SacRat's Windows Customization blog
Interesting skinnable applications
Published on August 4, 2004 By sacrat In OS Customization
Greetings, user.
This time I'd liked to tell you about some interesting skinnable apps I use myself in my daily work.

The first one is called AltDesk.

AltDesk is a VDM application, so its main task is managing virtual Desktops. First of all, what for do you need more, than one Desktop on your computer? The anser is simple if you ever happened to work with a large amount of windows at the same time. If you tried browsing internet while working with your favorite text processor or drawing something in Photoshop (GIMP, Paint, whatever) you know, that finding a needful window by just clicking the titles or switching them via Taskbar takes some time. It might be a better idea to group your tasks and switch groups. That's how AltDesk works. For example, you create four virtual Desktops (enough for most tasks, even though you can make up to 255 of them). The first of them can be used for browing files, the second to work with the office apps and the third to surf the Net. The fourth may be set empty in case you need an empty Desktop.

Switching Desktops is easy. You can do it by clicking them with your mouse or by pressing a hotkey you defined in settings. Besides, each Desktop can have a unique name, shown when you switch to it. If you need to access any window, you can do it without bringing this window to the front. Rightclick its icon and you'll be able to close/minimize/resore this window, or select a needful task from the list. Surely, you can also drag windows between virtual Desktops.

AltDesk is skinnable. In other words you can change its appearance and behaviour (a bit) by applying skins. There are three main groups of skins available. The first one is freeform skins. Even being quite nice looking such skins usually take too much space on your Desktop. The second group is vertical skins, so in order to use them effectively you should place your virtual Desktop windows in columns. This may be interesting, but as both sides of my screen are used to call Aston Toolbars, I prefer the third type. Horizontal skins are IMHO the most effective way of using AltDesk. Such a skin usually covers a part of a window's header and thus takes nearly no space on your screen.

Surely, AltDesk cannot replace a good multimonitor set, but it's a good comprimise between using a single screen for all of your tasks and buying a couple of additional monitors (no need to say using AltDesk is a way cheaper).

The second interesting application is Rainmeter.

As any resource usage meter Rainmeter can display your CPU/memory/network bandwidth/etc... usage in a required form. It can ouput needful information as a text, graphs or animation, thus giving skinners a lot of possibilities to apply their imagination. Supporting freeform PNGs rainmeter skins can have whatever size and shape you need.

In the latest version Rainmeter yousers got possibility to monitor a needful resource (by default CPU) through the tray icon. Rightclicking the same icon you can pick up any skin and define itstransparency level, position and features, such as "click through" (you may click through the meter's window, so it takes no screen space, especially if you set transparency level near 50%). You can also display more, than one meter at the same time (in case you need it). So, what's the tag? It's the best skinnable resource usage monitor I know: easy to use, easy to skin, lots of features... No surprise, more and more skinners pay attention to it. be continued...

on Aug 05, 2004
Yhe, AltDesk is a great and very util program, i'm using it for a long time
...and i recomend it.