How to use an animated GIF as a wallpaper with Rainmeter

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Without a doubt, GIFs have become a cornerstone of internet culture. A typical online feed these days contains hundreds of funny, informative, or adorable GIFs.

Did you know you could bring your love of GIFs to your desktop? There are different ways to create GIF wallpapers on Windows, but using the popular Windows program named Rainmeter, you can put as many GIFs on your desktop as you want.

Prerequisites for creating GIFs with Rainmeter

Rainmeter is truly a remarkable desktop customization software. You can do many things like create your own desktop skins or even create custom desktop icons using Rainmeter.

Before jumping straight to the steps, you need to make sure you have the following:

This guide is organized into sections to help you follow along. You just need to follow the steps in order to avoid any errors in the final results.

INI File Setup

An INI file is a text file that tells the software how to operate and what settings to use. An INI file in Rainmeter links your images to the software, then animates them to create an animated GIF effect on your desktop wallpaper.

To get started, you must first create a unique INI file for Rainmeter by following these steps:

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1. Navigate to the Rainmeter root directory, which is located in C:Users[PC Name]DocumentsRainmeterSkins. In this directory, create a new folder with a name of your choice, for example, GIF.


GIF folder in explorer

2. In this folder, create your INI file. To do this, right-click inside your GIF directory and select New > Text document.

3. When done, open the newly created text file and paste the following code:

Here are a few things to note about this piece of code:

  • Image name: You need to replace [GIF Folder Name] with the name you gave to the folder containing your GIF.
  • Formula: The formula will load the number of images you specify for your GIF. It is up to you to change this setting from [*] to the amount required for your GIF, with one added (34 images require an input of 35).
  • L and H: W stands for width and H for height. This will control the size of your GIF on your desktop background.
  • Maintain proportions: This will prevent your image from distorting. Enabling this setting will allow you to change your W or H settings while preserving the entire image.

In general, some GIFs may contain only 10 images, while others may span hundreds of images. This number is simple to verify and further explanation will be provided in the next section.

To note: Do not confuse Formula with Update, which controls the playback speed of your GIF.


Rainmeter INI File Overview

4. Now save your text document, name it something simple and include the .ini extension. Name your file with the INI extension, cafe.ini for example will allow Rainmeter to recognize your file.

Editing the GIF for Rainmeter

With Rainmeter, you cannot directly set a GIF file as your wallpaper. Instead, you’ll need to split your GIF file into parts first, and then use the parts with Rainmeter.

To configure Rainmeter to use your preferred GIF file, carefully follow these steps:

  1. Create a folder inside your GIF folder named @Resources. This folder will contain the images linked to your INI file.
    Resource folder in explorer
  2. In the newly created folder, you need to create another folder. Name this folder something related to your GIF for easy location. For example, we named the folder containing our GIF files Coffee.
  3. Finally, place your desired GIF in this folder.

Now that you have a GIF to work with, you need to use a splitter program that compiles your GIF into an assortment of unique GIF images. These are the images you will use to create your live wallpaper.

Split your GIF file

After performing all the steps mentioned above, now you need to split your GIF. This process is simple and can be automated using Ezgif.

1. Visit Ezgif.com and upload your GIF file. The Splitter feature will allow you to download and split your GIF into individual GIF images.

2. Once you have split your image, download the ZIP file containing your images and move them to the appropriate GIF folder.


Split GIF Online in Ezgif

3. Unzip the file. You should now have your original GIF file, a zipped file, and your individual images.

4. Delete both the original GIF and the compressed file, leaving only your individual images.


Unzipped GIF images in explorer

5. Now rename your GIF files. Your INI file determines the images captured in Rainmeter. INI script supports named images Framework_[ImageNumberCalc].gifwhich results in files named frame_1.gif, frame_2.gif, frame_3.gif, etc.

This works well for the automatic format that EZGIF uses for its images. There are many methods to batch rename all files at once, the easiest of which is the Bulk Rename Utility (BRU).

Batch rename split files

Here are some quick steps to help you batch rename split files on Windows:

  1. Open the Batch Rename Utility software that you installed earlier.
  2. Copy and paste your images and select them all in the program.
    Bulk Rename Utility Overview
  3. Now increase the Last n parameter under Remove for 12. This will remove the end of your files and preserve the frame_[Number] format.
  4. Click on Rename in the lower right corner of BRU to apply.
    Bulk Rename Utility Tool
  5. Finally, modify the Formula parameter in your original INI file. To replace [*] with the number of images your GIF includes, plus one.

Enable your GIF in Rainmeter

You are really close to the final stages of applying your live wallpaper. Follow the steps below to enable your GIF in Rainmeter:

  1. Open your Manage Rainmeter window and select Refresh all.
    Manage the Rainmeter Window
  2. Locate and double-click the INI file for your GIF, and it should appear on your desktop. If you want to display multiple GIFs on your desktop, make a copy of your root GIF file and edit your files as needed.
  3. Once it appears on your wallpaper, remember to restart once.

Although this skin requires CPU usage, it will not affect general PC performance. If you decide GIFs aren’t for you, you can make parallax wallpapers with Rainmeter instead.

GIF-ify your desktop with Rainmeter

We are sincere supporters of everything Rainmeter. Using a little know-how, there’s no limit to what Rainmeter can do for your desktop experience, even creating interactive live wallpapers.

There are no doubt other ways to achieve the same results, but using Rainmeter gives you an edge over others. It is a versatile tool that works as an all-in-one software to enhance your overall experience.

It’s not just a GIF or a static wallpaper; you can even download different skins from the internet and install them on your desktop with just one click.


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