If you’ve never heard of rainmeter before, prepare to enter a world of desktop customization like never before. You’ll learn how to set up rainmeter as well the basics that go with using it. It might look daunting at first but that’s why you’re here. Today, you’ll install rainmeter and set up your first layout.
What is Rainmeter?
Rainmeter is a lightweight open source tool that displays customizable skins, like memory and battery power, RSS feeds and weather forecasts, launch your favorite applications, right on your desktop. Rainmeter brings together the best of form and functionality to create a desktop that cools rad and works as efficient as possible. You are only limited by your imagination and creativity.
What’s more? It works on all forms of the Windows operating system since XP. So Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10 are all compatible. Note however that rainmeter is not a visual style. Meaning, it does not change things like your start bar or the explorer’s appearance. Rainmeter simply works with what’s available to provide an user interface that’s productive and easy on the eyes.
Why do I need it?
Rainmeter is intended for productivity. Imagine having launchers to start up your favorite apps with just a click. The weather outside always for you to see. The latest gaming news feed listed for your convenience. Pausing your music at the click of a button and always knowing the status of your PC. That’s what rainmeter is all about. Everything you need in one beautiful, lightweight interface.
First thing you need to do is download rainmeter. Run the setup and make sure you leave the ‘Launch rainmeter on startup’ checkbox selected.
Once you finish installation, rainmeter will start up and dock on your desktop. You should be granted with the default skin and layout, which is at this time, illustro. So you should have something that looks like this.
Four skins are loaded: Welcome, System, Disks and Clock.
The Basic Terminology
What is a skin?
A skin is like a desktop widget that performs a certain function. However in some cases, a skin might include a number of such widgets to create a skin suite. In your current illustro layout, there are multiple skins such as Clock, Systems and Disks. These together form the illustro skin suite.
Skins are what you should be downloading and adding to spice up your desktop. They can easily be moved around by clicking and dragging. Right clicking on a skin opens up the context menu where you can toggle skins on/off which you’ll learn about further below.
What is a layout?
A layout is the way your current skins are set up. Remember, it is perfectly fine to mix up skins from different skin suites. And these active skins together form your current layout. Things like where they are positioned and which skins are enabled are the properties of a layout. Your layout is what you should be saving once you’re happy with your the way things look.
The Context Menu
When you right-click on a rainmeter skin, it’ll open up the context menu which you can use to perform certain functions on your skins.
On the top of this menu, is the currently selected skin suite and skin. In this case illustro/Welcome, the Welcome skin of the illustro skin suite. Clicking this will open up the folder location of the skin.
The Variants sub-menu shows the available alternate skins, if any, for your selected skin. For example, a clock skin might have a digital clock variant to it’s analog clock skin.
Below this is your currently selected skin suite, in our case, illustro. This further extends to more sub-menus listing all the available skins in this suite which you can toggle on and off.
The Settings menu can be useful to change the behaviour of a particular skin. Such as it’s transparency and position.
Refresh Skin is another useful option which must be clicked when you make any change to your skin by editing it’s ini file.
The most important menu is the Rainmeter menu which contains options to change your skins, layouts, saves and other deeper options. I’ll leave it to you to find out what these do.
If all you needed to know was how to set up rainmeter and get a hang of the basics, you can stop reading here and go to get your preferred theme.
How to add new skins?
In your context menu, under the rainmeter menu, you can find all your installed skin suites. Navigating further will open up all the available skins. You can select the .ini of a skin to toggle it on and off as seen in the above screenshot.
Alternately, you can also add and manage all your skins by selecting the Manage Skins option from the context menu. Remember to load/unload your skins when you’re there to toggle them on and off.
Where do I begin?
For starters, you need more skins. I recommend Omnimo, one of the most popular skins in rainmeter to start things off for you. While Omnimo is relatively simple, it is very clean and offers loads of functionality with it’s vast selection of skins.
You should also check out some cool setups using Omnimo for some inspiration and ideas. Once you get the hang of things, you can move on to mixing different skin suites and setting up your own layout.
What works best?
As I’ve learnt from experience there are 3 things that make up a stunning desktop.
Make sure you have a high quality wallpaper that will accentuate your layout. Build your layout around this wallpaper instead of putting them up randomly. It might also help to hide your desktop icons.
Less is More
As tempting as it can be, don’t add too many skins and clutter up your desktop. Have only what you find essential. Empty space is beautiful. And it helps when you can see the wallpaper.
It’s not all about the looks. Rainmeter can make the way you work twice as fast with the right set up. Skins for app launchers, feeds and other resources will give you everything you need at just a click away.
Other Useful Resources
For all your rainmeter skin needs, there’s an abundance of them in the deviantart’s rainmeter section for your selection. Once you download a skin, simply run the file or follow instructions as read in the download page. After which, your new skin can be reached and enable through the context menu or manage menu as we saw before.
If you wish to learn more in detail about everything rainmeter has to offer, be sure to check out the official Rainmeter Documentation.
Theme Raider has used rainmeter in several of it’s themes before including the popular Iron Man theme and the Windows 8 theme using the Omnimo skin. Be sure to keep checking Theme Raider for more layouts in the future.
There is more to rainmeter once you understand the basics of how to get new themes and set up your desktop. But that’s for another day.
Got a question or two?
Things can get confusing if you can’t find what you’re looking for but don’t worry. Let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to clear things up.
Or if you’ve got everything figured out, be sure to post your new desktop in all it’s glory. Either way, good luck~!