By Christian Cawley
Desktop backgrounds are nice, but they’re a bit… well, static. It’s time to end all of that and make your desktop background move — with a video.
Several tools are available for this, each with slightly differing results. You should find that one of these works for you.
Select a Video for Your Desktop Background
Before you get started setting a video as a desktop background, however, you need to spend a few moments considering which video clip you wish to use.
Different types of videos are suitable for different purposes. For example, if you just want to enjoy your favorite movie while you work or browse the web, then by all means, choose a video of a suitable length.
If, however, you really want an eye-catching desktop background, then selecting a shorter clip would be more appropriate, especially if it’s something that will be striking when looped. Video clips and GIFs alike can be used.
1. Set a Background With PUSH Video Wallpaper
Available On: Windows
We reckon that the video wallpaper app gives the best results, and it’s easy to use. On the downside, it’s not free (it costs around $10) but you do get a free trial.
Begin by heading to the site and downloading PUSH Video Wallpaper. Run the EXE file to install, and then launch the app. Instantaneously, your desktop background will be transformed as the app runs, displaying a demo video clip on a loop.
To change this, open the PUSH Video Wallpaper item from the taskbar (you may need to double-click the desktop icon) and click the + symbol to browse for a new clip. You’ll spot a loop tool in the controls, along with a shuffle button, change video interval menu, and a volume/mute button — useful for controlling audio levels when you might prefer to be working! Playlists of videos can also be created.
The result is the smooth rendering of a video, in full-screen mode, as a desktop background, complete with app windows and icons sitting in the foreground. PUSH Video Wallpaper is certainly worth a try if you’re looking for a way to set a video as your desktop background.
2. Set a Desktop Background With VLC
Available On: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS
Another way creating a desktop background video is thanks to that most versatile of desktop media players, VLC media player. Available from www.videolan.org, VLC media player is available for all operating systems, which means that in theory, this method will work on Windows, macOS, Linux, even ChromeOS, BSD variants, and Solaris!
In short, if you’re not already using VLC for something (it even does video screen captures) you should be. And you’ll need it for setting a video as your desktop background.
Set the Desktop Background
In older versions of VLC media player, you’ll need to make some changes.
Open Tools > Preferences > Videos, and look for the Output setting. In the drop-down menu, click the DirectX (DirectDraw) video output option, then Save. Exit VLC, then browse to the video clip you want to use as a background, and play it in VLC media player.
As it plays, right-click on the player window and choose Video > DirectX Wallpaper. (Alternatively, click Video > DirectX Wallpaper from the menu. (Windows may display a warning, so close this, and then minimize your apps and settle back to enjoy the video!
Once you’re done with the video, maximize VLC media player, open Video and click DirectX Wallpaper again to remove the check. Then exit the program.
However, for more recent versions of VLC media player, all you need to do is right-click the video and select Set as wallpaper.
What you’ll find with this is that although the video goes into full-screen mode and you can still access your Windows toolbar and Start button, desktop icons and shortcuts are missing. So, it’s more of a modified full-screen mode than a desktop background.
3. Set a Desktop Background With YouTube
Available On: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS
If the results from VLC media player don’t meet your requirements, there are various alternatives of varying complexity.
To set a YouTube video as a desktop wallpaper, play the clip (perhaps loop it first), then set it to full screen. Windows users should then be able to Alt-Tab through the open apps and place them on top of the video background. Note that again in this scenario, it is not a true desktop background — there are no desktop icons and shortcuts. Hit Esc to exit the full-screen view.
Take Your Desktop Theming to the Next Level
What do you think? Have you tried setting a video as your desktop background yet? Did it work well? Tell us about it in the comments.