If you’ve ever considered setting up an animated desktop background or live wallpapers in Windows 10, it isn’t really a simple process.
However, many people desire this because it lets you make better use of external screens or a TV you may have your computer connected to. Imagine the ability to display a live fireplace or a virtual fishbowl on those screens when you’re not using them!
Drawbacks to Live Wallpapers & Animated Desktops in Windows 10
There are certainly benefits to having an animated desktop, but it can also adversely affect your system in the following ways:
- Will drain your battery if you’re using it on a laptop without the power plugged in
- Might put additional demand on your CPU
- Could end up being more of a distraction than a help when it comes to productivity
There are multiple methods to add live wallpapers and animated backgrounds on Windows 10. These include:
- Desktop Live Wallpaper
- VLC Media Player
- PUSH Video Wallpaper
- Wallpaper Engine
- Stardock DeskScapes 10
Free Live Wallpaper & Animated Desktop Apps
We’ll start with the option offered by Microsoft and then continue with exploring the remaining free options. At the end of this article, we’ll cover the three paid options available.
1. Desktop Live Wallpaper for Windows 10
You can get the Desktop Live Wallpaper app on the Microsoft Store. This app lets you use any video file on your PC as life wallpaper.
It supports up to three monitors and will only play when you’re not using that particular desktop. This is a great way to conserve your battery and CPU. Keep in mind that you can only use Windows Media Viewer (WMV) video files as the live wallpaper. If you want to use other video formats, you have to purchase the Pro software.
Select Help & About to see online resources where you can choose from hundreds of free video files to download and use as your live wallpaper.
Note: You can use any online resource to convert video files to WMV so they work with the free version.
2. Use VLC Media Player for Live Wallpapers
One of the less commonly known ways to set live wallpaper on Windows 10 is using the free VLC media player. To do this, launch the video in the player. Then select Video from the menu, and select Set as Wallpaper.
This will put the video in full-screen mode. When you press the Windows key, the taskbar and any other application you open will open in front of the full-screen video.
It’s important to note that the video doesn’t loop. So VLC is best used to set a live wallpaper from a movie or a very long animated scene.
3. PUSH Video Wallpaper
This application lets you use videos as your desktop wallpaper. It lets you play videos from your computer, videos from YouTube, or even an animated GIF you like as well. PUSH video wallpaper supports Windows Vista Ultimate Dreamscene video wallpapers. It’s very easy to find free collections of these online. You can download the app for displaying any video you like, or individual animated desktops from the site’s download page.
Using this app is very simple. Select the plus icon on the right to browse to any video file on your computer. Once you select it and it’s added to your playlist, just select that file and it’ll play as your live desktop background. If you want to use a YouTube video or movie as your background, select the link icon with a plus over it (second from the right) and enter the URL for the video.
Use the controls on the upper right to select whether to play the videos in your playlist in order, shuffled, in an interval, or whether to loop any individual ones.
Rainmeter is easily the most popular application in use today to achieve an animated desktop background. We have a guide on how to use Rainmeter, and you can install and use any skins without having to know any advanced customizations.
Installing a skin is as simple as finding one online (there are Rainmeter skin collections all over the internet), and just downloading and double-clicking the file.
It installs automatically and immediately takes effect on your desktop. Rainmeter skins are some of the coolest looking animated backgrounds you’ll find anywhere.
This is because it’s not only an animated design, but most skins include valuable information. You’ll see clocks, weather, system information, news from the web, and much more. If you want to go beyond simple animated backgrounds, this is definitely the place you should start.
Paid Live Wallpaper and Animated Desktop Apps
The last three apps that can help you load some of the coolest live wallpaper or animated desktops are not free. However, that also means they’re professionally done and offer lots of great features.
5. Wallpaper Engine
If you’d like control of what your animated desktops look like, then Wallpaper Engine is a good option.
This app lets you either load from an existing live wallpaper collection. Or you can animate your own images with the Wallpaper Engine Editor to create your own live wallpapers.
You can also use your own videos or import them from the web. This is a great animated wallpaper app for more creative types.
It also isn’t very expensive. You can install the app for only $3.99.
6. Stardock DeskScapes 10
DeskScapes is an animated desktop app offered by Stardock. It’s one of the simpler animated desktop apps to use. There are no editing features, but the collection of desktops you have to choose from is significant. Just select the Local tab to see the included desktops. You can also use videos that you’ve saved on your own computer if you like.
Or select the Online tab to see the desktops that DeskScapes has included from internet-based sources.
Both of these lists are very long and cover a long list of categories that include in total thousands of animated desktops. You’ll likely never run out of any to choose from.
You can buy DeskScapes for only $4.99.
Another creative live wallpaper app is Plastuer. This animated background app lets you use an animated GIF, video, or even web pages, as your live wallpaper. Plastuer is built on the Chromium open source browser, so incorporates some of the more advanced technologies like WebGL and Canvas.
It will detect when you’re using an application maximized and pause animation to cut down on resource usage. It’ll also remember the wallpaper you saved so the next time you log in, the animated desktop will launch automatically. In addition to GIFs and videos, you can import DreamScenes, WebGL video, or even bring in images you’ve captured with your own camera.
You can get install Plastuer for only $5.
Using Live Wallpapers and Animated Desktops
As you can see, none of these apps are very complicated to use. But the benefit of having an animated desktop from a video file or from data is huge. With a little creativity, you could actually transform your own desktop into another area of your screen for even more productivity. Or, you can just make it a place of beauty to gaze at whenever you need to take a break.