Make Your Desktop Stunning with an Interactive Live Wallpaper
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The work of perfecting the look and feel How to Change the Look and Feel of Your Windows 10 Desktop How to Change the Look and Feel of Your Windows 10 Desktop You just upgraded to Windows 10 and you're wondering how you can customize and personalize it. We help you turn your desktop into a virtual Windows experience, one step at a time. Read More of your Windows desktop is never done. For some, changing the background wallpaper is enough to quench the itch of customization. For others (like me) looking for the next best way to customize your desktop experience is something of a passion.

One of the greatest exercises in customization is creating a live and interactive Windows background. Programs like highly popular Windows application Rainmeter Your Complete Guide to Windows 10 Customization Your Complete Guide to Windows 10 Customization You decorate your office – why not your computer? Find out how to make Windows look just the way you want. Make your computer your own, with free tools. Read More are a godsend for the customization geek that enjoys spending hours creating an immersive desktop.


But why spend hours fiddling with Photoshop, when with these simple tricks you can have an impressive live background in minutes.

Install Rainmeter

Once you installed and launched Rainmeter, it will work in the background and can be accessed in the system tray near the Taskbar clock.


Before messing with Rainmeter, it’s best to familiarize yourself with its features. The Rainmeter manager has three categories: Skins, Layouts, and Settings. The skins menu holds all of your icon packets and tools and will be used the most when customizing your desktop. You can add new skins and folders to this menu in This PC > Documents > Rainmeter > Skins.


Rainmeter uses INI files to create custom icons and skins. The best feature of INI files is their easy editing, as INI files open with any text editor and their parameters are easily changeable.

1. 3D Sound Visualizer Effect

Our goal is to imitate the visualizer effect seen below.


The foreground of the wallpaper obscures the Rainmeter sound visualizer, which creates a cool 3D effect with the wallpaper. Although it may seem complicated, the process for this is both easy and lightweight on your computers processing power.

Step 1: Pick a Background

Pick a wallpaper Need A New Wallpaper? These 5 Awesome Sites Will Get You There Need A New Wallpaper? These 5 Awesome Sites Will Get You There Your choice of desktop wallpaper says a lot about who you are. So, if your wallpaper is an expression of who you are, where can you find wallpapers that fit your personality? Read More that has both foreground and background elements from the get-go. The example above shows a white and blue mountain with a blue sky, which goes perfectly with the white sound bars. Color scheme is also important, but not necessary.

I’ve picked out a minimal wallpaper from Simple Desktops, which provide hundreds of free, minimal desktop wallpapers. In order to facilitate the process, create a folder named cut in the Rainmeter Skins location (This PC > Documents > Rainmeter > Skins) and save your wallpaper to this folder.


The simpler the background, the better; this particular desktop wallpaper is only composed of three colors and uses one color as the foreground. This will make it easier to edit, so we can create the proper 3D effect.

Double-click the wallpaper to open the Windows 10 gallery. Right-click Wallpaper > Set as > Set as background to set the first layer of your background.

Step 2: Cut out Foreground

In order to block off the parts we want, create a copy of your wallpaper and edit it by erasing the background of the image. Download an image editor Clipping Magic: Remove The Background From Any Photo In Just A Few Clicks Clipping Magic: Remove The Background From Any Photo In Just A Few Clicks Removing the background from a photo is something Photoshop pros can do in their sleep, but if you find the process hard – and Photoshop expensive – you can be forgiven. Thanks to Clipping Magic,... Read More and erase the background from the wallpaper. I am using GIMP, a free and dynamics image editor GIMP: A Quick Walkthrough Of Everyone's Favorite Open Source Image Editor GIMP: A Quick Walkthrough Of Everyone's Favorite Open Source Image Editor Read More . You can use a wand or color select tool An Idiot's Guide to Photoshop, Part 2: Useful Tools & Tips An Idiot's Guide to Photoshop, Part 2: Useful Tools & Tips This chapter, we will go through some useful tools and tips not mentioned in the first part. You will learn how to use these important tools “on-the-go” and see them in action. Read More to select and cut the background from the image.


Once you’ve cut out the background, save or export the file as a PNG Know When to Use Which File Format: PNG vs. JPG, DOC vs. PDF, MP3 vs. FLAC Know When to Use Which File Format: PNG vs. JPG, DOC vs. PDF, MP3 vs. FLAC Do you know the differences between JPG and PNG, or MP3 and FLAC? If you don't know which file formats to use, let us guide you through their distinctions. Read More in order to preserve its transparency. If the part you cut out looks white or black in a thumbnail, don’t fret; your image is still cut out. Name this edited file anything you’d like, but try to name it something you can remember.


You can view the file extension in the file name under Windows key + X > Control Panel > Appearance and Personalization > File Explorer Options > View > Uncheck Hide extensions for known file types.

