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Skin Tutorials

Skin Tutorials

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Published by Eugine Nisperos

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Published by: Eugine Nisperos on Feb 04, 2012
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Skin Tutorials

While Rainmeter does include some very nice skins, many people like to create their own. While Rainmeter was designed to make skin creation simple, it is not necessarily intuitive for new skinners. To help we have created a set of tutorials that will teach you how to make some simple skins. But first, there are some basics that you need to know. If you have read the rest of Rainmeter 101, then feel free to skip this since it will cover similar ground. Otherwise, read ahead!

How to edit skins
Editing skins is a very simple matter. While every skin is a file with the extension ".ini", they're really just regular text documents. You can open any skin file with Notepad (or your preferred text editor) and edit them directly. It is important that your editor be a plaintext editor. That means no programs like Microsoft Word, Works, OpenOffice.org or any other document editor. You'll want one that does just text without the formatting. Once a skin is edited, Rainmeter will reflect the changes the next time it is refreshed. If the skin is already running, you will have to refresh it manually. Otherwise, just start the skin and your changes should be there.

How to create a new skin
To create a skin, you must first find your skins folder. If you installed Rainmeter normally, the skins folder will be found in one of these locations: Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\Your Name\My Documents\Rainmeter\Skins\ Windows Vista and 7: C:\Users\Your Name\Documents\Rainmeter\Skins Basically, just head over to "My Documents" and look for the "Rainmeter" folder. In there you'll find the "Skins" folder. Once you're in there, make a new folder. Call this folder whatever you like. Within this folder make a new text document and call it whatever you like. Make sure that the text document's file extension is ".ini" and not ".txt". There you have it. You now have a brand new, albeit empty, skin. If you right-click the Rainmeter icon in the taskbar and choose "Refresh All", your new skin will be available for use. Don't start it up yet though, it doesn't do anything!

How to install skins
If you have a skin that was downloaded from he internet, installing it is very similar to creating a new skin. First, if the skin came in an archive (such as ".zip" or ".rar") you will need to extract it. Once the files are extracted, make sure that they are all contained within a single folder. Often, skin makers will havev this folder already in the archive. Otherwise, you will have to make it yourself. Move this folder to your Skins directory (one of the paths show in the section above). If Rainmeter is already running, right-click the icon in the taskbar and choose "Refresh All". Your downloaded skin should now appear in the "Configs" list.

Loading a skin
To load a skin, first make sure that Rainmeter is already running. Right-click the icon in the taskbar to open the context menu and navigate to "Configs". Here, a list of all of the folders in your Skins directory should appear. From there just choose the folder holding the skin you want

and load up the appropriate .ini file. NOTE: You can only load one .ini file from a specific folder at once. If you want two skins to run simultaneously you will need to have each one in its own folder.

A word about the tutorials
Now that you know how to actually make, install and load the files for skin, you can move on to the real meat of skin creation. The following tutorials will start off simple and get more and more complex, each one adding new concepts of Rainmeter. The good thing is that at the end, you will always have something to show for it. If you are new to Rainmeter, it is highly recommended that you go through these in order, as each one will assume that you understand the concepts of the previous tutorial. That being said, it is highly recommended that you play with the skins! When you are given values, change them around to see what happens. Make all of these tutorial skins look the way you want them to. Rainmeter is all about customization, so don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. Good luck! If you’ve ever seen one of those super-customized desktops that are sometimes featured on Lifehacker, you might have wondered just how they put them together—so today we’ll take a quick tour through Rainmeter, the desktop customization utility. Note: this guide isn’t really meant for the serious geek, as you’ll probably already understand most of what we’re discussing. If you have any advice for new users, however, please feel free to offer your tips in the comments.

Installing and Using Rainmeter
The first thing you’ll need to do is grab a copy of the latest version of the Rainmeter installer, which as of this writing is version 1.3. Running through the setup is as simple as clicking through a couple of screens, deciding whether or not you want Rainmeter to start with Windows, and which them you want as the default theme —Gnometer is now the default choice, and that’s what we’ll talk about today.

Once you’ve installed and launched Rainmeter, you’ll immediately notice the bar at the top of the screen, and a couple of default widgets including the Settings dialog. From here you can customize the placement of the bar and whether it should appear as a bar, floating panel, or transparent.

Under the Skin Settings, you can configure extra settings for some of the available widgets—for instance, if you want to put in your Gmail or Google Calendar details, or configure Facebook, this is where you’d need to go.

In this example, we want to customize the Weather gadget to show the weather for our location. If you click on the instructions link, it will open up the Gnometer maual—which is oddly enough implemented on a web page and requires Flash. (Hey developers: that’s annoying!)

Since the weather widget uses Weather.com, if you head over there and find your location, you’ll be able to see the 8 character code that you need to paste into the settings dialog. It should look something like this:

Most of the widgets require some type of setup, which is a mostly manual process—you’ll have to figure out the settings for each one and check in the manual. Once you’re done, you might wonder how to close the Settings panel, since there’s no close button anywhere. To close it, you’ll do it the same way you’ll close any Rainmeter widget, by simply right-clicking and choosing “Close Skin” from the menu. You can also edit or refresh the skin from this menu if you choose.

To launch the Settings dialog again, just right-click on any widget or the top bar and choose Gnometer –> Settings.ini from the menu.

You can also add new widgets through the right-click menu by simply navigating to one of the items under the Gnometer menu and clicking it.

The one slightly annoying thing about this is that all the widgets show up in the upper-left corner, so if you have a widget there already, they will overlap and you’ll have to move it.

You can also use the included RainBrowser application to find widgets and organize them. They can be added directly to the desktop from this application, or you can refresh all the widgets, edit them, or browse the folder that the skin is stored in.

You can also use the included RainThemes application to save a copy of your theme in case you want to try out something else, or setup multiple themes for different reasons.

There’s a real lot more to Rainmeter than what we’ve covered, but this should at least get you started putting system stats and other widgets on your desktop. In future articles, we’ll talk about some more geeky aspects of using Rainmeter, including editing themes and creating your own widgets.

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