Rainmeter has long been my favorite Windows customization tool. It’s light-weight, free, and if used correctly can render your desktop unrecognizable. If you’re completely new to Rainmeter, follow the link provided to learn more about this fantastic software.
Not only can you create a truly spectacular desktop experience, you can create and share whole configurations with a few clicks of your mouse. Here’s how!
Rainmeter Themes and How to Share Them
Rainmeter themes range from simple widget configurations to complex, involved desktop experiences. While I prefer the latter, we’ve all got to start somewhere.
To begin, open your Rainmeter window.
On the left-hand side, you’ll note your Rainmeter skins. Rainmeter skins are created using INI file, text files which Rainmeter reads as widgets. To activate a skin, locate the INI file and double-click it or select Load from the top left-hand corner of your window.
Layouts and Themes
To save and load a whole Rainmeter theme, head to your Layouts tab.
To save your layout, name your current setup’s layout and click Save. Your layout will be accessible in the Saved layouts section. Note that you can include your current wallpaper, or create a completely empty layout, by checking the options above the Name parameter.
Share Skin Package and Theme
To share your theme, you’ll need to create an RMSKIN file. You can find this option in the previous Skins tab.
Click Create .rmskin package to open the Rainmeter Skin Packager. You can add skins, whole layouts and plugins (which allows Rainmeter skins to use program information, Spotify for example) from this window. You must name and provide authorship for your skin. It’s also necessary to provide a skin in your RMSKIN package.
You can save several skins within a new folder, name it whatever you’d like, and choose this folder as your skin. Once you’ve entered all necessary parameters, click Next.
Then, select what you’d like the skin to do after installation. Remember to specify the Windows version to ensure compatibility. Finally, click Create package to create your RMSKIN file.
Creating a Rainmeter Custom Theme
Now that you know how to save and share a theme, let’s get to creating the theme. Your theme can involve whatever it is you would like. The best starting point for a theme is the wallpaper. I chose to create a theme around Kendrick Lamar’s latest album release, so I’ll use the following wallpaper.
Check to see if there are any immediate skins you’d like to use. DeviantArt is the typical choice to view and download Rainmeter skins. I enjoy having VU meters — visualizer bars which change according to the music — on my desktop, so I’ll add a few Fountain of Color visualizers along the black and white border.
Next, I’ll create and load a copy of the artist’s image and place it over the meter in order to create a slight 3D effect.
You can use this effect with any image, so feel free to be creative with your Rainmeter layering.
Since this is a music-based skin, it’s only natural to include a Spotify player in the mix. Cleartext is a fantastic choice since it’s simple, discrete and allows for a selection of options. In the following example, I also took the liberty of changing the skin’s default font to the font used in Lamar’s recent album art.
You can also include certain skins to integrate some utility in your theme. I typically use the Lucence pack as a go to weather, note, and resource monitor skins.
I’ll stop there, but you don’t have to. Besides, you can spend hours creating one perfect skin with a program like Rainmeter. You could even add a parallax effect to the above theme, taking it to a whole other level.
There’s no limit to the amount of skin and wallpaper combinations you can try. If you’d like to download the above Rainmeter layout yourself, you can download it here. Configure it to your own desktop.
Disclaimer: Since the theme provided essentially wraps all skins used into one folder, it has not been properly vetted to function within the default kendrick folder. To fix this issue, move all contents from this folder to the root Rainmeter folder — C:\Users\[PC Name]\Documents\Rainmeter\Skins — and then activate the kendrick layout via your Layouts tab.
Rainmeter and Third-Party Software
There’s themes, and there’s desktop experiences. Another great aspect of Rainmeter is that it works well in tandem with other programs as well. Take the following, for example.
The differences between our Rainmeter example and the example above are as follows:
- Background — It may be hard to make out, but the background is actually a quickly made cinemagraph video implemented via Steam’s highly rated Wallpaper Engine. Wallpaper Engine creates wallpapers from images, GIFs, and videos (with or without audio).
- Keystroke Launcher — When it comes to application launchers, I prefer a subtle approach. The program Launchy provides a comprehensive and highly customizable keystroke launcher. You can also create your own custom application launcher within Rainmeter as well.
- Point Cloud Earth — The additional, rotating earth model doesn’t actually require third-party software. It’s named Hologram, and you can even create your own point cloud model using a 3D model file of your choice! If you find the skin confusing, here’s an article to guide you.
While examples like the ones above can be achieved within minutes, merging Rainmeter with third-party applications seamlessly will take a bit longer than solely using Rainmeter. How long it takes, and how deep you’re willing to go, is completely up to you.
Get to Customizing!
Rainmeter is the holy grail of Windows customization software: it’s lightweight, extensive, and easy to play around with. The more time you spend familiarizing yourself with both its features and code library, the better your themes will be. Best of all, it’s free. So what are you waiting for?
Ready to create your own Rainmeter theme? Which other Rainmeter tricks would you like to learn? Let us know in the comments below!