By itself, Windows 10 doesn’t look so bad. It has a modern interface where everything is mostly flat and colorful. The Start Menu is a mix of Windows 7 and Windows 8. The taskbar is very simple and straightforward. The desktop includes your icons and a wallpaper.
For most people, the default settings are just fine, especially since you can change the background image and customize the colors of the Start Menu and taskbar. However, for customization enthusiasts, making the desktop look like Cool is very important. You may have seen articles on the web where people show off their custom desktops and you may have wondered how they were able to get that look.
Well, in this article, I will show you how you can customize Windows 10 to appear completely different from the default look and feel. For example, here’s my original Windows 10 desktop before I started customizing it:
Very standard and nothing exciting going on here. After playing around with the programs I will mention below, I managed to get my desktop to look like this, which isn’t great, but OK spent only about half an hour.
As you can see, I have a custom sidebar on the right side with links to my favorite Windows locations, some custom links with icons on the left side instead of machine icons my regular desktop, a custom Windows 10 Start Menu, some weather info at the bottom right, an interesting-looking circle that shows the current time, and a small search box to quickly use it. use Google. As I mentioned, this only took me about 30 minutes to do and it makes your desktop look unique.
Of course, if you want those amazing looking custom desktops, you’ll have to spend a little more time. When it comes to customizing Windows, there are a few programs that are very popular and have been around for a long time. This is good because they are updated regularly and they integrate really well with Windows, which means your computer will still run very smoothly. There are many other programs besides the ones I will mention here, but they are not nearly as reliable.
Where to start customizing?
So how should you start? Well, there are different aspects of Windows that you can customize individually, and that’s how professional customizers make their desktops look great. There is no magic way to install a program and change everything. In my opinion, these are the best ways to customize Windows:
- Get a custom wallpaper with the correct resolution for your screen(s). This is the easiest step.
- Next, customize your desktop with information or interactive widgets. For this we will use Rainmeter.
- Customize Windows 10 Start Menu with Start10.
- Customize window frames, taskbars, title bars, etc with Windows Blinds
- Use other programs like Fences and DeskScapes for more customization, if desired
You will notice that all the programs, except Rainmeter, are from a company called Stardock. They have a whole set of programs you can buy, but I only recommend the ones I mentioned above. I bought the whole package for $50 just to try each one and see which one was good.
The other reason I really like Stardock is because they have a bundled website called WinCustomize that includes tons of extra options for all of their programs. For example, if you buy DeskScapes and want an HD video as your desktop background, you can find hundreds of Dreams Dreams games on the WinCustomize website. I thought DeskScapes would be a gimmicky app, but it turns out to be great.
I won’t go into the details of how to use the Stardock programs because they are pretty self-explanatory. They all have the same interface for configuring settings and they recognize when another Stardock program is installed and working together.
For example, when using Start10 and WindowsBlinds, the two programs can change the Start Menu, each with options to choose settings from the other.
Rainmeter is an amazingly small program that can transform your desktop in minutes. It is worth noting that Rainmeter is only for adding content to your desktop. It doesn’t change any of the visual styles in Windows like the Start Menu or the taskbar or the window pane. All it does is let you add skins, like widgets, to your desktop.
To get started with Rainmeter, go ahead and download the 4.x Beta Release. Select Standard settings when the Setup dialog box appears.
Leave all default settings and complete the installation. Rainmeter also has a great tutorial that explains exactly how to use the program in detail. Once installed, you will see several skins automatically appear on your desktop. This is the default Illustro interface.
Make sure to read the instructions to understand how to add, remove, and use skins. The next thing you’ll want to do is download custom skins, and then mix and match them. Each Rainmeter pack comes with multiple skins, but you can only activate the ones you want or like. You can then enable certain skins from other packages to mix and match. Check out the Explore page for skins.
When you find something you like, go ahead and click the Download button in the right sidebar. You may have to scroll down a bit before you see it Download button on devianArt. Make sure that the file is a .rm Da file and not a ZIP archive. Now you just need to double click on the file and Rainmeter Skin Installer will pop up.
Just click install, erect and you good to go! You will automatically see all skins appear on your desktop. To remove a specific skin, just right click on it and select Skin removal.
Some skins have multiple variations, which you can access by right-clicking and selecting Variant. A variation is just a different way to show that particular skin. To edit the code, you can select Skin editing. Although it’s code, it’s not difficult to edit the interface yourself. You can read the manual for instructions on how to do this.
You’ll have to go through some trial and error when downloading Rainmeter skins because sometimes they don’t always work, especially if they’re a bit old. I’ve run into a bunch of packages where the weather skin has stopped working because the API has changed from the data provider, but the skin hasn’t been updated.
Overall, using Rainmeter and specific Stardock apps, you can really customize Windows to look completely different and unique. If you want to get even more, you can download icon packs to customize all your icons. Unfortunately, the IconPackager app from Stardock doesn’t support Windows 10 yet. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!
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