How to Make an Animated GIF Your Windows Wallpaper
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already seen the impact that an animated wallpaper can make and you decided you want one for your screen. There is a certain elegance to the well-chosen, high-res static wallpaper, but it can’t quite keep up with its animated counterpart.
Windows doesn’t natively support the use of GIFs as wallpapers, but there are some workarounds to this. Keep reading to find out how to use a GIF as your Windows wallpaper. We’ll also cover some other ways to use looped animations as your wallpaper that don’t involve GIFs.
Using a GIF as Your Wallpaper
As stated above, Windows won’t recognize GIFs as viable options for use as wallpapers. It’s not entirely clear why Microsoft has always insisted on stifling this feature but never fear, there are third-party options to help with that. The best option by far is a beautiful piece of software called Plastuer. It has too many features to cover here, as it can do so much more than set GIFs as your wallpaper.
Plastuer doesn’t require installation, all you have to do is download it and launch it. Once you run it, the program will detect your monitors and let you select the one to work with. Once you’ve selected it, you can search for a GIF using a URL or select a file from your computer. You can also create playlists with several URLs that will loop in the order you choose. Once you’ve selected the GIF, click Save to finish the setup.
By default, Plastuer will run on startup, so you just need to set it and forget it. It’s a very lightweight program and it will automatically detect frame settings to conserve RAM. Keep exploring Plastuer and you’ll find a treasure trove of features that you didn’t even know you wanted. You can even set webpages as your wallpaper. Best of all, it’s available on a ‘pay what you want’ model, so if you’re not in a position to spend on it, you can get it for free.
If you’re not married to the idea of using a GIF, you’ll avail yourself to a whole new world of animated wallpapers. What you’re likely after is a looped animation. The best — or, at least, the most popular — tool out there for animated wallpapers is Wallpaper Engine.
This software is available through Steam, so you’ll need a free account and the Steam client to download it. The price will oscillate depending on periodic discounts, and it shouldn’t be over $5. It’s great value for the money as it comes packed with features. Once you download it, all you have to do is launch it and select one of the wallpapers available in the gallery. The animation will be set as your wallpaper.
If you have a specific animation in mind, you can upload it to the engine. Wallpaper engine supports GIFs as well as MP4, WEBM, WMV, AVI, MKV, MV4, and MOV files. You can also use the built-in editor to create your own animations. It lets you upload static images and add animations such as fog, snow, and the like. It also has performance options to minimize the burden it places on your computer.
Maybe the best feature is that it’s fully integrated with the Steam community. Steam users can upload their own creations which you can access. Not only do you get to set your own animations, but you’ll also be able to choose from thousands of ready-made wallpapers from the workshop.
If you’re not a fan of using the Steam client, you have another option in Stardock’s DeskScapes. It’s a little pricier than Wallpaper Engine but it has a few useful features which set it apart. It offers a 30-day free trial, so you can try it before you commit.
Download and install the software, then follow these steps:
- Launch the program and switch over to the Online tab.
- Choose the wallpaper you want from the gallery and click on “Download this background.”
- Once it’s downloaded, click on “Apply to my desktop” to complete the setup.
The list on the left-hand side will give you access to the various galleries grouped into broad themes. There is also a massive gallery of still images that you can use. The animations in DeskScapes are all in MP4 format, which doesn’t make much of a difference, aesthetically, from GIFs.
Animate Your Life
This doesn’t cover all of the options that are available but you probably don’t need to look much further. These three tools will offer a full range of price points and features. Don’t restrict yourself to GIFs unless there is a GIF you absolutely must have as your wallpaper. You’ll have much better results and better options using MP4 and other, more recent, animated files.
Share your favorite of these programs in the comments. If you had to commit to one wallpaper across all your devices for the rest of your life, what would it be?