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Desktop backgrounds are nice, but they’re a bit… well, static. It’s time to end all of that and make your desktop background move — with a video.

Several tools are available for this, each with slightly differing results. You should find that one of these works for you.

Select a Video for Your Desktop Background

Before you get started setting a video as a desktop background, however, you need to spend a few moments considering which video clip you wish to use.

Different types of videos are suitable for different purposes. For example, if you just want to enjoy your favorite movie while you work or browse the web, then by all means, choose a video of a suitable length.

If, however, you really want an eye-catching desktop background, then selecting a shorter clip would be more appropriate, especially if it’s something that will be striking when looped. Video clips and GIFs alike can be used.

1. Set a Background With PUSH Video Wallpaper

Available On: Windows

We reckon that the video wallpaper app gives the best results, and it’s easy to use. On the downside, it’s not free (it costs around $10) but you do get a free trial.

Begin by heading to the site and downloading PUSH Video Wallpaper. Run the EXE file to install, and then launch the app. Instantaneously, your desktop background will be transformed as the app runs, displaying a demo video clip on a loop.

To change this, open the PUSH Video Wallpaper item from the taskbar (you may need to double-click the desktop icon) and click the + symbol to browse for a new clip. You’ll spot a loop tool in the controls, along with a shuffle button, change video interval menu, and a volume/mute button — useful for controlling audio levels when you might prefer to be working! Playlists of videos can also be created.

The result is the smooth rendering of a video, in full-screen mode, as a desktop background, complete with app windows and icons sitting in the foreground. PUSH Video Wallpaper is certainly worth a try if you’re looking for a way to set a video as your desktop background.

2. Set a Desktop Background With VLC

Available On: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS

Another way creating a desktop background video is thanks to that most versatile of desktop media players, VLC media player. Available from www.videolan.org, VLC media player is available for all operating systems, which means that in theory, this method will work on Windows, macOS, Linux, even ChromeOS, BSD variants, and Solaris!

As a summary, or even a reminder, VLC media player can play any media format. It can also be used to create a streaming video server How to Create a Linux VLC Streaming Media Server for Your Home How to Create a Linux VLC Streaming Media Server for Your Home Enjoying music or movies via Netflix or YouTube is great, but what about when the Internet is down? With a VLC media server, you'll never have to go without entertainment again! Read More , to cast videos from your PC to your TV How to Cast Videos From PC to TV Using VLC & Chromecast How to Cast Videos From PC to TV Using VLC & Chromecast If you have video files on your PC that you wish to watch on your TV instead, you can do it using Chromecast and this neat feature in the latest versions of VLC. Read More , stripping, or copying the audio from a YouTube video How Can I Extract Audio From an MP4 or YouTube Video? How Can I Extract Audio From an MP4 or YouTube Video? Do you sometimes just want to listen to a YouTube video? Stripping the audio from a video lets you enjoy the content anywhere. Or you could distribute a Hangouts video podcast as an audio podcast! Read More , and is packed with other hidden features 6 More VLC Media Player Features You Must Try 6 More VLC Media Player Features You Must Try VLC is a media player more powerful than you might realize. Are you using it to its full potential? Here are some pointers. Read More .

In short, if you’re not already using VLC for something (it even does video screen captures How to Take Screenshots in a Snip with these Windows Tools How to Take Screenshots in a Snip with these Windows Tools Windows offers many ways to capture your screen. Microsoft Snip takes the Snipping Tool to the next level, but many others compete for the top spot. We have summarized your options. Read More ) you should be. And you’ll need it for setting a video as your desktop background.

Set the Desktop Background

In older versions of VLC media player, you’ll need to make some changes.

Open Tools > Preferences > Videos, and look for the Output setting. In the drop-down menu, click the DirectX (DirectDraw) video output option, then Save. Exit VLC, then browse to the video clip you want to use as a background, and play it in VLC media player.

As it plays, right-click on the player window and choose Video > DirectX Wallpaper. (Alternatively, click Video > DirectX Wallpaper from the menu. (Windows may display a warning, so close this, and then minimize your apps and settle back to enjoy the video!

Once you’re done with the video, maximize VLC media player, open Video and click DirectX Wallpaper again to remove the check. Then exit the program.

However, for more recent versions of VLC media player, all you need to do is right-click the video and select Set as wallpaper.

What you’ll find with this is that although the video goes into full-screen mode and you can still access your Windows toolbar and Start button, desktop icons and shortcuts are missing. So, it’s more of a modified full-screen mode than a desktop background.

3. Set a Desktop Background With YouTube

Available On: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS

If the results from VLC media player don’t meet your requirements, there are various alternatives of varying complexity.

To set a YouTube video as a desktop wallpaper, play the clip (perhaps loop it first), then set it to full screen. Windows users should then be able to Alt-Tab through the open apps and place them on top of the video background. Note that again in this scenario, it is not a true desktop background — there are no desktop icons and shortcuts. Hit Esc to exit the full-screen view.

Take Your Desktop Theming to the Next Level

You probably know of various ways to customize your desktop, from simply changing the background picture to moving the taskbar, and even altering the fonts 7 Best Tools to Tweak and Customize Windows 10 7 Best Tools to Tweak and Customize Windows 10 Your Windows setup can be as unique as you are. We have compiled the best tools to help you customize the design and functionality of your Windows system. Read More . But adding a video as the desktop background is the final stage of customization. If you haven’t tried it already, now is surely the time.

What do you think? Have you tried setting a video as your desktop background yet? Did it work well? Tell us about it in the comments.

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  1. M.Daguerre
    July 1, 2017 at 5:23 pm

    The VLC instructions seem to pertain only to Windows. The referenced commands don't exist in the MacOS version ofVLC, either in the right-click menu or in the menubar menus. I would be happy to be shown that I'm missing something...

    • M.Daguerre
      July 1, 2017 at 5:31 pm

      Aaaaaand 5 minutes later I found a quick way of doing it in MacOS....once you have already set up a video as your screensaver.
      1. install the SaveHollywood screensaver module and select your video as your screen saver.
      2. Open a terminal and paste two command lines in. Your screensaver video is now your looping desktop background. Here's the commands: http://www.techradar.com/how-to/computing/apple/easy-mac-hacks-set-screen-saver-as-desktop-background-1305622
      3. Hide the terminal. Rejoice. When you realize you are bored by the video, close the terminal and the video goes away.

  2. Sam
    May 11, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    There's also a really nice program on Steam called Wallpaper Engine. It IS paid program, but has Steam Workshop support, which means other users can submit new wallpapers, and is VERY easy to use.

    • Christian Cawley
      May 12, 2017 at 7:54 am

      Great tip, Sam, thanks for sharing!