How to Make Transparent Wallpapers

Written by melissa worcester
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How to Make Transparent Wallpapers
Make your laptop screen look transparent with this neat trick. (laptop with white screen image by Anatoly Tiplyashin from

You can't make your desktop wallpaper transparent, but you can make an image that makes it look like your whole computer screen is transparent and you can see whatever is behind it. This is easier to do if your computer is a laptop, though to get the right effect, you then have to leave the laptop in the same location all the time. It's a better long-term trick if you make this type of background for a desktop computer, and especially effective if one or more objects can be seen next to the computer screen and also extend behind it, such as a cord, a poster on the wall or an item on your desk.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Digital camera
  • Tripod (optional)
  • Image-editing software

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  1. 1

    Take a photo of your computer. If your computer is a laptop, take a picture of the laptop with the screen open. The computer should be positioned in a location where you most frequently use it. If you have a tripod, set it up to take both this photo and the one in the step below, without moving the camera in between shots.

  2. 2

    Remove the computer monitor or close the laptop and take another photo of the exact same location. This photo should show the area behind where the monitor or screen was when you took the first photo. The camera should be in the exact same spot as it was when you took the first photo for best results.

  3. 3

    Open both photos in your image-editing software.

  4. 4

    Make a copy of the second photo, the photo that shows what is behind the computer monitor.

  5. 5

    Select the first photo, the one that shows the computer screen. Name the existing layer "Screen Photo" by editing the default name in the Layer Properties palette. You may have to promote the background to a layer, depending on the software you are using, to rename the layer. Then paste the copy of the second photo in as a new layer. Name the new layer "Behind Screen."

  6. 6

    Select the Behind Screen layer and lower the layer's opacity to approximately 50 per cent. Do this in the Layer palette. You should be able to see the photo with the computer screen through the other layer, but the Behind Screen photo should still be visible as well.

  7. 7

    Drag the Behind Screen layer so that items that are shown in both photos line up exactly. If you did a good job taking the photos, the two images should line up without the need to resize one of them. If not, scale one of the images or retake the photos, whichever is easier for you.

  8. 8

    Select the Screen Photo layer. Using the rectangle selection tool, select the area just inside the screen's bevel, so that your marquee goes around the exact edge of the actual computer screen.

  9. 9

    Select the Behind Screen layer, making sure to keep the selection in place. Set this layer's opacity back to 100 per cent. Then select "Copy" from the "Edit" menu.

  10. 10

    Open a new image and select "Paste." Or you may be able to select "Paste as New Image" from the "Edit" menu. The image you've pasted should be the area behind your computer screen, and nothing else.

  11. 11

    Save the image as a JPG. Discard all changes made to the other images.

  12. 12

    Alter your system settings to make the image you saved in step 11 your desktop wallpaper. Now when anyone looks at your computer, it will look as if the screen is transparent.

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