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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pro Tip: Trick Out Your Desktop with Rainmeter

Rainmeter logo

I was introduced to Rainmeter via this excellent Lifehacker article last year. Raimeter is a powerful desktop customization tool that lets you style your desktop to your heart's content. There are hundreds of modules and themes out there for you to choose from, and best of all, everything is completely free.

Rainmeter's usefulness immediately became apparent when I made the jump to a dual-monitor setup. Each skin suite includes a selection of widgets that can range from email and RSS readers to system monitoring tools and app launchers. Personally, I find Rainmeter useful for displaying system temps and monitoring CPU and GPU usage while gaming, a task which was previously relegated to the tiny LCD screen on my old Logitech G15 keyboard.

I won't go into too much detail here; the Lifehacker article I mentioned above does an excellent job of describing the customization process. Editing individual skins and creating custom layouts can be a time-consuming process, but thankfully there are several fully-featured skin suites available that provide a cohesive look with minimal effort. The Rainmeter site offers three recommended skin suites that are a good place to start. You can also check out deviantArt and for more options.

PC Games Beat custom Rainmeter setup

My second monitor is an old 17" LCD with a display resolution of 1280x1024. Since screen real estate is at a premium, my customized Rainmeter setup keeps everything organized at the top and bottom edges of the screen. The top edge of the screen displays system monitoring information (CPU and GPU temps/usage, RAM and HDD info) and a mini music player that can control iTunes. At the bottom of the screen lie a bandwidth monitor, clock, and weather display. Just about everything I could need is available at a quick glance.

I used the following skins in my layout along with some heavy editing:

I created custom CPU and GPU blocks by using the inputs from the SlimMeters and MSI Afterburner for Gnometer skins and framing the output in the same style as the rest of the Encoded blocks. I can post the files if there's an interest.

Check out the Rainmeter section of Lifehacker if you need some inspiration. Don't be afraid to experiment!


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