No matter how great your desktop background is, you still get bored with it after some time. The idea of a static image just gets old, and no matter how often you change it, let’s face it, this is not really exciting. But what if you could customize your desktop, so that it will be more than just an image? That would be a pretty cool idea, right? Well, today we’ll show you how to do this.

But why stop at customizing? It’s true, a nicer aspect of the screen is a big deal, but why not go one step further and add some extra functionality to your computer? The following programs will do exactly this: customize your desktop, but also give it some extra functionality at the same time. What to point out before we move on: do not use them all at the same time because they will slow your computer down and some might not work with others, and you will just end up with errors.


Top 5 Desktop Customization Apps

1. Rainmeter

Have you seen the movie “Minority Report”? The one where Tom Cruise catches criminals before they do anything and…well, I’m not going to ruin the movie for those who haven’t seen it, but what I say is this: how cool is that display that he uses? A touchscreen transparent display is awesome. Samsung has managed to come close with those awesome transparent displays, but it’s not quite there yet.

Ever since I’ve watched that movie, I wanted my computer desktop to ressemble that display. Although I don’t have a touchscreen display, I can still create that awesome looking futuristic layout with a great utility called Rainmeter. This program allows you to install desktop widgets and create your own Minority Report screen.

You might think that creating such a layout would take a lot of time, right? Wrong. Rainmeter allows you to download desktop elements and arrange them on your screen fairly simple. In fact, the only limitation I found is my own imagination. After downloading the Rainmeter client, I started to search for desktop elements, and I found plenty. After fiddling with them for a few minutes, I came up with a cool looking design, that has both awesome looks and great functionality.


Also, after adding all the animations and all the widgets, I was pleased to see that they are very resource friendly, only utilizing about 4% of the CPU power and about 500MB of extra RAM. Of course, these numbers can vary depending on your system’s configuration and on the number of elements you will add to your screen. This utility can be run on just about any Windows OS, starting with XP and it even works on Windows 8, giving you more customization options.

As I have mentioned, screen widgets can be found very easily on the web. Three themes are available on the Rainmeter website to get you started, but a quick search revealed that there are lots of elements in other places such as:

After you find the ones you like, download the .rmskin file and install it by double clicking it (simple, hugh?). Afterwards, you will find the installed skin in your Rainmeter client, from where you can add any element you like. Also, you can add elements from different skins, so you can create a truly one of kind desktop. When you find the widget that you want to install, click on the .ini file and select “Load”, and it will appear on your screen. This is pretty much the entire process.

rainmeter 2

2. RocketDock

Although not as spectacular as Rainmeter, this utility allows Windows users to use a shortcut dock, similar to the one on Macs. The dock can be customized by adding transition effects, lighting effects and icon effects. Although simple, the dock really gives a lot of functionality because you can add any shortcuts and even video windows.

If you are wondering how many resources it consumes, you will be thrilled to know that it has almost no impact on your computer (in my case, about 10-50 RAM increase in usage, depending on how many shortcuts are added to it). What I enjoy most about it is the fact that I can minimize windows to the dock and because it’s next to no resource usage I can install it on older, slower computers without rendering them useless. Have a look at the video below.

3. Stardock Fences

If managing your desktop icons is something that you usually forget to do, this utility is a godsend. Fences allows you to create certain areas on your desktop (called “Fences”) for different icons, such as:

  • Shortcuts
  • Utilities
  • Daily use

Apart from the obvious benefit of organizing your icons, Fences also makes your desktop look professional and clean. The process of adding items to fences is very simple but I like the most is the automated sorting process. For instance, you install a new game or a new software and, as you know, most programs create desktop shortcuts. Well, you can create a rule that automatically adds application shortcuts to one particular fence, or folders to another. Isn’t this great?

desktop customization

Yes, it is awesome, but wait, there’s more. Fences has really come a long way from the day it was created, and now has some really nice features that help you further customize your screen and make it the perfect work environment. Here is a quick list of some features that Fences has:

  • Fences fade when you double click on a blank space of your screen and reappear when you double click again (you can also pick which fade and which stay active).
  • You can add pages of fences that you can easily browse through by dragging your mouse from one corner to the other of the screen.
  • You can add shades to some of your fences to make them stand out and to make them more accessible.

4. Thinkinbytes Desktop Customization

Apart from Rainmeter, the Cube Desktop NXT is the most amazing desktop customization app here. It brings the most dramatic but wonderful visual effect as it transforms your ordinary desktop into a cube, where each side represents another desktop, each with its own background image and with its own icons. Pretty neat, huh?

As cool as this sounds, this programs will eat up quite some memory, and even on my 4GB of DDR3 memory and Core i5 processor running at 3.2 GHz, it seemed a bit laggy at times. There is no doubt that this program should not be installed on slower computers, but if you PC can handle it, then it is an awesome program.

If, on the other hand you do not have such a powerful computer, then DeskMotive should do the job. This service is similar to the Windows Vista DreamScene feature that allowed you to add video content as your desktop background. Unlike DreamScene, DeskMotive does not require a very powerful computer to run, the only limitation being that it does not work on 64 bits operating systems

Now you can customize your desktop like never before! Forget about wallpapers, these programs are the wallpapers of the future. They offer not only great looks, but also great productivity. The perfect duo to make your computer unique!

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I often wonder, where is technology heading? What do all of these advances mean for us and for our future? I sometimes miss the days when I didn’t know how to use a floppy disk, or how a computer CPU works, but now, until I find an answer to my questions, I’ll keep tracking these advances and show everything I find to those who share my interests.