A Simple Guide to Rainmeter: The Windows Desktop Customization Tool
Rainmeter is the ultimate tool for customizing your Windows desktop. Rainmeter “skins” can add interactive wallpapers, desktop widgets, and more. Capable of everything from a calendar widget to a complete parallax desktop, there’s no end to what Rainmeter can do.
Rainmeter can be difficult, but I’m here to guide you. Read on and you’ll be creating your own personal desktop experience in no time.
Rainmeter’s charm comes from its wavering levels of complexity. Need a weather widget? No problem. Need a desktop calendar? Done. Yet, if you’re willing to spend a few hours learning about backgrounds, applications, program linking, and desktop layering, there’s no telling what you can create.
Are you a video game fan? Want to extend your fandom to your desktop? Put in the effort to create an experience as fulfilling as /u/akmos‘s Overwatch theme.
Do you prefer a smaller, simpler desktop theme? Rainmeter can do that, as is the case with my own desktop.
Before you go off and begin making skins yourself, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the fundamentals first.
The Skin-ny on Rainmeter’s UI
Rainmeter’s Manage Rainmeter window is the command center for your skins. It displays your skins — the widget files used in Rainmeter — as well as layouts and settings.
The Skins window is the main window you will use and it provides several useful features.
Active skins is a dropdown menu that will display every active skin in Rainmeter. To activate a skin, click a folder’s dropdown button in the left-hand panel and double-click on an INI file. Once you’ve selected a skin, you will enable placement and loading options.
In this window, you will find information on the Rainmeter skin. You can take the skin away by clicking Unload in the skin settings, or double-clicking the INI file again. Refresh will unload and reload a skin to enact any changes you may have added. Edit will open your INI skin using a text program, which will allow you to modify Rainmeter skin settings.
The Position feature controls whether skins appear over your active windows (programs, browsers, etc.) or stay on the desktop. The Load order corresponds to the layering of your skins.
The Display monitor option will set your skins to a particular screen, which is great if you have a multiple monitor setup. Two features to remember below this option are Draggable, which allows users to drag their skins around the desktop, and Click through, which will deactivate your skin’s click function and integrate the skin to your background.
On the bottom of your window, you’ll find useful options which will serve important functions in your Rainmeter career. Create .rmskin package is a tool which saves your current Rainmeter layout as a compact, single file. The RMSKIN package will also install any plugins, skins, and settings to create a complete Rainmeter package.
Refresh all will refresh your skins and skin folders, essentially refreshing the program. Edit settings will pull up your Rainmeter settings.
Edit Rainmeter Skins
There are two methods of editing a Rainmeter skin. The first is the skin settings, which controls the function of the actual skin. You can reach this skin setting by right-clicking a skin and selecting Edit skin.
Skin settings depend on the skin’s functions. Weather skins, for example, require that you enter your geographic information in the skins’ INI text file before working correctly.
Your skin may also contain its own settings panel, which acts as a part of the skin package. The setting panel will provide users a clean interface to access the skin’s parameters.
To reach Rainmeter’s settings, open the Manage Rainmeter window and click on the Edit settings button. These settings are useful for skin placement as well as resizing. Skins are also individually labeled so you know exactly what skin you’re editing.
Rainmeter parameters may require some online scrounging. For example, what if you want to place a skin on the center of your screen? Luckily, Rainmeter provides a reliable and extensive online library to read up on skin positioning, linking, button creation, and so on.
Skins and Where to Find Them
Rainmeter skins are installed via Rainmeter using the RMSKIN extension. They will automatically open with Rainmeter and may or may not automatically install depending on the file configuration.
Rainmeter skins are installed in packages activated through INI files. INI files are text files which Rainmeter requires to activate your skin. These INI files can range largely in complexity and are the main files that require editing in Rainmeter.
If you want to find Rainmeter skins, your best bet is DeviantArt. With a wide selection of skins created by amateurs and professionals alike, you can usually find the skin you’re looking for on DeviantArt.
If you’re looking for inspiration instead, Reddit’s Rainmeter subreddit has an incredibly helpful and inventive community. New content is also submitted daily, despite Rainmeter being several years old.
From Default to Fantastic!
With a little elbow grease and some know-how, Rainmeter has the potential to create a truly spectacular desktop experience . I’ve said it in the past and I’ll say it again: don’t settle for default. Not only will you learn how to create a truly unique desktop, you’ll also gain valuable troubleshooting, programming, and editing experience.
Do you use Rainmeter? What are some of your favorite skins? Let us know in the comments below!