Here you will find links to a selection of the best freeware tools to download for customizing your Desktop's appearance the way you like it. If you have any recommendations or comments please feel free to email me with them or write a review.
How many times have you walked up to a system in your office and needed to click through several diagnostic windows to remind yourself of important aspects of its configuration, such as its name, IP address, or operating system version? If you manage multiple computers you probably need BGInfo. It automatically displays relevant information about a Windows computer on the desktop's background, such as the computer name, IP address, service pack version, and more. You can edit any field as well as the font and background colors, and can place it in your startup folder so that it runs every boot, or even configure it to display as the background for the logon screen.
Stardock BootSkin is a program that allows users to change their Windows 2000 and Windows XP boot screens.
Unlike other programs that can change the Windows XP boot screens, BootSkin does so in a safe manner. It doesn't patch the Windows XP kernel. Nor does it require the user to download replacement Windows XP kernels to do so.
This has 2 advantages: 1) Boot screens that use BootSkin are typically under 20K compared to other boot screen programs whose files are over 2 MEGABYTES. 2) There is no risk of having your system unable to boot due to a corrupted file or after applying a service pack.
And best of all, BootSkin is free.
Stardock CursorFX is a program that lets you use and create incredibly cool looking Windows mouse cursors. It does this by taking advantage of the new visual effects features of Windows XP and Windows Vista. Adding a shadow under Windows XP and Vista was hardly a great advance and therefore CursorFX exists to give you more-much more.
CyberBuddy freeware desktop utility program using Microsoft Agents. Animated cartoon characters using text to speech deliver news headlines, local weather, time, reminders, stock quotes, email, internet speed, Caller ID and more. Along with with spam filtering, instant messaging with text-to-speech or voice make this the most versatile and fun desktop utility available. And it's free! The cute animated characters work in the background, gathering information while you do other things. When they have something to tell you, they popup, deliver their message, then disappear. You tell CyberBuddy what you want it to look for, and when to tell you about it. For example, tell it what news categories you'd like to hear about, how often to check for news and whether only to tell you about it when the news changes. For stocks, tell it that you want to hear about a stock when it goes up, down or changes outside of some limits you have set. It's extremely flexible. You can even have different characters deliver the content of different functions. CyberBuddy is a must have.
Download Desktop Architect
Desktop Architect is a complete freeware theme-management system. Desktop Architect gives you complete control over all theme elements, with full previews of everything. Support for the Active Desktop and preview of its elements are also included. The theme install/package wizards make using and distributing themes simple.
Download Desktop Dreamscapes
Scenes are rendered in real-time using your 3D video card, while you continue to use you PC. Set it as your desktop wallpaper, your screen saver, or both. Add distinctiveness to your desktop, liven up your PC! Your friends and co-workers will be amazed that you have LIVE 3D ON YOUR DESKTOP!
Download Desktop Sidebar
Desktop Sidebar provides you with instant access to the information you most desire by grabbing data from your PC and the internet. The result is a dynamic visual display you configure and control. How can you make this possible? Choose from among a wide selection of information conduits (e.g. MS Outlook, toolbars, newsfeeds), called "panels". Fully customizable, Desktop Sidebar allows you to dock these panels to the edge of the screen, or arrange them anywhere on your desktop as you wish. All panels are configurable with a number of specific options. With hundreds of skins available in our Extension Exchange Page and an easy to use Skin Editor, you can freely change the appearance of Desktop Sidebar to suit your tastes.
Download Free Launch Bar
Free Launch Bar is a Free replacement for the standard Quick Launch bar. All functions presented in Quick Launch are also in Free Launch Bar. However, the Free Launch Bar is fully compatible with Quick Launch because it uses the same folder for shortcuts. But there is one huge difference. Free Launch Bar allows you to combine your shortcuts into groups. This feature looks like popup menus. This vastly improves the management of your shortcuts and save working space on your desktop. By using Free Launch Bar, you speed up the launching of your applications like never before. Free Launch Bar is the excellent replacement for Quick Launch, it uses the same technology. Free Launch Bar is the only FREE software that can be integrated into taskbar. If your Quick Launch have some tens of shortcuts, Free Launch Bar help you to organize them into nice menus. You do not need to open stupid dialog boxes to add, remove or rearrange shortcuts - all you need Drag&Drop or right-click shortcut.
Download Icon Tweaker
IconTweaker is a free tool to customize Windows icons.
Changing the default icons gives your desktop a personal look and customizing icons of individual drives and folders can make it easier for you to recognize them.
The themes systems let's you apply a set of icons with a single click and allows designers to share their icons with other people. Many themes with beautiful icons are already included and ready to use.
Download Logon Loader
Logon Loader makes the task of swaping logon screens easy. Simply select a new logon screen file and you're set! You can even preview your logon screens before selecting the one you want. Logon Loader also has the ability to randomly select a logon screen every time you log on.
Download Multimon Taskbar
The real multi-monitor support in Windows puts task-bar only in the primary monitor. The extended monitors are plain "taskbarless". Using this utility a secondary taskbar will be put on extended monitor. Also adds a move to monitor button on all Windows.
Multi-Patcher is a little program that patches your uxtheme.dll file to allow the loading of unsigned Windows XP Themes and XP Visual Styles. It supports SP1 and non-SP1 systems, and now in version 1.5.1 adds support for SP2 (beta version 2082) plus Windows Server 2003!
Multi-Patcher features include: Includes themes services which allow you to use visual styles in Windows Server 2003 in the wizard but you can also turn it on or off too during restore;
Operation system detection script prevents running the patch again without restarting.
Setup CD detection script;
Supports Windows XP build 2600, Windows XP build 2600 with Service Pack 1, build 1106, and Windows Server 2003 build 3790;
Users can restore the previous uxtheme.dll file by running the patch again;
Multi-Patcher is almost like an evolved PatchXP, with support for more Windows versions, error checking and the easy restore feature is a big plus (as service packs won't work with a patched uxtheme.dll file).
Download O&O DriveLED
O&O DriveLED takes the hard disk LED, which is built into your computer, and puts it right there on your monitor screen. And there's more - you can see information about activity on virtual drives, e.g. network drives, and you can easily tell the difference between disk reading and disk writing activity.
Power Menu is a small app that adds "Always On Top", "Minimize To Tray", "Priority" and "Transparency" sub menus to all top level system menus.
Remember Y's dock the program launcher like the dock in MacOS but for PC? Well, that was discontinued. But there's now an alternative! RocketDock is a smoothly animated, alpha blended application launcher. It provides a nice clean interface to drop shortcuts on for easy access and organization. With each item completely customizable there is no end to what you can add and launch from the dock.
StartBtn Renamer is a simple utility for renaming the [Start] button under Windows XP. With this
freeware tool, you can change default Label of the [Start] button with your own text. This is great
when you want to tease your friends or when you intend to have a greater variety in Windows...
what do you think about these labels: Virus, Hello, Begin, Enter, etc.
With this simple application you can easily patch your Windows Vista system to use custom styles. Similar to the UxTheme patch for Windows XP. After that you can modify your Aero style to use the glass transparency effect on maximized windows.
Download Vista Start Menu
Vista Start Menu is the convenient alternative to the plain Start menu you find in Windows XP and Windows Vista. The program uses your cognitive abilities (visual memory, reflexes,etc.); however, while it is easily understandable for beginners, it is also highly efficient for experienced users.