April 8, 2008

How to get a totally wicked awesome desktop, dude.

By Daniel

Generally if I have friends or colleagues over and they see my computer, they remark that my desktop is like nothing they’ve ever seen before, especially for a Windows environment. I am going to teach you how to get a wicked awesome desktop, without spending too much bank.

First off, lose the desktop icons. Right click anywhere on the desktop, click View (“Arrange Icons By” on XP), and then Uncheck “Show Desktop Icons”. Hey, you can see past all those icons and now you see your uninteresting desktop. Pimp that out by checking out InterfaceLIFT, one of the coolest desktop sites you’ll ever find, supporting nearly any resolution you can think of. So you have a sweet desktop and the taskbar. I realize that’s not too handy, not having anything really accessible on the desktop, so we’re going to add some stuff back. If you have Quick Launch buttons on your toolbar, detach them by right clicking the taskbar and unchecking “Lock the Taskbar”, and then dragging the Quick Launch buttons off and stick them up on the top of the screen (it should snap into place). You can now add shortcuts to whatever you want, and you’ll have little icons for each of them.

If you have a little bit of processing power to play with, you may want to forgo the above steps and proceed straight to the sweet love that is the dock. Those of you that run Mac OSX are familiar with this. Enter RocketDock, a free freakin’ dock. It is completely awesome as well as being completely free. Upon installing it, you can choose to move it anywhere on the desktop and can tell it to auto-hide. Currently I’ve got my RocketDock auto-hiding on the bottom with my taskbar on the top.

So you’ve got a clean-looking desktop, and a dock. What next? You can stop if you like, or if you want to throw a little money at this endeavor you can explore the magical world of Stardock Software, Inc., and the flagship customization suite known as Object Desktop. $50 gives you access to programs that can change every part of your visual experience. If spending a Grant on your ego is a little too much, consider spending $20 on WindowBlinds, which is Windows Themes on crack. You can have some truly wild looking themes. You also have the support of a massive customizing community at WinCustomize.

Those of you using Windows Vista also have the usefulness that are Gadgets. You XP guys (well, the Vista guys too) can make use of a free program known as SysMetrix, which can be even more attractive than the gadgets.

If you want to be completely outrageous, then you must have Yodm3d. This turns your desktop into a cube. Linux users are familiar with the concept due to the rise of programs like Beryl, XGL, and AIGLX. If the picture below gets you hot, go ahead and give it a download.

I personally don’t find it as useful as I was hoping and have chosen against it.

Okay, so what have we accomplished? Take a look.

The layout I’m running now. That’s running RocketDock, the MMD3 skin for Winamp, CursorFX which is part of Object Desktop, running the ChaNinja Large Cursors, and a wallpaper featuring Elisha Cuthbert. Pictures of hot chicks abound at SexyDesktop.co.uk.

An older layout from about 2 years ago. Windows XP, WindowBlinds, and SysMetrix, with the Quick Launch trick. Wallpaper from InterfaceLIFT.

Hopefully this gives you some inspiration to move past the blue skies and green fields of the stock desktop and get a totally wicked awesome desktop, dude.