you want the image positioned on your desktop. Like themes, some wallpapers are also animated.