Freeware Files: Five Unmentioned, but not Unappreciated, UI Apps for your Desktop!


Let it not be said that I don't pay attention to the demands of the readers.  No sooner did I wrap up another comparative analysis of three slammin' freeware applications for altering your desktop in new and unique ways then, well, you all talked.  And talked.  And talked.

That's not a bad thing, however.  A number of you voiced support for your favorite applications and utilities that you use to radically transform the look of your traditional Windows desktop in some pretty awesome ways.  It would be a shame to let these suggestions languish in the comments thread of an old article, however.  So, this week, Freeware Files is all about you.  I'll be featuring your suggestions for applications and showing people why they should consider your alternatives for giving their desktops a refreshed look.

Got it?  Let's begin!


What.  The.  Hell.  Sorry to be so blunt, and I apologize for offending anyone's sensitive ears.  Let's not kid ourselves, however.  That's the first think you'll be thinking when you go to load up 3DNA, a desktop transformation that takes the concept of a 3D environment one step further... off the deep end.  I kid, but it's just that much of a radical transformation.  Unlike the previously featured Bumptop, which allows you to manipulate your desktop as if it was a 3D cube of-sorts, 3DNA turns your desktop into the equivalent of Second Life.

Is it useful from a functional standpoint?  Doubtful.  Is it cool to run through?  Admittedly... yes.  Just not if you're a Windows 7 user, however--there's no support for that OS just yet!

Download it here !


On the flip side from 3DNA, we have Hyperdesk.  This application doesn't really transform the look of your desktop in a significant way per se --it's more akin to slapping a new layer of paint on a building than retrofitting the underlying framework.  Still, the skins created by The Skins Factory, Hyperdesk's creator, are nothing short of artistic wonders.  Nor are they free.  So what, then, is Hyperdesk doing in a Freeware roundup?  Keep this one on your radar, because you'll occasionally find widgets or skins for free (or cheap.)  Hey, it's not like da Vinci worked free either, eh?

Download it here !


Have we covered this application before?  Yes.  Does it still do the same thing it did then?  Yes.  Did many of you scream and clamor when we didn't include this in our "apps that transform your desktop" feature profile?  Yes.  To be fair, RocketDock doesn't actually change the entirety of your desktop--hence it's omission.  What it does, however, is pretty great.  The application gives you a little launching bar that almost perfectly mimics what you'd find in Apple's OSX platform.  You know, the bar that you move the mouse over, and the icons get bigger as you scroll through them, and you cackle with glee, et cetera.

The transparency of this application really helps it stand out as a beautiful addition to desktops of all varieties.  Were it only so easy to completely remove the Windows taskbar in favor of this little guy--that's how much RocketDock, well, rocks.

Download it here !


Here's a big gun for you.  Samurize is a great desktop replacement tool that operates along the same vein as Rainmeter.  My experience is that it's a little tricky to use , but not complicated enough to make you want to give up before you've managed to stick your first CPU meter on your desktop.

I might be getting ahead of myself here, so permit me to take a step back.  Samurize is an application that basically adds a layer on top of your desktop, which you can then populate with widgets of all varieties to transform your desktop into a customized, one-of-a-kind experience.  Everything from abstract clocks to CPU use meters are yours for the tweaking--and even if you're uncreative (or confused), you can pick from a variety of preconfigured "configs" that others have created for you.

Download it here !


This shell replacement for the Windows doesn't skin your desktop, nor does it dump widgets overtop your desktop's existing look and feel.  When I say "replacement," I mean just that: You're getting an entirely new look and configuration to play around with, styled in a similar condition to Litestep (from the aforementioned desktop UI application showdown.)

SharpEnviro succeeds in its ability to present a bit more of a user-friendly setup over competing shell replacements.  You won't be screwing around in notepad to make your potential changes. The configurations and launching elements are all styled in an easy-to-navigate GUI, and you're free to make additional modifications--like adding new toolbar configurations--without having to deal with the hassle of figuring out just what exactly it is you're doing.  Heck, SharpEnviro even comes with built-in support for switching between two separate desktops featuring their own individual windows.  You won't see that in a Microsoft-based product!  These are just a few of the highlights of this super-simple desktop replacement--you'll definitely want to explore the nooks and crannies of this app.

Download it here !

David Murphy (@ Acererak) is a technology journalist and former Maximum PC editor. He writes weekly columns about the wide world of open-source as well as weekly roundups of awesome, freebie software. Befriend him on Twitter, especially if you have an awesome app or game you're dying to recommend!

Around the web

by CPMStar (Sponsored) Free to play