GIFs have become the lifeblood of internet culture. Rarely does an online feed not contain several (hundred) funny, informative, or adorable GIFs.
Did you know that you could bring your love of GIFs to your desktop? There are ways to create GIF wallpapers in Windows, but using the popular Windows program Rainmeter, you can place as many GIFs on your desktop as you desire.
Here’s What You’ll Need
To achieve the desired effects, you’ll need the following documents, some text, images, and of course Rainmeter.
The INI File
Rainmeter’s INI file links your images to the program. First, head to the root Rainmeter directory located in C:\Users\[PC Name]\Documents\Rainmeter\Skins. Within this directory, create a new folder with a name of your choice, for example GIF.
Within this folder, create your INI file. Do this by right-clicking within your GIF directory and selecting New > Text Document. Copy and paste the following code into this document:
[Rainmeter] Update=45 [ImageNumberCalc] Measure=Calc Formula=Counter % [*] [ImageMeter] Meter=Image ImageName=#@#[GIF Folder Name]\frame_[ImageNumberCalc].gif AntiAlias=1 DynamicVariables=1 W=300 H= PreserveAspectRatio=1
A few things to note about this piece of code. First, the only necessary change to the code will be the ImageName parameter. Replace [GIF Folder Name] with whatever you named the folder containing your GIF.
Second, your Formula parameter. Formula will load the amount of images you specify for your GIF. Some GIFs may have as little as 10 frames, while others may span hundreds of frames. It is up to you to change this parameter from [*] to the amount required for your GIF, with one added (34 images requires an entry of 35). This number is simple to check, and further explanation will be provided in the following section. Remember to not confuse Formula with Update, which controls the playback speed of your GIF.
Pro Tip: Don’t have a GIF to use? Check out these awesome tools for creating animated GIFs in Windows.
The third most important parameters are W and H. W stand for width and H, for height. This will control the size of your GIF. Alongside W and H, PreserveAspectRatio will prevent your image from becoming distorted. Enabling this parameter will allow you to change either your W or H parameters, and still preserve the full image. To deactivate it, change the 1 to a 0 or delete the parameter altogether.
Save your text documents, name it something simple, and include the added .ini extension. Naming your file with the INI extension, coffee.ini for example, will allow Rainmeter to recognize your file.
The GIF File
Create a folder within your GIF folder named @Resources. This folder will hold the images linked to you INI file. Within this folder, create another folder. Name this folder something pertaining to your GIF for easy location. For example, I’ve named the folder containing my GIF files coffee.
Place your desired GIF into this folder. Now that you have a GIF to work with, you have to use a splitting program which compiles your GIF into an assortment of single GIF images. These are the images you will use to create your desktop GIF.
Split Your GIF
You’ll need to split your GIF. This process is simple and can be automated using EZGIF. The Splitter function will allow you to upload and split your GIF into individual GIF images. Once you’ve split your image, download the ZIP file containing your images and move it to the appropriate GIF folder.
Unzip the file. You should now have your original GIF file, a zipped file, and your individual images. Delete both the original GIF and the zipped file, solely leaving behind your individual images.
Now, rename your GIF files. Your INI file determines the images entered into Rainmeter. The script given allows for images named frame_[ImageNumberCalc].gif, meaning files named frame_1.gif, frame_2.gif, frame_3.gif, and so on. (See our tips for mass renaming multiple files in Windows.)
This works well for the automatic format that EZGIF uses for its images. There are plenty of methods to rename files en masse, the easiest of which is Bulk Rename Utility (BRU). Copy and paste your images into BRU, select them all within the program, and increase the Last n parameter under Remove to 12. This will remove the end of your files and preserve the frame_[Number] format. Click Rename on the bottom right-hand corner of BRU to apply.
Finally, change the Formula parameter in your original INI file. Replace [*] with however many frames your GIF includes, plus one.
Activating Your GIF in Rainmeter
Open your Manage Rainmeter window and select Refresh all. Locate and double-click the INI file for your GIF, and it should appear on your desktop. If you’d like to display more than one GIF on your desktop, create a duplicate copy of your root GIF file and modify your files as needed.
Benchmarking tests show an Intel i5 4460 will sustain around a 5% activity spike while two examples of this skin are active. Although this skin requires CPU usage, it will not affect general PC performance.
GIF-ify Your Desktop With Rainmeter
A special thanks to Reddit user /u/Mathiashenr whose excellent planetary Rainmeter skin provided much of the backbone for this effect!
I’m a sincere advocate of everything Rainmeter. Using a little bit of know-how, there’s no limit to what Rainmeter can do for your desktop experience—even creating live interactive wallpapers. If you decide GIFs aren’t right for you, consider making parallax desktops wallpapers with Rainmeter instead.