Customize Your Windows Desktop With Rainmeter


If you’re interested in customizing your Windows desktop, you’ve likely heard of Rainmeter. For the uninitiated, Rainmeter is an application for Windows that allows you to customize your desktop with a variety of mini-applications and widgets called “skins,” greatly expanding the capabilities of your Windows desktop.

Here we take an in-depth look at Rainmeter and walk you through how to acquire it, install it, set it up and find some “skins” of your own to use.

System Requirements

Hold up just a second there – you’re going to need some things before proceeding with the installation and setup of Rainmeter:

  • Windows 7 or higher: some features require Windows 10 or Windows 11.
  • Visual C++ redistributable packages

In addition, you should be aware that some “skins” require that you set them up on your own and may have special hardware requirements. Be sure to read the documentation before installing any skin. We demonstrate how to install and configure skins later in this article.


Download Rainmeter from its official site. Be sure to select the latest “Final Release” to ensure stability. If you have an older Windows version, you might have better compatibility with an older Rainmeter build.

Rainmeter Desktop Windows Download Page
  1. Open the Rainmeter installer. You’ll be given two install options. For this guide, we are choosing “Standard,” not “Portable.”
Rainmeter Desktop Windows Standard Installation
  1. In one of the installation steps, you’re given the choice to enable launching Rainmeter at startup. We’re keeping this enabled, but if you use an older computer with a longer startup time, you may not want Rainmeter to launch automatically.
Rainmeter Desktop Windows Launch On Startup
  1. It does not take very long for Rainmeter to install on a Windows machine. Once it is done, click “Finish” to close the setup window.
Rainmeter Desktop Windows Completing Setup
  1. You can launch Rainmeter anytime from the Search bar or as a desktop application.

Rainmeter Configuration

The first time you launch Rainmeter, your desktop will be changed to look similar to the following image.

Rainmeter Desktop Windows First Time

This displays Illustro, Rainmeter’s default package and the skin combination that loads automatically. You’ll see a welcome splash in the center of your screen with counters for time, system usage and disk usage in the top-right corner of your screen. You can remove these by right-clicking them, opting for “Variants,” then deselecting its “.ini” file.

Rainmeter Desktop Windows Disabling Ini Files

You can also remove Illustro and other skins by right-clicking anywhere inside the app dock and selecting “Unload skin” (at the bottom).

Rainmeter Desktop Windows Unload Skin

There’s a distinct Settings menu to control preferences such as transparency, position, and whether you want the app dock to fade in or fade out during hovering or be draggable on your desktop.

Rainmeter Desktop Windows Transparency Selected

To get started with customizations, right-click the Rainmeter icon in the taskbar and click “Manage.”

Rainmeter Desktop Windows Manage Rainmeter

The Manage window is where you start to get into the functionalities of the program. Let’s go ahead and walk through each one.

1. Skins

“Skins” displays the list of skins Rainmeter has in its directory, whether you’ve installed them through a “.rmskin” file (like most skins) or manually placed them in Rainmeter’s skins directory.

Rainmeter Desktop Windows Manage Active Skins Directory

To find the directory path, click on the tiny folder button next to “Active skins.” This will open a new window where you can search for the skins saved to the existing directory. You can add a new folder if you want for these downloaded skins.

The default set of skins that comes with Rainmeter is Illustro, which offers various counters, monitors and even a nifty little Google search function to give a slight idea of what Rainmeter is capable of.

Remember that Rainmeter skins range in functionality from basic widgets to what could be considered full applications in themselves. In this tab, you can easily manage your active skins as well as refresh them to account for edits or changes.

2. Layouts

“Layouts” saves and manages certain layouts for your skins. The default layout is the one you see whenever you open the program. Using “Layouts,” you can save your favorite Rainmeter setup for the next time you reset your computer or relaunch Rainmeter. This setup is important if you want Rainmeter to become a big part of your daily desktop usage.

Rainmeter Desktop Windows Manage Layouts Edit

If you want to replace the default Illustro, give it a new name, select it in “Saved layouts,” then click “Edit.”

Rainmeter Desktop Windows Manage Layouts Replace

3. Game Mode

Rainmeter’s “Game mode” allows you to use the Rainmeter tray icon to exit and re-enter your PC’s game mode. It can be enabled for full-screen games. This enables you to check your email or a browser on the desktop during an ongoing game and to go back to gaming once you’re done. For each situation, you will need to modify the “On start” and “On stop” settings.

Rainmeter Desktop Windows Manage Game Mode

4. Settings

Finally, “Settings” gives you access to basic settings, such as update options, language settings and selecting which application should launch whenever you’re editing certain skins. There’s no reason to change any of this for most people, but if you’d like all of your skins to stay in one place, you could always check “Disable dragging” in case someone else uses your computer or you worry about accidentally changing things.

Rainmeter Desktop Windows Manage Settings

How to Install and Use Rainmeter Skins

To us, this is the best part about using Rainmeter. Let’s move on to installing and using skins!

1. Find and Install Skins

Rainmeter has a bustling community of developers making various skins focused on high levels of aesthetic appeal, added functionality or both. The possibilities are essentially a whole blue ocean, but for the sake of this tutorial, we won’t cover all of that. Instead, we show you how to find skins and install them, followed by some of our own recommendations at the end of the tutorial.

