Cordelia’s Corner for the Complete Noob: Part 2

Just Exactly HOW do I Skin My Computer???

Tuesday, January 4, 2005 by Cordelia | Discussion: OS Customization

I explained what skinning was in my last article [link], but how does one go about skinning their desktop? If you skin your desktop how do you change it back? How do you download a skin? Where do you find skins? Do you need a taxidermists license to do this? What if you want to change your computer back?? What if your boss walks in while you are doing this?? Where's the beef?? What if my computer explodes??? Can I find any pink and purple skins with unicorns!? Will I lose all my data if I do this??? Why should I do this?? Why are you making me do this?? What is the sky blue?? Why?? What?? Who??

All right, first things first. Put your head between your knees and take a few deep breaths. That's right...calm down...

  • Let's get a few of the ground rules out of the way: Stardock and WinCustomize does not in any way condone or encourage you to use our products while at work, as we feel strongly that the employers rights should be respected and you should work while you are at work and play while you are at home and never embezzle your time from your boss. Having said that, your boss would probably be so impressed by your computer wizardry s/he would want to give you a promotion, and a happy employee is a good employee, so just make sure your boss isn't looking and let's get to work!

  • Your computer will not explode nor will you lose data, although it is a good idea to do a backup on a regular basis. Why don't you do that now while you are thinking about it? If you don't know how to backup your computer, here are links to two articles that should help: www.argentuma.com  and www.novastor.com.

  • I have never yet seen any skins that are pink and purple with unicorns, but then I am also a newcomer to the world of skinning. Maybe they are out there. Here's a note for all you veteran skinners if any of you happen to be reading this: there is a market you have been neglecting, that of "5 year old girl". Just a thought. I don't know how many 5 year olds hang out on WinCustomize, but it could happen.

  • I do not know why the sky is blue. Try this: Link. Warning! This link will take you to an online casino. I think this is also where the beef is.

NOW let's get down to business. Today's article is about how to begin skinning your computer.

Joy! You do not need to purchase anything to begin skinning your computer. You do need an Internet connection. As you are reading this article I'm assuming you have a connection already, so I'll skip the part where I explain how to set one up.

You will also need some software, called "WindowBlinds" (clever, eh?), that WinCustomize provides for free. Go here and get it. The software allows you to replace your current user interface with one of your own choosing. 

When you download the software, you'll need to save it to your computer. If you are not familiar with downloading and installing software then here is a tip: what you are downloading will not install the software to your computer. It is an "executable file" (.exe). You must save the downloaded file and then do some other stuff to set it up. When you click on download it will ask you if you want to run or save it. Choose to save it and make sure you save it to your computer somewhere you will remember!! Then find that file and install the software. Feel free to e-mail me separately if you have questions about this process.

If you already have WindowBlinds loaded then you don't need to go through this process.

Now for the fun part! You are already on www.wincustomize.com (I can only assume you are if you are reading this article) so scroll to the top of the page and click on the "Gallery" tab. The Gallery has many different sections for you to check out. Each one of these is a Gallery. Scroll down this list of Galleries until you find the "WindowBlinds Items" Gallery. You can either click on one of the items (skins) you see there, or click on the link for "More WindowBlinds Items". (The first items are the most recently uploaded skins).

No, I cannot help you pick out a skin you would like. You must browse through the library yourself and find one. "But they are all so pretty!" You reply. Yes, it's true! But here's the beauty of the WindowBlinds software: you can try on more than one skin. So pick one and let's get going. Have you picked one? No? Go back to the Gallery and pick one. Oh, ok, here are some recommendations.

Go on. Just pick one. Just put your mouse over and - no! Not that one!!!

Just kidding! Whatever you picked is fine. Click on the button that says "download". While you are at it, why not give the artist a good rating, and maybe add a comment since you are downloading his/her skin?

When you click on the download button it will ask you if you want to run the skin or save it. Click on save. Once again, you must remember where you are saving it! For me, anything I download off the Internet automatically goes into the "My Downloads" folder. You can save it anywhere you'd like, just remember where you've put it. You can also move it later if you want to.

Presumably you have now downloaded a skin. If you haven't then this article isn't going to be half as much fun for you, but who am I to judge?

Open WindowBlinds. It will look something like this (click on the thumbnail for a larger view):

Note: I am using the full version of WindowBlinds, so yours may not look exactly like mine. If you can't follow these instructions, please feel free to e-mail me for more details.

On the right side you will see "install skin from disk". Click on that. The program will take you to your documents, so browse around until you find the skin you just downloaded and click on "Load".

Now the skin should be in your library. The library is at the bottom - see where the yellow arrow on the left side is pointing? That is your library. Just click on the skin you want to install. If you have a lot of skins, they won't all be visible. You'll notice there are no scroll bars at the bottom, so how do you see all the skins? You can click on the first one and use the arrow keys on your keyboard to scroll through them. There might be other ways, but...I'm a newbie too.

The yellow arrow on the right side is pointing to the command: "apply this skin now". Click it. Go on, it'll be ok!

Oooh! I picked the skin "Faberge" by Pictoratus because at the time I wrote this it was the most recent addition to the library, and because I thought it looked cool. I was right, it is cool! Here is what my computer looks like now. If you like it, get it here.

