So, I have this thing, I change my desktop at least once a week. When I say desktop, I don’t mean just wallpaper. I change everything you can see. This thing started when i first installed Windows Vista that was very user-friendly, and continued after putting Windows 7.
Unlike Sheldon, I LOVE that. Of course, it doesn’t come easy. I often post my desktop screenshots on Facebook and Twitter, and people always ask me where did I get this, or that, or what is this. So I decided to write about it, to explain to all interested what tools I use to customize my Windows 7. For starters, this is my current desktop and i will mention all the things i used.
If you’ve seen or you’re using Windows 7, you know there are not many customization options there. You can change sounds, colors, wallpapers, opacity. Okay, this is a lot more than others OS have, but still, you’re restricted. That’s why clever people thought of applications that patch your system and allow you to use 3rd party themes(that other clever people are making). There are several applications for that. I personally used Universal Theme Patcher and UXtheme Patcher. There are also random Theme managers available, but i never used those so can’t really recommend them. So, you download one of those apps, run it and patch your system files. Each of these apps will allow you to restore your patched files if or when you want to stop using 3rd party themes and return back to normal. Once you patched the system(i won’t explain how to do it, it’s really simple), you have to restart your computer so changes can be applied.
Patching your system is the easiest part. Now you have to pick a theme you want to use, among thousands of them. There are tons of websites offering free themes and visual styles, but i prefer DeviantArt. Here you can find really all kinds of styles, whatever you like. (I’ll be referring to DA a lot, so you better bookmark it.) This is the theme i’m using right now. When you picked your theme, press download, of course. Once you downloaded it, you have to place it in Windows/Resources/Themes folder. Okay, let’s explain. You download the file from DA, unzip it(most of them are zipped), and search for theme folder. It is usually named after the theme itself. Now, you have to move that theme folder(containing system files in en-us folders) and the .vs file in folder mentioned above. Confusing? A picture is worth a thousand words.
1) Unzip the file wherever you want
2) Open the Theme folder
3) Move the folder and Windows Theme file into Resources/Themes folder
To active a theme, you can double click the Windows Theme File, or you can go right click on desktop and choose it from the list. Sometimes you’ll have to install special fonts that theme will use. That is easy, just double-click on font file and it will install. There’s also way to customize navigation buttons and explorer frame, but I never tried ’cause i’m too scared, haha. Here’s link to awesome tweaking apps for Windows 7.
2) Icons and Start Orb
You might notice my pretty Arsenal start button. Yes, it can also be changed. All you need is Start Orb Changer (download it here) and .bmp file with 3 orbs(plenty of them here). It is pretty easy, you just navigate to .bmp file and click Change. The taskbar will then disappear and reappear with new start orb.
Icons, icons. I download them all from, you guessed it, DeviantArt. Make sure you download .ico file, that’s the only one that can be used in Windows. I change my icons manually. Let me show you in photos again.
1) Right click on icon you’d like to change. And then right click on the application/program that this icon represents(I don’t know how to explain it better!). Choose Properties.
2) Navigate to Shortcut tab, click on Change Icon and find an icon you’d like to use. Then simply hit Apply.
3) You will notice it didn’t change. You have to right click on desktop, choose Personalize, click on Change Desktop Icons, change one of the icons(don’t have to change all) and hit Apply. Voila!
More about changing icons in Windows 7 here. (I can’t find the icons I’m using 😦 )
The lovely clock you see on my desktop, as well as album art and system information, are all a part of an app called Rainmeter. It’s designed for customizing your desktop, something like Desktop gadgets, but there’s a lot more styles to pick from. Download the app, install it and take some time to learn what is it all about(it comes with pre-installed theme). After that, head back to DeviantArt and try one of thousands of Rainmeter skins. The procedure is easy and logical. Download which one you like, install by double-clicking on .rms file and pick where you want to put it. Almost every skin comes with instructions how to use it, how to customize it and stuff. I’m using Weather and Clock Panel, Flip Clock for system monitoring and RainPlayer for album art.
My favorite music player is Winamp, from the very beginning. There are not many themes these days for it. You might not even notice it on my screen shot. It’s just navigation buttons, you can download it here and find lots more here. There are also skins for other Media Players, too.
Hm, what else? I’m mostly using my own wallpapers, whether Arsenal or personal ones. There are lots of great ones on Deviantart too. Seriously, it’s a great site, bookmark it.
If you have any questions, please let me know, I will try to help 🙂
At the end, here are some of my desktop screenshots over time.