Tutorial Thursday

VLC Media Player has got to be one of the best video players available, and it doesn’t cost you a single penny. Why is it so great? Well, it is a combination of the extremely simple interface and the large number of codecs that are included to support almost any type of video. There is, however, one feature that many of you may have forgotten about…

Buried within the settings is an option that allows you set any video as a desktop wallpaper. This setting is similar to what Microsoft is offering as an “Extra” called Dreamscene in the Windows Vista Ultimate edition. Once you have enabled the option you’ll be able to set a video to play as your desktop background, have it repeat so that it continuously loops, and then you can minimize the VLC player to your System Tray so that it is out-of-sight.

  1. Go to Settings -> Preferences -> Video -> Output Modules -> DirectX and in the bottom-right corner check the box labeled Advanced Options. Now you should see an option on the screen called Enable wallpaper mode, check that box.
  2. If you want to be able to minimize the VLC Media Player to the System Tray you’ll have to enable that option in the Preferences as well. While in the Preferences go to Interface -> Main Interfaces -> wxWidgets. Uncheck the Taskbar option and then check the Systray icon option in order to show the program only in the System Tray while playing a video.
  3. Now if you want to have the video continuously loop on your desktop just press Ctrl+P and choose whether you want to loop all videos in your playlist or just a single video:
  4. Just start playing a video and go to the Video -> Wallpaper option and you should see the video being played as your desktop background.

VLC Media Player has had this feature for a long time and it works in more than just Windows Vista Ultimate edition, unlike the DreamScene add-on. The only problem that I have had with it so far is trying to get some videos to play full-size. That can be a little tricky because the full-screen mode in the video player does not seem to stretch the video to fit your desktop.

There are quite a few things that Vista offers that can be done using other applications, and this is a prime example of that. Of course, this is probably just one of those features that you would use to show a friend and say “look at how cool it is” and then you would never use it because it lacked any practical purpose. A little bragging here and there can be fun though. :)