Easy Desktops for Windows

Introduction: Easy Desktops for Windows

About: Do you really care?

Got a dull looking Windows desktop background? Want something original and cool looking but have no skills? Here is an easy way to make very cool desktop backgrounds with free software you may already have on your Windows machine.

Step 1: Boring

So here is my very plain and nothing background for my desktop. So very dull to look at. My graphic skills are uber lame at best, so I'll cheat myself some cool backgrounds.

For this project I'm using Winamp and Irfanview. These are free for the taking at http://www.winamp.com and http://www.irfanview.com.

Winamp as most of you should know if a good (while bloated) MP3 player with a lot of chrome plating. Irfanview is a very good image viewing tool. I use both of these daily. Anywho... lets move on and get ride of the dull desktop.

Step 2:

First you need to know what your screen res is. To find this out quickly, right click on a blank area of the desktop (not on top of an icon). You'll get a window like this, left click on "Properties".

Step 3:

Now your "Display Properties" window is open, left click on the "Settings" tab and see what the Screen resolution is set to. In my case, it is 1280 by 1024 pixels. Make a note of what your settings are and then left click on the "Cancel" button.

Step 4:

Fire up Winamp and gets some music playing. Don't bother with any of that lame hippie crap, play something good... Fu Manchu for example. With some music playing, you will need to configure some settings in Winamp....

Step 5:

Left click on "Options" then left click on "Preferences"...

Step 6:

The "Winamp Preferences" window will open. There is long list of items on the left side, scroll down until you find "Visualization" and click on it. The right side of this window will should then have "Advanced Visualization Studio vX.XX (vis_avs.dll)" displayed, left click on that to highlight it as shown in the pic, then left click the "Start" button followed by left clicking the "Configure" button.

Step 7:

You should now have the "Winamp AVS Editor" window opened up. Left click on the "Settings" and then left click on "Fullscreen".

Step 8:

For the "Fullscreen video mode:" field, I've selected "1280x1024@16BBP" since my desktop is 1280 X 1024. I'll be honest I'm not sure what the "@16BBP" stands for, there is also a "@32BBP" setting. Anyway, you will also want to the "Vertical screen height to render (percent)" option to 100. Now left click the "go" button. The screen will flicker for a second, go blank then slowly start to display dancing colors and such... slowly but there. That is full screen visualization, to exit this, click the "Esc" key on your keyboard.

Step 9:

Once you click the "Esc" key, you will see Winamp looking something like this. The colors and patterns will be dancing around pretty fast at this size. The "Prev" and "Next" buttons on Winamp will change the visualization. The "Random" button will turn off/on the random feature in which the visualization will change every 15-ish seconds. The compass looking button on to the left of the "Prev" will toggle the full screen mode on. To the right of the "Random" button is a drop down menu that will have "Community Picks" and "Winamp 5 Picks", start sampling the different bits of eyecandy until you find something you'd like for a desktop.

Next up... how to take this crap and make it a desktop...

Step 10:

So you found something that catches your eye, you go full screen with it and watch it slowly dance around. How to you capture this? Uber easy, on your keyboard, press the "Ctrl" button and while holding that button down, press the "Print Screen" button (ctrl + print screen).

Little heads up, when you first go into a full screen with Winamp, there will be some text at the lower right of the screen, give it a few seconds and it will go away, then do your ctrl + print screen.

Ctrl + print screen will do a screen grab and copy it the clip board. So you do a screen grap, then click the "Esc" key to exit out of the full screen mode.

Open up Irfanview, and left click "Edit" then "Paste" to paste your screen grab into Irfanview. Happy with what you got? Ready to make it a desktop? Just left click on "Options" then left click on "Set as Wallpaper", "Stretched". With that, you now have a new desktop!

Step 11: Not So Boring!

One desktop, like no other.

Step 12: Winamp Desktops Using Irfanview

A few more desktops I did real fast just to have some more examples.

For what it is work, all of the pics used in this were done via the ctrl + print screen and then cropped up with Irfanview. The hardest part of doing all this way actually doing the Instructable.

Post a message if you like this! Post two messages if you don't like this. Post no messages if you just don't care (then hands up in the air).



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    19 Discussions

    Cool instructible, original idea. Check out more cool customisation programs here

    Why does every one think that it's ctrl+print screen? Just print screen works for me!

    Awesome.... its a basic idea, but thanks for hooking me up with the programs, and also, if i were to try it myself, it would have taken longer to figure out, .... but your instructions work, and now i have a kool desktop check it out....

    untitled-1 copy.jpg

    There used to be a Geiss knockoff, I can't remember what it was called, but it had a feature on it where you could set is the background on your active desktop. buggy as hell and ate resources, but it was def. cool.

    1 reply

    Great instructable!

    As your screenshot on slide 8 shows, it's 16BPP or 32 BPP (not BBP). If I'm not mistaken, it stands for Bit Per Pixel. It is what Windows refers to as "Color Quality" (and what some people like myself refer to as "Color Depth") in the Display Properties Settings. You can match what appears in the display settings for better quality (for what good that actually means, read further)

    However, remember that an image with higher color quality will take more space on your drive and will likely take slightly longer to load even though your might not see the difference with recent computers.

    Color depth is directly related to the number of different colors/shades a pixel can take:
    16 bits: ~65,000 (actually 216\)
    24 bits: ~16,000,000 (actually 224\)
    32 bits: ~4,000,000,000 (actually 232\)
    Note that the human eye can distinguish a few million colors. 24 bits color depth is way enough for perfect image quility but for some reason, that setting disappeared from most computers so I recommend sticking to 32 bits for quality or 16 bits for performance.

    As for the tools you really need, JustBurn is right. You only need winamp and ms-paint. But here is a trick to improve his tricks ;-) : If you're using windows 98 and up, save the image in JPG format, it'll save you a lot of space, especialy if you plan to make several different wallpapers. Moreover if the image size is not exactly the same, it's not a problem as long as it is smaller. Windows can stretch the background image to fit your screen resolution, just choose stretch instead of centered when you select the wallpaper.

    You actually only need Winamp, no need to download and install Infanview just to create a wallpaper once. When you press PRINT SCREEN (CTRL+PRINT SCREEN only copy portion of screen that application is using, since is full screen, it works too!), the entire screen is stored in the clipboard... Fire up the MS-Paint and press CTRL+V (or go to menu and select "Edit" -> "Paste"), now go to menu and select "Image" -> "Attributes..." and make sure it's exactly the same size as your resolution... then "OK" and back to menu and select "File" -> "Save as..." and store it into your Windows directory in BMP format... On desktop right-click and "Properties", in "Desktop" tab find your BMP file in the list. Hope that's clear enough!


    12 years ago

    or you could use the "new" winamp 5 MilkDrop visualiser witch can be displayed full screen like your background... (may need a good GPU :D)

    For active desktop, you could get an animation ready, and put that on a html page, and try that. I haven't used Microsoft Operating Systems for several months now, so i really don't know if that would work. But nice desktops.


    12 years ago

    Now, if there was a way to take the visualization and turn it into an active desktop, THAT would be cool! (So that it would still change, not just be a frozen picture)


    12 years ago

    my hands are in the air (but i only posted one message.....i'm so conflicted)

    cool idea :P my desktop classifies as boring... but I typically have the terminal, eclipse or a browser full screen :P