Of course, the Windows background is messing up the "coolness". I followed Pictoratus' link to Skinartistry and downloaded the wallpaper. Ahh! Much better.

And that, my friends, are the basics on how to skin your computer. A very wise person (Karmagirl) once told me that once you start skinning you never want to go back. She is right. I reverted to the standard Windows XP interface so I could go through all the steps in writing this article, and looking at that interface hurts my eyes. It burns, IT BURNS!! Thank goodness for WindowBlinds.

If you have any questions about this article, please feel free to e-mail me. If you have other technical support question, I assure you I cannot answer them. Try this link.

Tomorrow's Article: "How to revert to the original Windows XP interface". Mwahaha! Mwahahahaha! I'm making you wait!

Daily hint for the noob:  You can comment on this and any other article all you want. If you post a comment requesting help with an issue, be prepared to wait for an answer. Requesting help via posting a comment to an article is not the fastest way to get help. E-mailing a specific individual is. Good luck!

You can find a primer on skinning written by Draginol here, if you want more information than I am giving you.

Make fun of my poorly drawn yellow arrows and win a free "outer space" writing utensil used by astronauts!!! Check it out! Link

(Offer not valid in countries where people live)

 

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Essencay
Reply #1 Tuesday, January 4, 2005 8:06 PM
Keep them coming Cordelia
Danny Bassette
Reply #2 Tuesday, January 4, 2005 8:24 PM
While I'm not a skinner, or user of skins, I did find your article very amusing
teddybearcholla
Reply #3 Tuesday, January 4, 2005 11:17 PM
Wonderful! And I really like the idea about skins for 5year old girls, all kids actually....
Bebi Bulma
Reply #4 Tuesday, January 4, 2005 11:25 PM
Amusing indeed! Now why didn't I see this when I first wanted to skin my computer...

Good article.
NightTrainthedark
Reply #5 Wednesday, January 5, 2005 7:00 AM
Yor articles are a pleasure to read. Keep em coming.
Cordelia
Reply #6 Wednesday, January 5, 2005 9:26 AM
Thanks everyone, I'll do my best!
eieio
Reply #7 Wednesday, January 5, 2005 9:47 AM
Excellent article and guide Cordelia. Of course, I'm also flattered that you used my skin in your screenshots.
Cordelia
Reply #8 Wednesday, January 5, 2005 10:17 AM
I've been enjoying the skin since you posted it. Thank YOU!
arabator
Reply #9 Wednesday, January 5, 2005 12:54 PM
hi there

nice article dude, im a newbie I admit it, and, of course, I have a question (wich may be stupid):
I have installed windowblinds and loaded a cool skin without problems, but it doesnt keep it when i restart the comp. ¿know what i mean?. Would like to know how to make my wndowblinds skin persistent.

Thank you to ya´ll wise folks.
bgveyron15
Reply #10 Wednesday, January 5, 2005 1:40 PM
when you go into wblinds and select the skin you want, be sure to click the "apply changes" command in the left toolbar under the "Windows Blinds" menu.
Good luck!
arabator
Reply #11 Wednesday, January 5, 2005 2:44 PM
yo! thanks. It worked. I could swear i did it the first time, but its obvious I did not!, now it works smoothly. Thank you bqveyron
Cordelia
Reply #12 Wednesday, January 5, 2005 3:02 PM
arabator: the first step is admitting you have a problem. Welcome to the ranks of the Newbies! I'm quite pleased that someone answered your question before I even saw it. The system works! Thanks bgveyron15!
CerebroJD
Reply #13 Wednesday, January 5, 2005 3:04 PM
Extremely good read! I like your articles...keep up the great work!
velveeta
Reply #14 Thursday, January 6, 2005 2:13 PM
Great!!! I was interested in this skinning concept, but totally did not understand how it worked...your article was perfect, explained clearly what to do. Ok, now I have mastered that...answer me this...how can I find icons to download, and how do I change them? I had a Xmas Theme that came with WindowBlinds, and now some of the icons stuck there when I changed skins, and I cannot get rid of them!!

Thanks ever so...
Cordelia
Reply #15 Thursday, January 6, 2005 4:02 PM
velveeta - I'm glad you found the article helpful. Sounds like you ran into a bug in the Xmas Theme you mentioned - was it Holiday Desktop? You should go get IconPackager here http://www.download.com/3000-2195-10255580.html?tag=pop (it's free to try) and then set the icons to "Windows Default". Friday's article is about IconPackager so keep an eye out!
Cordelia
Reply #16 Thursday, January 6, 2005 4:04 PM
Oh for goodness sakes, here's the link: http://www.download.com/3000-2195-10255580.html?tag=pop
Sarah Rodham
Reply #17 Thursday, January 6, 2005 5:34 PM
ok i have a nooby question, well i think so lol
what program do i need to install login screens??
thank you
CerebroJD
Reply #18 Thursday, January 6, 2005 5:44 PM
You need LogonStudio, which I believe is at this http://www.logonstudio.net
Sarah Rodham
Reply #19 Thursday, January 6, 2005 5:47 PM
thanks
Cordelia
Reply #20 Sunday, January 9, 2005 8:15 PM
Another satisfied customer. I hope you got the information you wanted Sarah Rodham. Thanks for answering hr CerebroJD!

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