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Desktop organization ranges from exceptionally beautiful to a visual pox. While some avoid desktop clutter like the plague, others are completely comfortable downloading files and letting them fall where they may. That’s fine… until you lose an important file to the rubble.

For this reason, I’m a huge fan of Rainmeter, and you should be too. Not only does Rainmeter provide a fantastic, free outlet for customization aficionados, it can also be used as an impressive organization tool as well. Read on to get your desktop in order using Rainmeter!

1. Pick a Clean, Orderly Wallpaper

While Rainmeter is an impressive tool in its own right, it’s nothing without a well thought out wallpaper. In some respect, the wallpaper is the backbone of the desktop. That’s why choosing a wallpaper meant either to organize or to simplify your desktop A Simple Guide to Rainmeter: The Windows Desktop Customization Tool A Simple Guide to Rainmeter: The Windows Desktop Customization Tool Rainmeter is the ultimate tool for customizing your Windows desktop with interactive wallpapers, desktop widgets, and more. Our simple guide will help you create your own personal desktop experience in no time. Read More work space is crucial.

Simple Desktops does both. A personal favorite in terms of wallpaper repositories, Simple Desktops provides just that: minimally styled wallpapers which can work as sectioning tools or simple backgrounds. What do I mean? Some wallpapers naturally evoke divides in their design, which is perfect for an organization wizard. For example, the following artistic wallpaper…

brain desktop wallpaper

…was turned into an impressive, organized desktop by a Reddit user:

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reddit brain rainmeter

Other sectioned wallpapers, like the following, can help organize your desktop files and programs even without Rainmeter:

room wallpaper

Considering we have Rainmeter at our disposal, I’ll use and elaborate on the following:

plug wallpaper

There’s a variety of options you can choose to modify this background. You can even create your own sectioned wallpaper from an already existing one!

The above video uses Photoshop An Idiot's Guide to Photoshop, Part 1: Easy Photoshop An Idiot's Guide to Photoshop, Part 1: Easy Photoshop At first glance Photoshop is confusing, but you can quickly be on your way to becoming a Photoshop guru. This is our introductory guide on how to do basic functions in Photoshop. Read More , but you can use whichever image-editing software you are most comfortable with. Whatever you decide, remember to keep the organization in mind.

2. Find or Create Icons for Common Programs

While there isn’t much of a difference between using desktop programs or Rainmeter icons, Rainmeter icons How to Create Custom Rainmeter Icons and Application Launchers How to Create Custom Rainmeter Icons and Application Launchers Rainmeter is a Windows desktop customization tool with countless applications. Follow our step-by-step guide to create an interactive desktop icon and application launcher. Read More provides a wider range of placement and function opportunities.

There are also many icon types you can use, all simple to code, which will allow you to call up programs and folders with ease.

  • Icon Drawers — Typically used to maintain a clutter-free desktop, icon drawers will pop up onto your screen by clicking on or mousing over certain visual indicators.
  • Simple Icons — These icons fulfill the exact same function as desktop programs, though with a more unique look.
  • Game Launcher — Another advent of Rainmeter is game launchers, which allow you to view your Steam library (along with most other game libraries) and play games directly from your desktop.
  • Subtle Icons — A bit more complex than the previous types, subtle icons typically blend into the background in order to better conceal icon choices and program launchers.
  • Graphic Icons — Not to be confused with hidden icons, these icons will typically pop some sort of graphic, either full-screen or in part, on mouse-over. These icons are typically custom-made for specific wallpapers.

Rainmeter icons are capable of quite a lot as well. You can access programs, games, specific files, and specific folders through the same icon button.

rainmeter icon showcase

You may have to edit a few files in order to get them working, but the process for modifying files is the same every time. Luckily, Rainmeter has volumes of information available online to do just that. Usually, all you have to do is right-click a skin, select Edit skin, and change a few address locations and parameters.

