Your desktop is your virtual home, and much like your real home, customising it to fit your needs and style can make the difference between between a drab and depressing workspace and one you're excited to work on. Here's the five most popular tools for the job on Windows, Mac, and Linux.Image courtesy Lifehacker reader 0John0.
Rainmeter is a great tool for tweaking your Windows desktop. This actively developed tool attractively displays all kinds of information on your desktop (like your to-do list, calendar, weather, and a ton more), and from all kinds of sources on your computer or via the internet. You can change its look using themes available from their web site. Rainmeter is widely used and for Windows is a great way to customise your desktop.
If you want to display system information, text files, photos, graphs and other information on your Mac desktop, GeekTool can do the job. By default it ships with only a few plug-ins capable of monitoring text files, launching scripts, and monitoring system information, but used with conjunction with user-created Geeklets (GeekTool scripts), GeekTool can be extended to display any number of sources of information.
Samurize is another tool for customising information displayed on your Windows desktop. Similar to Rainmeter, Samurize has many plug-ins that allow you to extend its functionality and the information it's capable of displaying on your desktop. The app itself doesn't appear to have been updated since 2007, but it works with Windows 7, and users are still submitting new plug-ins.
Conky (Linux, FreeBSD)
Conky is a customisation tool that allows you to put system and other information onto your Linux desktop. Like many of the other tools featured above, the most popular way to use it is often to display current CPU, memory, and disk usage—but there are hundreds of other system options you can display, including things like email (IMAP and POP3) and currently playing music. Conky allows you to write any type of custom plugins you can think of using the Lua programming language.
Fences is a unique program that's a bit different to the rest of the options in today's Hive. Rather than focusing on the kind of customisation in which you add attractive information-focused widgets to your desktop, Fences is all about organising your desktop clutter. Using the tool, you create boundaries (or fences) around areas on your desktop where you would like to wrangle and organise certain shortcuts. These fences organise your desktop and all those shortcuts into a more attractive and manageable interface, keeping those desktop-cluttering shortcuts translucent in the background until you need them.
Want to add a note about your favourite customisation tool and what makes it so great? Let's hear it in the comments.