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 combination of Windows 7 and Windows 8. The taskbar is simple and straightforward. The desktop consists of your icons and a wallpaper.
For most people, the default settings are perfect, especially since you can change the wallpaper and customize the colors on the Start menu and taskbar. However, for customization enthusiasts, making the desktop look “great” is very important. You’ve probably seen articles on the web where there are people show off your custom desktops and you may have wondered how they can achieve that aspect.
Well, in this article I will show you how you can customize Windows 10 to look completely different from the default look. For example, here was my original Windows 10 desktop before I started customizing it:
Very standard and nothing exciting happens here. After playing around with the programs I’ll mention below, I got my desktop to look like this, which isn’t great, but it’s okay to spend only about half an hour.
As you can see, I have a custom sidebar on the right with links to my favorite Windows locations, some custom links with icons on the left instead of the normal desktop icons, a custom Windows start menu 10, weather information at the bottom right, a fun-looking circle indicating the current time and a small search box to quickly use Google. As I mentioned, this only took me about 30 minutes to do and makes your desktop look unique.
Of course, if you want these amazing looking custom desktops, you’ll need to spend a little more time. When it comes to customizing Windows, there are a couple of very popular programs that 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 work very well. There are many other programs besides the ones I will mention here, but they are not as reliable.
Where to start customizing?
So how do you get started? Well, there are many different aspects of Windows that you can customize individually and this is how these professional customizers make your work teams look great. There is no magic way to install a program and change everything. In my opinion, here are the best ways to customize Windows:
- Get a custom wallpaper that is the exact resolution of your screens. This is the easiest step.
- Then customize your desktop with interactive information or widgets. For this, we will use Rain gauge.
- Customize the Windows 10 start menu using Home10.
- Customize window frames, taskbar, title bars, and more. with Windows shutters
- Use other programs such as You close i 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 host of programs you can buy, but I only recommend the ones I mentioned earlier. I bought the whole package for $ 50 just to try each one and see which ones were good.
The other reason I really like Stardock is because they have an accompanying website WinCustomize which includes lots of additional options for all your programs. For example, if you purchase DeskScapes and want to have a high-definition video as your wallpaper, you can find it hundreds of “dreams” on the WinCustomize site. I thought DeskScapes would be a contrived app, but it turned out really cool.
I won’t go into much detail on how to use Stardock programs because they explain themselves. They all have almost the same interface to configure the settings and 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 to choose the settings of the other program.
Rain gauge is an incredibly small program that can transform your desktop in minutes. Needless to say, Rainmeter is only used to add content to your desktop. It does not change any visual style in Windows, such as the Start menu or the taskbar or window frames. All it does is allow you to add “skins”, which are like widgets, to your desktop.
To get started with Rainmeter, go ahead and download beta version 4.x. Choose Standard installation when the Settings dialog box appears.
Leave all default settings and complete the installation. Rainmeter also has one fantastic manual this explains exactly how to use the program in detail. Once installed, you’ll see some applications automatically appear on your desktop. This is the default version of Illustro.
Read the manual to understand how to add, remove and use skins. The next thing you want to do is download custom skins and then mix and match them. Each Rainmeter pack will include several skins, but you can only enable the ones you want or like. You can then enable certain skins from other packages to combine them. See the Find out page to find skins.
When you find something you like, go ahead and click the Download button in the right sidebar. You may need to scroll a bit before viewing the file download devianArt button. Make sure the file is a .rmskin file and not a ZIP file. Now just double click on the file and the file Rainmeter skin installer will appear.
Just click Install and it’s good to go! You should automatically see all the skins that appear on your desktop. To remove a specific skin, right-click on it and choose Unload the skin.
Some versions have several variants, which you can access by right-clicking and choosing Variants. A variant is just a different way to show that particular skin. To edit the code, you can choose Edit the skin. Although it is a code, it is not difficult to manually edit a skin. You can read the manual for instructions on how to do this.
You will have to go through trial and error when downloading Rainmeter skins because sometimes they don’t always work, especially if they are a little bigger. I came across a bunch of packages where the weather skin had stopped working because the API had changed from the data provider, but the skin had not been updated.
In general, using Rainmeter and specific Stardock applications, you can customize Windows in a completely different and unique way. For even more discretion, you can download icon packs to customize all of your icons. Unfortunately, the Stardock IconPackager app is not yet compatible with Windows 10. If you have any suggestions, feel free to comment. Enjoy!