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Monday, October 16, 2006

Make any Screensaver as your desktop Wallpaper

You can run a screensaver, ANY screensaver as your Vista Desktop. System impact? Zero. Vista performance impact? Zero. So, are you ready to give it a try? It involves a bit of a hack. But if you are the farthest thing from a Windows power user, you can do the same thing via an application that automates the process. This tool will enable you to select the screen saver and schedule start-up rendering, absolutely no code involved! You can download the application via this link.

But if you want to get your hands dirty, here is the manual method. (courtesy of Long Zheng). Alternatively, you can also access the SoapBox video demonstration below.

Video: Make any screensaver as your desktop wallpaper

- Boot into Windows Vista, obviously
- Open the Spy++ tool, which is used to assist in software debugging. If you don’t have a copy, download it here.
- Use the “Window Search” icon, which is the binoculars icon in the toolbar.
- Drag the “Finder Tool” on to the desktop. The area surrounding the desktop should be bordered. Release mouse. Click “OK”.
- An item called “Folder View” should now be highlighted in the main window. Go up 2 parent items, and find “Program Manager”.
- There should be a bunch of characters on the left like “0002010C”, record this set of characters.
- Open the Hex to Decimal converter <>
- Insert your set of characters into the “HEX value” box. Copy the resulting “Decimal” value. This is your “Handle ID”.
- Open command prompt. Type in <<[Vista Drive]:WindowsSystem32mystify.scr /p [Your Handle ID]>>, you might end up with <>. Click Enter.

“With this practical yet simple method, you can emulate the look of Desktop Aurora without any system modifications or heavy impact on performance. However, it must also be said that this approach is very flawed, as it has several downsides that makes it impractical to use for extended periods of time. The concept is extremely simple. Run a screensaver on the desktop. But with the added power of DWM, you can get all the cool Glass effects on top of the screensaver, so it’s just like a real wallpaper. Screensavers has always supported the ability to be called to render on any surface to assist in development. But we can also utilize this method to create an interesting desktop background effect,” stated Zheng.

Ending the screensaver process via the Task Manager will terminate the desktop screensaver. But feel free to experiment. mystify.scr, ribbons.scr, aurora.scr and SSBranded.scr will all deliver an intense experience. “Whilst the result is fancy for a few minutes, it becomes impractical because the desktop icons are overlapped by the screensaver rendering. But since DWM renders on top of the screensaver, you get all the fancy translucent effects with the screensaver,” concluded Zheng.


  1. Anonymous said,

    Most of the screensavers don't work on a multi-monitor system running Catalyst for Vista on an ATI card. Slows whole system to a slideshow when it does. (At least on RTM) Same thing for animated GIFs. Hopefully this will be fixed in a later driver.

    on 11/27/2006 7:37 AM

  2. Anonymous said,

    Thank you this works great. The only thing is my taskbar keeps the desktop picture behind it instead of the animation (any ideas?). Other than the only screensaver that does not work is the photo one it's a-bit choppy on the display. Great Find. Thanks

    on 11/29/2006 3:28 AM

  3. Unknown said,

    Very nice! I have it running on my HP Tablet and it looks great! Now the big test will be to run my screen saver that is all fractals on my dual display at work!


    on 12/06/2006 6:54 PM

  4. Anonymous said,

    Where can i find a standalone copy of spy++? there doesn't appear to be a link on this blog, and your link for the automated process seems to be broken :( i would love to try this out, there is software that will do something similar to this but it is incredibly taxing on system resources. Thanks anyway, i will keep looking into it.

    on 7/20/2009 12:32 AM

  5. Anonymous said,

    I tried it on Win XP, it works!
    nice little tweak, thnx.
    I played a little bit with this and guess what I found ! 2 screen savers can be overlapped and run simultaneously!! Just execute the command prompt with required screen savers one after the other.
    One more thing, to get access to Right Click function of desktop use the HEX string of "FolderView" instead of "ProgramManager"s.

    on 7/30/2010 10:22 AM

  6. Jason S said,

    Wow... Now that's a really cool find:)

    on 7/30/2010 10:40 AM