Make Your Computer Truly Personal With These Top Customization Tools

Laptop Sketch   Make Your Computer Truly Personal With These Top Customization ToolsWhat 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

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.”

RocketDock Stack Docklet   Make Your Computer Truly Personal With These Top Customization Tools

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.’

It’s also worth mentioning that RocketDock isn’t the only dock for Windows. ObjectDock is another free and very popular dock that I would recommend looking into.

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

Fences1   Make Your Computer Truly Personal With These Top Customization Tools

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?

Launchy

Launchy   Make Your Computer Truly Personal With These Top Customization Tools

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

Rainlendar   Make Your Computer Truly Personal With These Top Customization Tools

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

Rainmeter Example   Make Your Computer Truly Personal With These Top Customization Tools

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.

April 2010 Desktop 6   Make Your Computer Truly Personal With These Top Customization Tools

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.

Stickynotes   Make Your Computer Truly Personal With These Top Customization Tools

But that seems a little inefficient, so instead I use a program like PNotes or Hott Notes.

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.

Current Desktop   Make Your Computer Truly Personal With These Top Customization Tools

The wallpaper a photo of a Red Panda taken by me, the dock is rocket dock with the theme “simple dark” and Lucid icons; with Rainlendar on the side.

Image Credits: Sketch Of Laptop On White Background [Text Not Apart Of Original] via Shutterstock, Desktop Customized With Rainmeter via Flickr, Yellow Notes On A Laptop Screen via Shutterstock

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44 Comments -

0 votes

Anonymous

i’ve already used most of the customization tools shown here, it’s hard for me to find the balance between simple and functional or complex and hard to use, my desktop is most of the time with apps so i chose finally to use Rainmeter with a pair of widgets just for an enhanced time, date and search tools, a nice background, and shortcuts to my most used folders.

Anyways, it’s always nice to see all this info grouped up, so i can reread it and others can learn to customize their computers.

0 votes

Brandon Clark

I like having only rocketdock on my desktop, with autohide on.
I tried rainmeter for awhile, but I found it was just clutter on my desktop that I never bothered to read most of the time. it’s fun to play with all the different themes/skins/etc that you can find on places like Deviantart, but that’s about it.. novelty ran out pretty quick when the only time I look at my desktop is to launch another application. Anything by Stardock is worth checking out if you want to customize pretty much everything in windows.

0 votes

Yang Yang Li

Great article with very useful software suggestions! I will keep this page in reference in case I ever decide to go all out and make my desktop unrecognizable as a Windows desktop. Right now I have a minimal desktop with icons at %300 size. 2-inch tall icons FTW!

0 votes

Boni Oloff

I try to make my system as clear and clean as possible, because of slow spec..
If it is to much load unused application, like interface modification, it can be slowed down a little. So i think it is better to make the Windows 7 as clean as possible.

0 votes

Roystan Ang

Wow! Thanks for the tips
Stardock Objectdock is not in the list?

0 votes

Aaron Couch

I just included one dock and RocketDock made the cut. Objectdock is certainly another great free option though! Thanks for commenting!

0 votes

john

rainlendar, launchy and autohotkey… why more… I’d love to stop seeing those useless titlebars though… haven’t found how to really remove them

0 votes

Márcio Guerra

Nice one! I’ll try to try it, if it makes any sense, eheheh!

Márcio Guerra

0 votes

Guest

I nominate the open-source app Classic Shell (classicshell.sourceforge.net) to this list. Not everyone appreciates the new Start menu in Windows 7 or some of the “missing” features in 7′s Explorer and IE9 familiar to users of older Windows editions. Classic Shell replaces the “new” Start menu and the “new” Explorer and IE9 interface with the old-school setup. I mostly use the Classic Start menu feature since I prefer the Windows Classic look, something I know I’d miss in W8 which is why I’m sticking with 7.

For external customization, if you’ve got the cash check out Computer Choppers. You can actually get a laptop decked out with Swarovski crystals and keys made from pearl. Prices start in the range of “most-people-will-never-afford-this” to “GDP of Earth.” :-)

0 votes

Aaron Couch

Classic Shell is really awesome. Thanks for the suggestion. I just recently installed in on my Windows 8 PC and really like the added functions. Thanks for commenting!

0 votes

Baibhav Bista

RocketDock is very very good

0 votes

Jon Smith

oh cool, I really want to try rainmeter

0 votes

druv vb

Thats a nice article. I tried RocketDock some years ago. But was causing issues with fullscreen applications and games too often. AquaDock and YzDock are also good and very lightweight. Good for old laptops / PCs.
But since then I moved to RK Launcher. Its light on resources and memory. Doesn’t interfere with games and apps. And most of the plugins from RocketDock, ObjectDock and YzDock work well with it. And I also use the Stack Docket in RK Launcher.
For searches, its Windows 7 Start Menu search for programs and Everything for files and folders. And to keep my desktop clean, I have only 2 icons. My Computer and Recycle Bin.

0 votes

Terafall

I don’t know why but I prefer Xwidget than Rainmeter

0 votes

Chaos Emperor

rainmeter sure looks great

0 votes

Chaos Emperor

I love rocket dog and rainmeter

0 votes

ha14

0 votes

Anonymous

i think one such similar post was already written by you in which you told about launchy and rocket dock but i’m not 100% sure.

