Windows 10 itself isn’t all that bad. It has a modern interface where everything is mostly flat and colorful. The Start Menu is a mixture of Windows 7 and Windows 8. The taskbar is simple and straightforward. The desktop consists of your icons and wallpaper.
For most people, the default settings are fine, especially since you can change the wallpaper and customize the colors of the Start menu and taskbar. However, for the customization enthusiast, it is very important that the desktop looks â€œcoolâ€. You’ve probably seen articles on the Internet in which people showcase their personalized desktops, and you might be wondering how they might look like this.
Well, in this article, I’ll show you how you can customize Windows 10 to look completely different from the default. For example, here’s my original Windows 10 desktop before I started customizing it:
Very standard and nothing interesting happens here. By playing around with the programs I’m going to mention below, I was able to get my desktop to look like this, which is not very good, but ok to spend only about half an hour.
As you can see, I have a custom sidebar on the right with links to my favorite places in Windows, some custom links with icons on the left instead of the usual desktop icons, a custom Windows 10 Start menu, some weather info in the bottom right – cool a circle with the current time and a small search field for quick Google use. As I mentioned, it only took me 30 minutes and it makes your desktop unique.
Of course, if you want those amazing looking personalized desktops, you have to spend a little more time. When it comes to customizing Windows, there are a couple of programs that are very popular and have been around for a long time. This is good because they are updated frequently and integrate very well with Windows, which means your computer will still run smoothly. There are many other programs in addition to the ones I will mention here, but they are not as reliable.
Where to start the allocation?
So where do you start? Well, there are many different aspects of Windows that you can tweak individually, which is why professional customizers make their desktops look so cool. There is no magic way to install one program and change everything. In my opinion, here are the best ways to customize Windows:
- Get a custom wallpaper with the exact resolution for your screen (s). This is the easiest step.
- Then customize your desktop with informational or interactive widgets. We will be using Rainmeter for this.
- Customize the Windows 10 Start menu with Start10
- Customize window frames, taskbar, title bars, and more using Windows Blinds
- Uses other programs, such as Fences and DeskScapes, for additional customization if desired.
You will notice that all programs except Rainmeter are owned by Stardock. They have a whole range of programs that you can purchase, but I only recommend the ones I mentioned above. I bought the entire package for $ 50 to try each one and see which fit.
Another reason I really like Stardock is that they have a companion website, WinCustomize, which includes many additional options for all of their programs. For example, if you buy DeskScapes and want to use HD video as your desktop background, you can find hundreds of â€œDreamsâ€ on the WinCustomize site. I thought DeskScapes would be a tricky app, but it turned out to be really cool.
I will not go into the details of using the Stardock programs because they are self-explanatory. They all have almost the same interface for setting parameters, they recognize when another Stardock program is installed and work together.
For example, when using Start10 and WindowsBlinds, two programs that can modify the Start menu, each program has options for choosing options from the other program.
Rainmeter is an amazingly small program that can transform your desktop in minutes. It’s worth noting that Rainmeter is only for adding content to your desktop. It does not change any visual styles in Windows, such as the Start menu, taskbar, or window frames. All it does is allow you to add widget-like “skins” to your desktop.
To get started with Rainmeter, download the 4.x beta. In the Installation dialog box that opens, select Standard Installation.
Leave all the default settings and complete the installation. Rainmeter also has a fantastic tutorial that explains in detail how to use the program. After installation, you will see that some skins will automatically appear on your desktop. This is the default Illustro skin.
Be sure to read the guide to understand how to add, remove and use skins. The next thing you need to do is upload your own skins and then mix and match them. Each Rainmeter package will contain multiple skins, but you can only include the ones you like. Then you can include specific skins from other mix and match packages. Visit the Discover page to find skins.
When you find what you like, click the Download button on the right sidebar. You may need to scroll down a bit before you see the Download button on devianArt. Make sure it’s a .rmskin file and not a ZIP archive. Now you just double click the file and the Rainmeter skins installer will appear.
Just hit “Install” and you’re done! You should automatically see all skins appear on your desktop. To remove a specific skin, just right-click it and select Unload Skin.
Some skins have multiple options that you can access by right-clicking and choosing Options. Variant is just another way of displaying that particular skin. To edit the code, you can select Edit Skin. Despite the fact that this is code, manually editing the skin is a snap. You can read the manual to learn how to do this.
You will have to go through some trial and error when downloading Rainmeter skins because sometimes they don’t always work, especially if they are a little older. I came across a bunch of packages where the weather skin stopped working because the API was changed from the data provider, but the skin was not updated.
Overall, by using Rainmeter and certain Stardock apps, you can actually tweak Windows to look completely different and unique. If you want to get even more hardcore, you can download icon packs to customize all your icons. Unfortunately Stardock’s IconPackager does not support Windows 10 yet. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!