Rainmeter’s own website recommends DeviantArt, Lifehacker, Discord, Reddit and its own forums as places to find quality Rainmeter skins. You can also use a website called VisualSkins, which has a superb collection of Rainmeter packages. If you’re a Reddit fan, for instance, you can visit r/Rainmeter to search for skins.

You’ll find complete and elaborate skins with multiple elements, and the links to where you can download them (which is usually DeviantArt).

We found this nice Rainmeter skin posted on the Rainmeter subreddit but only wish to retain the clock/date element from it.

Windows Rainmeter Skin Found On Reddit
  1. To obtain it, scroll down the Reddit thread to where the poster is handily linked to all the elements, including “Time and Date.”
Windows Rainmeter Reddit Deviantart Link Rainmeter Skin
  1. Download it from the DeviantArt page. (The download button is a bit hidden, so look carefully.)
Windows Rainmeter Deviantart Downloading
  1. Once you have the skin, open the file, which should be a “.rmskin” file. (It may be in an archived folder, which you need to extract.) Double-click it to open a pop-up window as shown in the next step.
Windows Rainmeter On Pc Downloaded Rainmeter Installer
  1. Click “Install” in the Rainmeter Skin Installer.
Windows Rainmeter Click Install
  1. The downloaded and installed Date and Time Rainmeter skin appeared on my desktop as shown here.
Windows Rainmeter View Installed Skin
  1. After you’ve done this, it’s time to start using your skins from the Manage Rainmeter panel.
Windows Rainmeter Installed Rmskin

2. Using Your Skins

Once you’ve installed your skins, you may be confused initially as to how to actually add them to your desktop.

  1. Right-click the Rainmeter icon in your system tray and choose “Rainmeter.”
  2. Click on “Skins,” then pick the skin you downloaded. (In our case, “Iron Man Mark 7.”)
Rainmeter Desktop Windows Installing New Skins
  1. Once you have a skin on your desktop, you can hold a left-click to drag it around your screen and put it where you would like or right-click it for a set of additional options.
Windows Rainmeter Installed Rmskin Right Click Additional Options
  1. These include “Variants” that allow you to use different versions of the same skin. Usually, it’s different sizes or styles. There’s also “Settings” that lets you handle the options listed, transparency being among the most prominent, while other options bring you back into the Rainmeter menu we detailed above. All of your primary functionality is covered here, and generally, you shouldn’t need to do anything aside from the options listed.
Rainmeter Desktop Windows Different Skins Installed
  1. To remove a skin from your desktop, right-click it and click “Unload skin.”
Rainmeter Desktop Windows Unload Installed Skin
  1. To reload it to reflect the changes you’ve made, select “Refresh skin.”
Rainmeter Desktop Windows Refresh Skin

For the most part, you shouldn’t need to tweak these other options, but if you want to change their behavior or appearance slightly, now you know how.

3. Modify Rainmeter Skins

Don’t like the default appearance of your Rainmeter skin? You can easily modify it from its configuration settings using Notepad.

  1. Navigate to the folder where the Rainmeter skin has been installed.
  2. Double-clicking the configuration settings file will open it in Notepad.
  3. You can tweak the various skin settings in the Notepad file. In the following example, we are slightly modifying the color bar and color text properties of Illustro’s Clock skin.
Rainmeter Desktop Windows Modify Skins

4. Show System Stats on Rainmeter

Many of the most useful Rainmeter skins are the ones that show things like your CPU usage, GPU usage, temperatures, RAM usage and so on, letting you glimpse this usually elusive data just by looking at your desktop.

For many of these, however, you’ll need to link Rainmeter to third-party apps like HWiNFO to get that detailed data (like GPU and CPU temperature). This can be a pretty elaborate process, so if you want to go down this particular rabbit hole, we recommend heading to the official Rainmeter site for a guide on integrating Rainmeter with HWiNFO.

From here, the rest is up to you. With so many great Rainmeter skins, you’re sure to find a few that appeal to you!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I uninstall Rainmeter?

Uninstalling Rainmeter is very easy. Just right-click on the Rainmeter icon in System Tray, click “Exit,” then uninstall it from “Apps & Features” or the Control Panel.

Does Rainmeter use a lot of RAM?

No. Rainmeter is a very lightweight application for Windows devices. It does not create any burden on your RAM or CPU resources. However, if you have an older PC, consider disabling Rainmeter from the Start menu. In that case, you have to manually reload Rainmeter on reboot after your desktop is visible. Any “.RMSKIN” package you download online is also very lightweight.

Does Rainmeter quickly drain the battery?

No. Although Rainmeter helps provide detailed information on RAM, CPU, and clock usage, it does not directly derive that data from your motherboard hardware. Consequently, Rainmeter has negligible impact on a computer’s battery life.

Are Rainmeter skins safe to use?

Some Rainmeter skins may have malware, so you need to be careful with the download source. Generally, Rainmeter skins downloaded from the Rainmeter-recommended websites listed above will not pose any problems.

How do I add a background to Rainmeter?

Rainmeter background options can be accessed by right-clicking it, then selecting “Manage Rainmeter -> Layout.” You can also do it directly from the “Skin path” folder. And what better way to complement your Rainmeter desktop than with a beautiful 4K background?

Image credit: ChristopherPluta via Pixabay. All screenshots by Sayak Boral.

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