0 votes

Douglas Mutay

These are very good! will definitevely try one or two of them and see. i hope they won’t mess up my windows ;-)

0 votes

Michael L

I have been using Rainmeter for quite some time. Now I prefer my desktop clean and I use only the windows 8 tiles.

0 votes

Erlis Dhima

I’ve used some of this customization tools.
But about the article, I would say only: Wow! Just great! XD

0 votes

Anonymous

Thanks dude, awesome stuff this one…was already using fences and stardock, now using railendar…thanks dude.

0 votes

Alan Wade

Great article!
I am heavily into customizing and tweaking my system. I have tried a couple of your suggestions and am going to try a couple of the rest.
My favorites that I keep falling back on (albeit not free) are Windowblinds and IconPackager. One thing I just cannot get past is having loads of gadgets and icons on my desktop, there isnt one icon on mine and although I love trying new suggestions for customizing, I dont like my desktop cluttered.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

I love customizing my computer. My friends, especially the not tech-savvy ones always ask me to ‘prettify’ their computers.
I’m familiar with all apps you mentioned, though I don’t use Rainlendar or Rainmeter.Rocketdock is great but Nexus has more effects (if you have more RAM to spare), I changed between the two every few months
My makeover includes changing the whole iconset, tweaking aero, changing the soundset (old videogames chip and tunes work great), changing the logon screen, start orb, grabbing a nice visual style from Deviantart, etc.To keep my screen from clutter, I autohide the dock and the taskbar.
You might want to take a look at these, a list of lesser known softwares but nice additions to your arsenal:
Winlaunch or Vipad
Vishal Gupta’s Aerotuner and Task Pane changer
SKwire’s Lucidity
Frank’s Context Menu Image changer(32-bit only)
Start Orb Changer or ViOrb
Overlap Wallpaper
7stack or Standalone Stacks
Very popular one: Fences. Too bad the 2.0 isn’t free anymore.
I combine several programs to create a new desktop every few months.

0 votes

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Sorry, forgot you’ve already included Fences.
By the way, if you don’t like Launchy, EnsoWords is worth trying.

0 votes

Nikhil Chandak

great ways to customize !!
I have tried some of them ..
gonna try the others

0 votes

Gravity Dead

haha I am addicted to this customizing stuff
but the sad part is I ‘often’ end up downloading some virus and then *BAM* restore, everything back to the original windows, wait a month or two and then start again :p

0 votes

mike

why don’t you tell us what themes/skins you have shown us here??????????

0 votes

Vivek Kumar

i concur would like to know the themes shown here.

0 votes

Vivek Kumar

Gr8 article, Rainmeter and fences are nice tools for personalization.

0 votes

Adrian Rea

Nice article, there are many customisations that can make windows look different. I am just going to play devil’s advocate as the title suggested changing your computer to look cool and functional. If you have the nerve or the intrigue, why not change OS? Sorry Windows fans but I feel that a great customisation is to use something like Ubuntu Linux with Compiz to make effects like this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9gXq1GyKpw
Or other customisations such as http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWI2EaYdQIg&feature=fvwrel most of which are available by default

0 votes

Anonymous

I love an organized desktop. Fences is great because it prevents my icons from shifting around against my will. It’s really great.

0 votes

tamm

I choose “nothing”. In Windows 7 I create a folder called “a” in my second partition. I fill it full of shortcuts to the applications I use. I right click on the taskbar, go to Toolbars, and select new toolbars. Windows pops up with ‘Choose a folder’, and I select “a”. It creates a (very small) location on the taskbar that, when clicked, scrolls up with all the shortcuts. Very simple and elegant, an leaves the desktop clear for the backgrounds I run as a slideshow.

0 votes

Anonymous

Try dextop it’s amazing

0 votes

Shiva Kunwar

I always thought of making my computer look even more classy and stylish after installing Object dock. Thanks to Make Use OF team, for such a wonderful article with such great applications and softwares.

0 votes

LeRoy

Like all of ur ideas, but the whole idea behind a sticky Note is a quick jot-down with Pen & note…Crawler desktop notes is just that easy…No frills, bell or whistles…

0 votes

Walter Askew

Great Information, lots of things for me to try. Fences is no longer free, but it was worth the 10.00. Thanks for the info.

0 votes

Tentilly

Okay good list. But missing best one? Splinter? I before used to use Rocketdock plus Fences but Splinter does better work for me. Much more customize with Splinter.

0 votes

yarasa GR67

Nice tools, but i don’t know if are really necessary…

0 votes

Rahul Yadav

coloolllllllllllllllllll

0 votes

tyson granger

That surely helps makes every task easily searchable!

0 votes

Giggity Goebbels

I really rather just use windows 7 defaults.this is messing the desktop up truly speaking

0 votes

Giggity Goebbels

What a bout the bing desktop that everyone hates lol

0 votes

harley

I spend a lot of time customizing my desktop. I have 2 monitors, one larger which I use for browsing which has Rocketdock with all my shortcuts, the smaller monitor has a simple calendar, recycle bin, start menu, taskbar and a sticky note. I have Rainmeter installed but am not using it right now, I found I didn’t look at it at all.