I often get questions from people regarding the various desktop and theme customizations I have on my laptop Windows XP setup. Instead of replying to each person individually, I decided to write-up this guide that covers the programs I use and what I do to achieve a look that’s a little more fun than a default Windows XP style.
Some examples of questions and comments I get from people that have seen screenshots of my desktop are:
- What program did you use?
- Amazing themes/icons/cursor! You have to tell me how/where you got them!
- Would it cost me a lot?
- You changed your logon/boot screen? No way…
- What are those things running on your desktop? Showing statistics/weather etc…
- Whats that thing you have that Mac OSX also has…the dock for windows?
- Where did you find that, can you send me the sites?
- Will this screw up my windows and make it unusable!?
So to all those that asked such questions, this is your lucky day, I found some time to write this tutorial out for those who want to theme and for those who just want to know a bit more about it.Software:So firstly, you won’t get very far without the proper software.
Theming:For themes, the good ones that I know and strongly recommend are:
Out of these three I have used Windows Blinds and StyleXP to their maximum capabilities. Why? Well mainly because they have the most themes and I’m pretty sure most users out there use them, also because during my first theming I was recommended to use WindowsBlinds. This doesn’t mean DesktopX is bad, I have used it before several times. A plus side with DesktopX is that it comes with everything in a package (eg. Widgets, Objects…don’t worry I’ll explain these later on in this tutorial), this way you won’t have to download tons of other software.
Icons / CursorFor changing icons you will find lots and lots of software, some great but some useless holding functions that I doubt the normal user would want.The one I use and probably the best is:
IconPackager is great, it’s simple yet effective. It contains everything one would need to change the icons and cursors of your desktop. For IconPackager you can also get packages which come in the form of a .pkg, these open directly with IconPackager and change all your icons without you having to do it manually – brilliant in my opinion. A preview of the program would be:
Or you can use (only use this if you aren’t interested in icons):
It’s pretty easy to use and has a freeware version, just find packages for it or get a zip file which contains all the icons for the cursor and drag it onto the original one. You can later save your package into a CursorXP package file and go to another computer to install it easily.
Logon ScreensTo change your logon screen from the default Windows Blue one, there is one very simple program and the best part is that it’s free:
And it looks like:
As you can see all you have to do is download some logons and double-click them and they will open with LogonStudio. Then just click apply, restart and enjoy the show.
Mac OSX Type DockThe dock that I use is ObjectDock, it’s freeware and straight forward to configure to the way you want. It supports drag and drop icons and you can change the icons if you want. You can choose to use it above, below, left, or right of the desktop, and if you have everything you need on it you even have the option of hiding the Start taskbar.
Boot SkinningOne of my favorite things to do is to change the black Windows XP screen with the blue bar going across…when you restart the computer…yes it’s possible to change that too!One of the nicest software programs and free to use would be BootSkinIn use it looks like:
Pretty straightforward, like LogonStudio you just download the bootskin and double-click and it opens up in a flash. You can then preview it (don’t worry it won’t restart your computer), or apply it and restart to see the magic in action.
WidgetsWidgets are those little things that run on the desktop making your life just a little bit easier. The Software needed to run them is straight forward, easy and free.The main one that is the most famous is:Yahoo Widgets (Formerly known as Konfabulator)The other one is DesktopXas I mentioned above. DesktopX has its own kind of widgets so I sugest sticking with Yahoo Widgets as they have a gallery with thousands of widgets and new ones added everyday.
System Information, CPU/RAM Usage, Hard Drive Space Remaining etc.Another important program that I use sometimes is SysMetrix. SysMetrix is a skinnable clock and metering application. Its purpose is to provide system metrics in a variety of interesting, useful, and cool ways. It can monitor and report on the hundreds of statistics. You can find skins for it which are either vertical or horizontal at your desktop’s native resolution so that you can match it with your desktop just the way you want, and the configuration of the program is entertaining and very easy.In use it looks like:
Where to find all the themes/icons/widgets and packages for the software:There are two main sites that I visit for all my theming purposes:
Both of these sites have things for the software programs that I mentioned above. On the left there is a link to each of the software programs where you see a gallery of things you can check out and download…you should easily find them.
These sites can get you all you need for: Wallpapers, WindowsBlinds, StyleXP, DesktopX, BootSkin, LogonScreen, ObjectDock, SysMetrixand tons of other software that I didnt mention above.Widgets download sites for:
Will doing this stuff render my computer unusable?
I have been asked this a lot too and have to say I haven’t ever faced this situation, at least not with the software used above. Though make sure that your computer has at least 512MB of RAM to get a good effect. If you run a all of these programs simultaneously on say 128MB or 256MB be prepared for a not so fast computer.Other Useful Links:Turn your PC into a Mac(Looks Wise only!)
deviantART(Awesome site to get Wallpapers and a few things for some of the programs I mentioned above).My Skinned Desktops– Check them out at www.panamix.net/Desktops/That’s it I suppose, so Good Luck and have fun. If you have any questions feel free to PM meor Emailme. If you liked the tutorial feel free to make me a donationof anything $1 or above through PayPal
Disclaimer: Please note that I am in noway responsible for any liabilities/damages to your computer. I have used every software program that I list in this article and can assure you that they work, if used right. If anything goes wrong, uninstall it in safe mode or in the worst case reinstall windows.
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