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How To: Trick Out Your Desktop with Rainmeter

Why Rainmeter?

Download Rainmeter

Probably the first question on your mind is why do I need this? Rainmeter is a great way to put considerably more information right in front of you at all times without having to load certain apps. By having a skin for RSS feeds, Gmail, and Facebook on your desktop, you can save yourself a lot of needless checking while working on something else.

How would you like to have the information normally available through multiple programs all on your desktop without ever needing to load those apps? Rainmeter has a very small footprint–only 24 K in the task monitor–and can display a considerable amount of information.

It's safer than a Windows Widget. For starters, Rainmeter skins are all scripted and you get the source code. You have to open up the .INI file to make edits, like changing the settings, so you can see what the skin does, and I've not yet heard of anyone hiding malware in a Rainmeter skin. Conversely, a Windows widget is a closed, compiled app, but notice that when you install one you are given a security warning about unsafe and unknown widgets.

Hero skin, available on Deviant Art

Hero skin, available on Deviant Art

Windows widgets are also pretty much all the same size. This is more due to its Vista legacy. Vista's sidebar was fixed in width and you couldn't move the widgets away from the right side of the screen. With Windows 7, you can drag and place widgets anywhere on the screen.

Hopefully this will eventually mean widgets of larger sizes, too. Windows widgets tend to use the same font size, and it's very small. Rainmeter skins give the option of a larger font size so you don't wind up squinting at the screen.

What's really nice about Rainmeter is the author can create his or her own graphics and then display the information inside them, as opposed to just printing text on the screen like Widgets do. One of the more common and popular clocks for Rainmeter, for example, is one that clones the clock on Android smartphones. That skin comes with the images for the clock digits and background.

  • ssddx
    Sample Destop...Mine
    Hah! I see you use ObjectDock Plus! as well. Awsome program.

    This looks interesting; I will have to check it out. Is that circle in the bottom right a working calendar?
    Reply
  • house70
    Hey, tom's, how come we are still getting swamped with spam? Here's an idea: mark as spam any message that has more than 2 links in it and any message that has more than twice the symbol $ in it. That should help out for a while until you come up with even better filters.
    Reply
  • shoelessinsight
    I downloaded Rainmeter after reading this article and have been experimenting with it for a few hours. Though I am having a hard time getting reliable readings of my system temperatures and my current wireless bandwidth, most of the skins are surprisingly easy to customize.

    Thanks for the article! =)
    Reply
  • gdroland
    Awesome article. I've got alot of Rainmeter desktops setup over on DeviantArt.com / With all the files you need to create them on your own computer. Check them out and don't hesitate to ask in the comments if you have questions/difficulties.

    http://gdroland.deviantart.com/
    Reply
  • cosmie
    Which weather skin is being used on the sample desktop?
    Reply
  • ecnovaec
    I love your desktop! can you please tell us what clock/etc you are using??
    Reply
  • tgandy
    Cosmie,

    I use the Felix weather widget. It comes with the Rainmeter install.
    Reply
  • tgandy
    ssddxHah! I see you use ObjectDock Plus! as well. Awsome program.This looks interesting; I will have to check it out. Is that circle in the bottom right a working calendar?
    Yes it is. I've been on the computer at midnight and watched it update the day and date.
    Reply
  • scottman777
    I've also downloaded Rainmeter after reading your article - awesome! Where'd you get that calendar?
    Reply
  • scottman777
    n/m I found it! Thanks for the article!
    Reply