What does it mean to customize your computer? Does it mean to have the coolest looking desktop? Well, that’s part of it, but not completely. First off, you want your desktop to be functional. Not just “cool looking.” That said, customizing your desktop does have a key role in personalizing your computer. And also, since the desktop is a primary location for where we do our work, it tends to also be the home of many computer customization tools.
In this article we will take a look at some of the best and most functional tools to help you personalize your computer. Again, you don’t necessarily have to follow what other users do, but use the tools to make your system your own – that is a truly personalized computer.
Your Personal Computer, Mac Style
The dock on the Mac is one of the most envied features of Windows users. And perhaps you already knew that there are tools for Windows that can mimic this feature. If not, your mind will be opened to awesome new capabilities on your Windows computer.
RocketDock is not an uncommon topic here on MakeUseOf. It’s been featured in several articles, including my own, and rightfully so – it’s an awesome program. So why would you want to use RocketDock if you have never tried it before?
Well, besides being open to trying new things, it can really help clean up your desktop and keep things organized with the addition of Stack Docklet. Stack Docklet is a small add-on of sorts that allows you to “open” folders directly from RocketDock. In essence, you aren’t really opening the folder itself (although you can by clicking the arrow at the bottom), but creating a shortcut for it to appear in the form of a “stack.”
It is best described through an image. There are a lot of customizations of RocketDock including the themes of the icons and the dock itself, but I feel the Stack Docklet is one of the most useful changes. In my opinion, RocketDock wouldn’t be the same without it.’
Organize Your Desktop Icons
We’ve all seen that desktop that looked like every shortcut imaginable was on it. Let’s obliterate that image from our mind now and imagine a neatly organized desktop, customized by us.
Fences is the application that can do this for you. It works by organizing shortcuts based on type into clusters on your desktop. And with one click they all can “disappear.” It’s a pretty nifty little application and many MakeUseOf readers have already found it useful for their PC customization.
Launch Applications With Style
When using a dock, usually you’re limited a bit by the size. And you don’t want to overload it with every single application because that may not look very good. So how do you quickly access everything else that isn’t on your dock or being organized with Fences?
Aptly named, Launchy allows you to find and launch any program with a quick keyboard key stroke. It’s a fairly simple application, but still has several customization options.
Additional Desktop “Add-Ons”
There are two other programs that I recommend trying for even more customization for your computer. The level of function varies between them somewhat and they certainly aren’t equals. However I feel they provide a decent level of variance depending on your ambition to customize.
Rainlendar provides you with several options such as a calendar, to do list, clock and weather. These all seem basic, but combined with theming, it can add a nice touch to a clean desktop and provide you with some additional functionality as well.
Rainmeter has many more extensive features and can be customized more than you could imagine. I’ve dabbled with it, but I know even what I have done hasn’t been to its full capability. Ryan wrote a great article covering it, combined with Emerge Desktop. This is probably one of the biggest computer customizations you can make. If you have the time and patience, I encourage you to try Rainmeter. You will be customizing late into the night, but come 5.00AM, your desktop will look phenomenal.
Here’s an example of one of mine a couple years back.
Samurize is another similar program, but with settings that seem a little bit more difficult to configure than Rainmeter.
More Tools For Customization
Like I said in the beginning, customizing isn’t all about your desktop. There are tools (and more tools) for customizing your right-click menu, adjusting notifications and changing the appearance of windows and toolbars.
One customization that I like is adding sticky notes to your screen.
Conclusion – The Final Touches
With all of these tools, you are almost set up to have your computer completely personalized to your liking. There’s one thing missing though – themes, skins and wallpaper. We, at MakeUseOf, have actually shared some of our very own wallpaper. For themes and skins, there are some great sites to scan through. I’ll be honest, you’ll spend more time theming than anything else, so be careful with your time and be sure not to let it eat up too much of your time – I speak from experience. Nonetheless, it’s quite fun to find that perfect look.
Below is my current desktop. It’s simple, and not nearly as fancy as previous ones, but less heavy on resources, yet still functional.