If you use a computer and read Lifehacker, it’s probably safe to assume you’ve customised your desktop. But if you haven’t, or you’re looking for a fresh new look, here are some great options to explore this weekend.
Photo by D4RKL1NG
A Lifehacker Desktop
By request we recently posted smartphone and desktop wallpaper based on our Evil Week images. We thought we’d throw together more wallpapers for you desktop for those of you interested in showing your Lifehacker love. Everything is zipped up and supports resolutions up to 1920×1200.
If you ever wished you could add skinnable Windows Gadgets (or OS X Widgets) directly to your desktop, well, that’s what Rainmeter does for Windows users. Rainmeter lets you extend your desktop image into a living design by providing always-updating meters that sit right on your desktop. With skins and some good design sense, you can make your meters look truly integrated and come up with some pretty incredible looks. Here are some of our favourites
- The Gaia Desktop
- The Enigma Desktop
- The Cave Story Desktop
- The Listen and Feel Desktop
- The Monochrome Grey Desktop
For more Rainmeter themes, check out the Rainmeter deviantART page. If you have any favourites, be sure to post them in the comments.
iOS Style Icons
If you like the structural uniformity of iOS rounded rectangle grid, you’ll want to take a look at the IconFactory’s Flurry. While specifically geared towards Mac OS X systems, all icons are available for Windows as well. Flurry offers a ton of applications icons so you’ll most likely be covered for virtually every app on your system. If you’re not, it’s really easy to make additional icons in Photoshop by creating a 512×512 rounded rectangle shape with a corner radius of 80px. Once you have that shape, you can put whatever you want in inside of it and have a custom Flurry-style icon.
Make Windows or Ubuntu Linux Look Like OS X
While most modern OS’ have pretty decent interface design across the board, it seems there’s an enormous desire to get that OS X look without actually using OS X. For Windows, Snow Transformation is the answer. For Ubuntu users, it’s Macbuntu. Both packages help you undergo a full Mac OS X transformation without having to abandon your favourite operating system.
Bring a Little Windows 7 to Mac OS X
One of Windows 7’s great features is Aero Peek, letting you preview open windows as you mouse over an application in the task bar. While clicking and holding will show you all your windows in Mac OS X (via Exposé), it’s not quite as cool or convenient as Aero Peek. Fortunately, with Hyperdock, you can add that exact functionality to OS X. It’ll even emulate the functionality of AeroSnap.
Change Your OS X Dock
Panic’s Candybar, while known for its icon-changing prowess, can also make alterations to your OS X dock. It isn’t free, however, so if you want to change your dock style manually you have several available themes to choose from. My favourite is the Niqu dock, whether you’re using the 2D or the 3D style. If you just don’t like the 3D style and want Apple’s standard 2D look, you can always just open up a terminal window and paste in the following:
defaults write com.apple.dock no-glass -boolean YES; killall Dock
That’ll set the dock to the 2D style and restart it so changes will be visible. If you don’t like the idea of altering system resources but want a different look, the standard 2D dock is a smart way to go.
Theme Windows Quickly and Easily with CustoPack
CustoPack is a quick way of theming your Windows desktop. You just make a few choices and let CustoPack do the rest. While you’ll get a more specific look by doing everything manually, CustoPack can save you a lot of time.
Theme It Yourself
Some of the best customisations you can make are the ones you design yourself. You can be sure you’re getting exactly what you want because you’re in charge of the design. Doing it yourself is quite a bit more work, however, but there are some easy ways to make some creative looks pretty quickly.
Creating your own bokeh wallpaper is an attractive backdrop for whatever else you want to do. While you can simply download pre-made bokeh wallpapers, creating your own is really simple and you’ll be able to specify the colours and the placement of the bokeh elements to best suit your customisation needs.
(For Pixelmator fans, here’s a digital bokeh tutorial for Pixelmator.)
X3 Studios has a create your own wallpaper web app that lets you use existing elements they’ve created to make a custom picture. When you’re done you can download it and set it as your desktop or share it with others.
OS X users can make use of a piece of software called Oxidizer to create some interesting and sometimes stunning computer-generated images. Chris Pirillo explains how to do it in the video above.
One of my favourite ways of making wallpaper is to make a basic sketch on real, live paper, scan it and colour it in on the computer. Using blending modes in Photoshop (or your favourite image editor) you can pretty easily paint on top of it and end up with a nice, simple style that makes for a pleasant wallpaper that isn’t too busy.
Wallpaper and Customisation Resources
- Our Top 10 Free Wallpaper Tools and Tweaks is a good place to start.
- InterfaceLIFT – InterfaceLIFT is an excellent resource for all kinds of wallpapers with the ability to sort out any types of images that don’t work for you. The site provides a catalogue of themes and icons as well.
- DesiznTech – While not really a theming site, DesiznTech posted a bunch of great wallpaper images (and tutorials) that are worth checking out. This is my favourite.
- Chris Pirillo’s favourite Free Wallpaper Sites – Chris Pirillo’s big on wallpapers, and he’s posted a lot of resources he likes to use to find some great images.