Xbox One S Tip: Personalize Your New Console

Posted on August 4, 2016 by Paul Thurrott in Xbox One with 0 Comments

Xbox One S Tip: Personalize Your New Console

OK, you’ve unpacked and set up your new Xbox One S console and have arrived at your decidedly empty new Dashboard. Here’s what you should do next.

This is ugly. Let's fix it.

This is ugly. Let’s fix it.

I wrote about the Xbox One S first run experience—where you work through a multi-step wizard to set up and configure your new console—yesterday. There’s no way to skip any of the steps in that wizard, but if you want to change some of the choices you made during this initial setup, you can do so later. These and other configuration options are discussed here.

Install apps and games

First up, you should get some apps and games installed. This is especially important for games, as most Xbox One games are quite big—I have several that are 25 GB or more in size—and they take quite some time to download. So let’s get that going first.

You can find the apps and games you already own in My Games & Apps, which can easily be reached by the “My games & apps” tile in the top right of the Home view in the Xbox One Dashboard.

My Games & Apps has been updated recently to be much easier to use, though long-time Xbox One gamers will note that there’s no way to sort your owned apps or games list by date, which is a weird misstep. Your owned apps and games are found in the Ready to Install tab. Just scroll through the list, find an app or game you wish to install, press the Menu button on your controller, and choose Install.


When you do so, the game is added to the download queue, which you can view via the Queue tab. Or, you can just see the download status in the left pane below the tab names.


Installed games are found under the Games tab, while your installed apps are obviously found in the Apps view. By default, there are no installed games, but Microsoft does install a number of apps for you.

You can find new apps (which are generally free) and games in the Store, which is now a separate app on Xbox One. (Previously, Store was integrated into the Dashboard.) You can find the store by returning to the Home view of the Dashboard (press the Xbox button on your controller), and then navigating to the Store tab at the top (Up, Right, Right, Right).


I assume you know how to use an online store. But you may want to spend a bit of time looking at the entertainment apps—Netflix, Hulu, Microsoft Movies & TV, and so on—in the Browse Apps view. And be sure you’re paying attention to Microsoft’s monthly “Games with Gold” promotion, which I feature each month on this site. (Here’s the most recent version as of this writing.) Assuming you’re an Xbox Live Gold member, you get four free games each month (two are for the Xbox 360, but will run on Xbox One as well).

Pin apps and games to Home

Once you have some apps and games installed, you may want to consider pinning them to the Home view. This is a bit like pinning apps and games to the Windows 10 Start menu, and as with that interface, these pinned items are always just one or two clicks (well, button pushes) away.

Pinned apps and games are available from the Home view of the Dashboard. So press Home on your controller and then Right Trigger (RT) to view the list of Pins.


To pin an app or game to this list, find it in My Games & Apps, press the Menu button, and choose Pin to Home.


You can manage pins as well. To delete a pinned item, select it in Pins, press the Menu button, and select Unpin. To move its location, select it, press the Menu button, and choose Move Pin. The tile will become highlighted, so you can use the d-pad to change its location in the list and then press the “A” button to place it.

Change the accent color

Hopefully you selected a Dashboard accent color during initial setup, but as I noted in Hands On: Xbox One S First Run Experience, that’s one of the steps where it’s not immediately obvious what’s selected. It’s OK, you can change this at any time.

To do so, and to make the other changes listed below, you need to find Settings. There are a few ways to get there, but the easiest is via the Xbox Guide: Press the Home button to return to the Home view of the Dashboard, and then press Left on the d-pad to display the Guide. Then, navigate down to the Settings item (the gear icon) and choose All Settings from the list.


Settings appears.


Navigate to Personalization, My Color & Background. Then, select My Color. In the color grid that appears, select a new color.


Change the background image

While there is a My Background item in the My Color & Background area in Personalization settings, actually getting a custom background image onto your Xbox One S is surprisingly difficult.

For example, if you view the Custom Image option in Your Background (nice naming consistency there, Microsoft; it’s called My Background in the previous screen), you’re prompted to search for an app in the Store. And the app you’re presented with … is Media Player.


That seems illogical, but Xbox One doesn’t provide a File Explorer app like the one found in Windows 10, and what you need is some way to display the files found on an attached USB-based storage device (hard drive or memory stick) or, if you have such a thing, a network-based share. And, go figure, Media Player will do both.

Once the app is installed, you can go find a favorite picture you’ve saved. The easiest way, perhaps, is to copy it to a USB flash drive from your PC and then plug that PC into your Xbox One S. When you do, you’ll be prompted to view its contents with Media Player.


Do so, and then select the USB device from the list of location tiles. Then, find the picture, open it (press “A”) to view it, and then press the Menu button on your controller. Voila!


Select “Set as background.” You can see how this looks by returning to the Dashboard.


(Obviously, if you have pictures in a share on your home network, you can access those locations using Media Player instead.)

One thing you may discover is that all those tiles cover up the image a bit too much. Fortunately, you can change the tile transparency so that your background image is more visible. To do so, navigate to Settings, Personalization, My Color & Background, Tile Transparency. Here, you can choose between “Solid,” “Mostly solid,” “Partly transparent,” and “Mostly transparent” tiles.

Change other settings

I’m going to look more closely at other important settings, like those for power management, sign-in, and security, in the near future. But now is probably a good time to familiarize yourself with the entire Settings interface. Pay particular attention to the Account, System, and Power & Startup areas, but do be sure to look through all of it: There’s an incredible array of often-confusing options in there.

More soon.

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