Something New Sundays: How to beautify a PC

09Aug09

So, guys, you know I’m a graphic designer, right?

What you might not know is that I am a graphic designer with a dirty little secret.

I use a PC. And I like it.


COLLECTIVE GASP. OH NO SHE DIDN’T.

Yes, yes, it’s true, and for a variety of reasons, I’m pretty content (get it?? PC?? no? okay…) with my situation. Besides the obvious reasons that Macs and PCs do pretty much the same thing (and, yes, I spend a lot of time on both types of machines, so I can say this confidently), and I always love rooting for the underdog, and I loove the moolah-friendly aspects of my Dell…one of my favorite things about my PC is the ability to customize it beyond recognition. Because let’s be 100% honest: Macs epicly win in every aspect of aesthetics, both externally and internally. PCs straight out of the box just don’t cut it for me.

So whether you are a diehard PC-user, or a Steve Jobs protege forced to work on an evil PC for work, here’s how you can make your machine a little more beautiful (for only a little bit of money)…in only five steps!

Step One: skin the hell out of that PC.

Cost: Free to try, $20 to buy
A product called Window Blinds is the best friend you could ask for. This program allows you to change every aesthetic aspect of your internal layout: taskbar, windows, status bars, and on and on. The program comes with a few default skins that are workable at best, but the real meat comes from user-built themes you can download at WinCustomize. Two of my favorites are VReady and Eminence, which is currently being used on my laptop.


Step Two: Dock it up!

Cost: Free
One of my favorite features on Macs are the sleek and easily-accessible docks. Who says you can’t have the best of all worlds? Object Dock is a program that gives you a customizable dock, with even more options than a Mac. Love it when knockoffs do this. Static sizes, magnification sizes, highlight actions, text, shortcut images, transparency, color, and dock dividers can all be adjusted individually.
I spent a little bit of time searching deviantArt, and found some great icon sets there.

Step Three: Get yourself some widgets.

Cost: Free
You might be partial to the Mac’s separate widget screen function…but if you’re like me and enjoy keeping your widgets handy, go download the Yahoo Widgets program. This program provide a vast array of widgets to choose from to enhance your functionality or beautify your digital space. My favorites are the JS Sticky Deluxe, Calendar, and Global Clock.

Step Four: Learn better ways to navigate.

Cost: Free
Like the Mac F9 feature? Your PC has a little-known similar one: Alt+Tab. Cycle through all of your open programs/windows by holding Alt, and pressing Tab to select different windows.

Step Five: Adjust your computer’s visual settings.

Cost: $50 for the product’s entire features
There are probably other ways to do this, but I use my Norton SystemWorks settings to change the sizes of some of the fonts that can’t be adjusted through the Windows Blinds program. SystemWorks, of course, does a million other things, so this is just one small feature for a great program.

Step Six: Get yourself an awesome background

Cost: Free
The background used in all these images is from InterFacelift, which is a brilliant site with tons of great imagery. If you, like me, prefer to have some inspiring natural shots as your background, also check out Desktopography. And say you can’t get enough out of a Mac’s ability to have rotating backgrounds? ANOTHER fabulous product from Stardock will do that for you too!

All in all, you can end up with a computer that, while not nicer looking than a Mac when you started, has quite a bit more ability to be customized. And while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I’m quite happy with my final outcome.

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3 Responses to “Something New Sundays: How to beautify a PC”

  1. I have used ObjectDock and WindowBlinds before. Both quality programs.

    Of course, eventually I moved past trying to make my PC look more like a Mac and moved up to AutoHotkey. 😛

  2. I would recommend not paying money for Windowblinds and just patching your uxtheme.dll – free and opens you up to a HUGE number of themes.

    • Edit to post: Or, dear readers, if you have any idea how to patch your uxtheme.dll, or would like to contact Joel to do it for cheap(er), by all means throw the WindowBlinds option out the window!

      🙂


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