Step 3: Create the INI File

Next step is to create the INI file, which will add our newly made background onto the background. In our cut folder, right-click in the window and select New > Text Document. Open the file and add the following:



The Update=-1 parameter prevents the background from updating automatically, which decreases the processor use of the skin. The Background parameter lists the type of meter (ergo Rainmeter) and references your edited wallpaper. Change wallpaperfilename.png to your wallpaper’s actual file name.

The W and H parameters stand in for your monitor resolution which you can check here. Replace resolutionwidth and resolutionheight with the appropriate numbers.

When you’re done, go to File > Save As and save the file under whatever name you prefer with the added extension .ini at the end.

If every parameter is correctly entered, Rainmeter will be able to read the INI file and show up in your Configuration panel. Click on the drop-down menu beside your cut folder and double-click the INI document to load the skin.


Next, adjust the Rainmeter settings for your cutout wallpaper.


Set the Position to On desktop and the Load Order to 2. The position will set where the wallpaper should be placed, and the load order will layer your skins so they achieve the desired effect. Check the Click through option to dismiss right-click options.

Note: Opening the Rainmeter options will temporarily hide your task bar behind your edited wallpaper. Rainmeter assumes you are editing your skins content. Close your Rainmeter options to reveal the Taskbar properly.

Step 4: Download the Sound Visualizer Skin

To finish the effect, download a Rainmeter sound visualizer skin. I prefer using Fountain of Colors for its extensive customization options and sleek design. Download and run the MRSKIN file to get started.


Load the Fountain of Color INI file in your Rainmeter settings. Place the skin on or near the cutout area of your wallpaper. Change the Load order to 1 so it’s loaded before your cutout and change its Position to Bottom.

Optional: Fountain of Colors makes it very easy to change the color of the visualizer, creating dynamic color ranges for an enhanced look.  In the Rainmeter program, open Fountain of Colors > SettingsWindows > SettingsWindow.ini to access the settings.


The easiest way to pick an aesthetically pleasing color for your sound visualizer, is to toggle the Wallpaper colors – Avg option, which gives your sound visualizer the average color of your wallpaper.

Step 5: The Product

Here is the effect without the visualizer color change or layering.


Here is the effect after color change and layering.


You should have the desired effect with your own background and sound visualizer. If not, remember to check the layering settings in the Rainmeter window.

2. Mouseover Background Change Effect

This effect is great for adding a mouse over feature to your desktop.


Download the popular Honeycomb Rainmeter skin, which comes with preset icons and background. Simply install and load Honeycomb’s INI files to create the mouseover effect.

honeycomb example

A more difficult method is shown below, which allows for custom icons and backgrounds along with the addition of logo PNG files. Nevertheless, it is very similar to the 3D Rainmeter effect method.

It may take a little longer, but learning the ins and outs of Rainmeter is an invaluable skill, which opens up a world of customization opportunities.

3. Video Wallpaper

For those who would rather have continual movement in their background, you can play videos as your wallpaper using VLC. Usually treated as a top-notch video and music player 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 , VLC also has the capability to set videos as wallpaper. It’s as easy as opening up a simple video in VLC and going to Video > Set as Wallpaper. Here’s an excellent example by reddit user /u/teebane.


While this is just one method of creating a live wallpaper, there are many others available to suit your needs and wants How to Set Live Wallpapers & Animated Desktop Backgrounds in Windows How to Set Live Wallpapers & Animated Desktop Backgrounds in Windows Live wallpapers can be added to any Windows operating system since Windows XP, although it has become increasingly harder. We show you what your options are in Windows 10, 8, and 7. Read More .

Breathe Life into Your Desktop Background

Why settle for a boring, static background when you can make your desktop experience that much more dynamic? All of these methods have been thoroughly tested for both performance and low processor usage, so you can enjoy your live wallpaper without much lag on your computer. I’d like to thank the sub-reddit community of /r/rainmeter, which provides continually updated inspiration for new Rainmeter skins and techniques.

What live desktop features would you absolutely love to have on your PC? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Tristan Villareal
    January 29, 2018 at 11:18 am

    need some help. the rendered picture is always on top of the background and the visualizer skin. i set to load order 2 but its still on top of everything thanks in advance

  2. Daniel
    July 17, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Hi! Im just a 11 year old kid wanting to pimp up his laptop background since its my last year of Primary school! Thanks alot! Works soo well and its actually really simple. Did it with no help needed! If a 11 year old did it then everyone can!

    • Tristan Villareal
      January 29, 2018 at 11:56 am

      i realized that i'm using a jpeg image when i change it to png it finally works!!

  3. Jesse
    March 2, 2017 at 7:24 am

    this is cool but now i cant use any of my desktop icons because they are hidden behind the background image! also how do you get that starry look on the visualizer?

  4. Mary
    December 5, 2016 at 6:19 am

    Would love to learn how to do this for the mac. Thanks for info~

  5. Joaquin H.
    May 15, 2016 at 6:38 am

    Any way to do this on a mac?

    Thank You

  6. Syed
    May 11, 2016 at 6:05 am

    Thanks man.