Ladyguide: A Snazzy Windows Desktop

Happy Friday afternoon, readers! I was supposed to use this space to write a book review, but I’m saving that until next week. Instead, I wanted to share some cool stuff I did with my computer desktop, because 1. I’m really proud of how it turned out and 2. I was kind of mean in my last review of this author’s work and I want to take some extra time in my next one.

So humor me, I promise to have the review of Deadline by Mira Grant up next week.  (I really liked it, btw!)

I got the idea to mod my desktop from Lifehacker, which is the one Gawker Media site I turn off adblock to visit. They ran the cutest featured desktop, and I started by trying to copy their version exactly.  Trouble is, I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would, so I made it my own, as I do.

The final result (click the pic to see it full-ish size) is a tribute to the original design, Kurt Vonnegut and Doctor Who. If you look close enough, you can also learn my real first name.  MY DESKTOP IS FULL OF SECRETS.

What you’ll need to make it work:

1. Windows 7

2. Rainmeter – this is a desktop mod program, and it takes a minute to figure out how it works. Lifehacker has a great info/tutorial post on the nuts and bolts of it. You’ll need version 2.1, which is in beta, but completely stable.

3. RocketDock – this nifty little tool is cake to use, and it creates a dock bar on your Windows PC that works like the Mac dock. I’m using the blank theme here, but it comes preloaded with an assortment of styling options.


4. APPOWS2010 theme, I’m using the “nite” version.

5. Simplesentencethree skin for Rainmeter, I’m using it for the weather, sunrise/sunset time and music player info. This is groovy because it lets you use any font you have installed, and you can customize the color and size. (I’m using Coolvetica as a font.)

Music skin close-up
Sunrise/Sunset and performance meters close-up

6. Ikonko’s skin for Rainmeter, I’m using the memory, performance, clock, date and recycle bin skins.

Date and time widgets close-up + a TARDIS

7. For icons, I used some of treetog’s i icons for Windows, kyo-tux’s drawer icon (for my Windows explorer folder), documents icon by themacnerdie

8. For the wallpaper (which you can download here, if you’d like it) I used Girl-on-the-moon’s Ultimate Doctor Who Photoshop Shapes and a wordle of quotes from Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions. Click the image below to see full size.

The steps:

1. Extract Rainmeter and install.

2. Extract Rocketdock and install.

3. Install Simplesentencethree and Ikonko’s skins for Rainmeter. (Drop them into your My Documents > Rainmeter > Themes folder, then you can access from the Rainmeter icon in your taskbar.)

4. Install “nite” theme from APPOWS (I extracted and double clicked the theme file. Easy like pie.)

5. Switch to the background image you want to use. (Right click on a blank spot on your desktop, choose Personalization, then background image.)

6. Tweak everything to your liking, including customizing what’s in your dock, changing the icons, playing with font colors and otherwise wreaking havoc. All the widgets are click-and-drag by default, so you can put them anywhere on the screen. I added custom messages to display in the morning, afternoon, evening and night in the edit options for the sunrise/sunset widgets. I made the font colors match the colors I used in the wallpaper, too. The music widget discovered I was running iTunes all on its own, but there are instructions for several other media players, if it isn’t automatically supported.

7. Sit back and admire.

Running a non-traditional desktop has a few challenges. If you’re used to relying on the task bar to know what’s running and what isn’t, that’s completely different. Any running program in your doc will have an arrow (in the doc pic up above, I’m running Thunderbird and Firefox) next to it, and any active windows will appear below (or next to, depending on where you’re keeping it) the dock.

Have you tricked out your home computer? What goodies are you using? If you’d like to show off your system, send me an email (selena at persephonemagazine dot com) and I’ll feature it in a later post!

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

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