Subtle Icons are more difficult to find, so you have to create your own. It’s easy enough to do if you have a prior image editing experience, but it does take some time in order to get absolutely spot on. In the following example, I have created image skins for our previous wallpaper option. Then, I added simple animation (all available by default) to create a mouse-over skin effect for browsers.

mouseover icon showcase

You could replicate this effect throughout all images on your wallpaper. Or you could find a wallpaper more conducive to sectioning and place icons there. You’ll find plenty of online resources that provide fantastic and beautiful sectioned wallpapers Get Things Done! 5 Ideas To Make The Best Productive Use Of Your Desktop Get Things Done! 5 Ideas To Make The Best Productive Use Of Your Desktop People love their desktops! Whether you're on a Mac, Windows or Linux computer, the desktop is an open space that isn't pre-defined by a rigid structure. Unlike the interfaces of mobile devices or Windows 8's... Read More  to fit your needs.

The main difference between creating an organized Rainmeter setup and creating any other is: intent. Think of all the programs you typically use throughout a days work and create or choose icons accordingly.

3. Complete Rainmeter Suites

If you aren’t a fan of design, but are a fan of organization, there are plenty of Rainmeter suites (all-in-one Rainmeter skin packs) which allow you to load an entire skin collection with a few clicks.

NXT-OS is a fantastic example, wherein users have a selection of built-in applications for you to choose.

nxt-os desktop example

The creators of NXT-OS also created an unofficial Rainmeter skin based around the popular online multiplayer Overwatch as well.

reaver desktop overwatch nxt-os

While this option won’t allow for as much functionality as creating skins from scratch, they provide a fantastic template for users. Best of all, there’s no shortage of fantastic Rainmeter skins The Best Rainmeter Skins for a Minimalist Desktop The Best Rainmeter Skins for a Minimalist Desktop Rainmeter is a power tool for customizing Windows with skins and suites. We have compiled the best Rainmeter has to offer for an impressive and minimalist Windows desktop. Read More  created by users.

That includes both individual skin and whole Rainmeter themes as well, so you can spend hours scouring through the folds for the perfect skin.

Final Results

Here’s a typical desktop, equipped with default Windows background and files:

desktop regular

Here is an updated version of the same Windows desktop, with our previously selected background and additional Rainmeter layout:

rainmeter organized desktop

The only skin this layout uses (other than those previously mentioned) is the game drawer portion of the NXT-OS theme. You can use individual portions of other Rainmeter suites in addition to skins. While the above example is a bit extreme for the typical desktop, it’s a good example of how far ranging Rainmeter themes can be.

You’ll note the two oversized icons on the top of the window. Not only do these two icons open our Documents and Pictures folders respectively, we can also drag and drop individual desktop files into these icons for extra organization abilities.

drag and drop rainmeter

It’s done using a simple Rainmeter drag-and-drop plugin as well and simulates a desktop folder exactly.

Collectivize Your Desktop!

With such fantastic software like Rainmeter at your disposal, there’s no reason to suffer from a cluttered desktop 15 Desktops That Reveal How We Work at MakeUseOf 15 Desktops That Reveal How We Work at MakeUseOf Does your desktop reveal how you work or how you think? Is it clean or cluttered with shortcuts? Here's how the MakeUseOf team uses its Windows, Mac, and Linux desktops. Read More . This is especially the case for those who use their desktop for daily file arrangement. PC users often rue the day they have to organize computer files and folders. Now’s as good a time as any!

Any other Rainmeter functions you’d like to know about? Let us know in the comments below!

Image Credit: gmstockstudio via Shutterstock.com

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  1. MinMin
    July 6, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    No idea if this will get a response but here's hoping. When extracting the AMD Sierra OS, it's just a .dmg, not the .vmdk. I tried mounting it with a virtual ODD but it rejects it. Did I just download the wrong thing? Mind helping me get through installing via a .dmg?

    Thanks in advance! I appreciate the write up either way.