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This free Windows wallpaper app brings superpowers to your desktop

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No disrespect for Microsoft windows 11 flashy wallpapersbut there’s a better way to make your Windows desktop more inspiring.

Is called Vibrant wallpaper by rockdanister, and is a free app that transforms your windows desktop with live and dynamic wallpapers. Lively is an open source project and runner-up in the 2022 Microsoft Store App Awards, and it has quickly become one of my favorite apps since installing it last year.

While Lively Wallpaper isn’t the only live wallpaper app for Windows, it’s the best free option I’ve found, and it has a particularly neat trick: You can turn any website into a live desktop wallpaper, elevating the humble wallpaper from a aesthetic improvement into a useful tool.

How to set Lively Wallpaper

First, you’ll need to decide which version of Lively Wallpaper to install. Most people should just grab the Microsoft Store appsbut you can too download Lively directly from the developer’s website.

While the two versions are mostly the same, some website wallpapers may not display properly without a plug-in that only works with direct download. (We’ll talk about that in a bit.)

After installing the app, double-click the Lively Wallpaper icon from your system tray. The app comes with a dozen ready-to-use live wallpapers, and clicking on any one will set it as the active wallpaper.

origin 1Lively Wallpaper works well with multi-monitor setups.

Jared Newman / Foundry

You can also try right clicking on a wallpaper and browse for a file customize option. Some wallpapers, like the built-in “Triangles and Lights,” let you adjust the color, lighting, and other details through this menu, and some can even respond to system audio.

For folks with multiple monitors, Lively lets you set different wallpapers for each display. Click the Active wallpapers button at the top, so make sure Selected screen only is highlighted to avoid unwanted stretching of the background. You should also tick Always choose the screen when choosing wallpaperwhich brings up a monitor selector every time you choose a new wallpaper.

Turn websites into wallpapers

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Jared Newman / Foundry

Dynamic wallpapers and looping videos are neat, but Lively’s true potential comes from turning websites into desktop wallpapers. This transforms the app from a source of pretty scenery into an inexhaustible source of entertainment or productivity.

To add a website in Lively, click Add background at the top, paste your website into the URL field, then click the arrow button.

Virtually any website with live and up-to-date information or visuals can make a great wallpaper in Lively Wallpaper. Here are some ideas:

Use the web version of Tabliss for automatic updating of photo backgrounds and information widgets Enter a giant analog clock on your desktop Use Windy. com for a live weather map View Minecraft screenshots that correspond to the current time
Use Mirò’s simple web whiteboard as sketch canvas and sticky notes Travel the world with Lead and listen
Set your wallpaper to some youtube views loop
interact with these cartoon characters wonder
Destroy the walls OR pop some bubbles to relieve stress Give yourself some Donuts and kittens

origin 1Here’s a Minecraft wallpaper that matches your local climate.

Jared Newman / Foundry

By default, website backgrounds respond to mouse input, but not keyboard controls. To enable keyboard or disable mouse input, go to Settings (⚙) > Wallpaper. Note that enabling the keyboard will also hide desktop icons.

You may also want to disable the sound on any website you have selected. Look for the audio slider below Settings > General.

Find more live wallpapers

If you want to explore the concept of dynamic wallpaper further, there are a few places you can look.

Lively Wallpaper’s DeviantArt gallery&xcust=2-1-1479976-1-0-0&sref=https://www.pcworld.com/feed), for example, includes a collection of animated and interactive live wallpapers. (You’ll need a DeviantArt account to download the files.) You can also scroll through the file Live wallpaper subreddit for ideas, or check out the project Talk page on GitHub.

origin 1Build your wallpaper collection with dynamic wallpaper files, videos and websites

Jared Newman / Foundry

The app also supports setting videos as wallpapers. Sites like Pexels AND Pixabay offer looping videos that work well as desktop wallpapers and if you like customize in Lively, you can adjust playback speed, colors, and saturation.

To add a new background in Lively, just click on Add background top button. You can then select a file or use drag and drop.

You can archive these wallpapers anywhere, but Lively offers its own directory, which you can search below Settings > General > Wallpaper Directory. All wallpaper files in this directory will be deleted when you remove them from the app, and you can change the directory to move all wallpapers in it.

Some caveats

Lively Wallpaper is still in active development and has seen a steady stream of improvements over the past year, but it’s still not without its edges. Some things to know:

Laptop users may want to disable live wallpapers when running on battery power. This option is available below Settings > Performance. The WebView2 plug-in (required for Window Swap, above) seems to have some issues. Web wallpapers may disappear during full screen applications and fail to load until you remove and add them back into Lively, and some dynamic wallpapers may not work at all. Lively Wallpaper is technically capable of running EXE files as wallpapers, which could pair well with display apps like Airplane9 OR ProjectMbut so far i have yet to get both apps working properly.

Also worth noting: My favorite website to use with Lively Wallpaper is Window change, which shows webcam footage watching from people’s windows around the world. It pairs especially well with multiple monitor setups, as you’ll get glimpses of global scenery whenever your extra screens aren’t in use.

But getting Window Swap to work was an ordeal. Requires a separate WebView2 plugin, which in turn doesn’t work with the Microsoft Store version of the app. This plug-in also seems to prevent some Lively dynamic wallpapers from working properly, and playing in full screen mode sometimes causes the wallpapers to disappear completely.

For me though, it was worth it. Vibrant wallpaper it’s a great resource for anyone looking to spice up their desktop wallpaper, and with web-based wallpapers, you’re only limited by what you can imagine.

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