Play full length videos in your desktop background, with DesktopMovie


This is not a ‘video wallpaper’ type software, like Windows Dreamscenes or Okozo; rather, DesktopMovie is a free program designed to play full-length videos with sound inside your desktop background and under your icons. The reason you would do that is up to you!

First off I will admit that the reason I am excited about this program is largely because of the concept, which I think is unusual.

The practical applications of something like this, though, may not be plentiful or obvious, but read on; we’ve thought of a few below.

How it works:

It couldn’t be simpler, run DesktopMovie (portable app) and it will ask you for a video file, and will then play it in the background. You can access the controls via the icon in the system tray. The controls are easy and sparse, but interestingly, DesktopMovie will let you create playlists of videos to display. Once you shut the program your old wallpaper image will miraculously re-appear.

Note that DesktopMovie will play any video file using the directshow filters that exist on your system. If it does not play the video or audio stream or both, you might want to find the correct filters/codecs or install them by way of a codec pack. If you just want to test it, try a WMV file it will probably work off the bat.

DesktopMovie Screenshot

Potential applications:

This application was conceived, according to the author, in order display moving scenes on a projector background while one of his colleagues performed a presentation in front of it. So here’s a few suggested applications

  • For hands-on presentationsas mentioned above
  • For playing promotional videos in the backgroundin trade show booths, etc, while allowing attendees to use the demonstration computer in a normal way
  • For watching videos at work, of course, although this would be an option if you could relegate the video to a certain small corner of the background rather than the whole thing (a good software that does this sort of thing, if you’re interested is OnTopReplica.
  • To add video wallpaper as background(it will keep looping your video by default), although at 9% CPU usage on my machine, you should probably see if Windows Dreamscene or Okozo might be better to do this. It will play and loop Dreamscene WMV’s.
  • As a curiosity to show to friends or write about on your blog 😉

Wish list (or how this software can be even better)

This software is a few years old, and is probably not likely to be developed further, but I’ll throw in my two cents anyway:

  • The ability to relegate to a certain corner or placement on the screen. Would be great
  • The ability to give it a URL for streaming video off the internet. So that we can watch the Olympics or World Cup while working (not that you should do this, mind you, we are not as good multitaskers as we think or wish that we are!)

The verdict

A nice little program that I feature here because of it’s originality. May not have too many real world practical applications

It’s portable, it will auto-loop your video, it will let you add multiple videos to playlists, and it will revert back to your wallpaper images when you’re done. Go ahead, try it!

Go to the program page to get the latest version (Windows, approx ~300K). Also heck out some of the other really cool freeware on the author’s page.

  • I want to say that VLC Player will do this, as well… maybe I’m thinking of one of the other 1,000 media players I’ve seen bundled with Linux over the years, though.

  • Avi

    Ahaha the old BS player also had this functionality (It may be some other player used it in the year 2000). Its nice to have players like this, gives you the option to watch videos and work all at the same time. Thnx Samer

  • Rob

    I could see myself using this, if it doesn’t bog down my RAM too much. It would be particularly interesting to try it in combination with various utilities I’ve heard about that allow you to add transparency to your applications. I wouldn’t want to use it for real work that requires real concentration, but it might be nice to have some video in the background to make routine and repetitive tasks less dreary: things like sorting desktop icons, going through junk email, organizing and backing up files, checking to-do-lists and calendars, monitoring stock prices, doing data entry. It could also be a good way to catch up on various videos I’ve accumulated on my hard drive that I never seem to get around to actually watching. Does the author know of any specific transparency utilities that might work well in combination with DesktopMovie?

    • I forgot to mention that the method described above is tested with WinXP, but I do not think there is a reason why it should not work with Vista/Win7

      Best Regards
      Zoltán Bacskó

  • Hi!
    I’m the author, and the answer has to be a little geeky. Videos played with hardware video overlay, no matter how strange it sounds, is not part of the desktop composition. They reside in a separate memory area native to the hardware, so no color or any conversion is necessary. This is the reason that in spite of more advanced D3D based rendering technologies (VMR, EVR) hardware overlay is still the fastest. But this is also the reason why it cannot cooperate well with aero, and why you cannot make a screenshot of the video. So how it works?
    You can specify a colorkey (desktop movie uses rgb 16,0,16) and if something has this color you can see this memory area through this part. Desktop movie uses the trick to set your background to this color (almost black, little purple). This is the theory.
    Regarding the answer, sorry to say, but transparent windows are part of the desktop and instead of the video you will see the color key through the transparent windows.
    But there is a workaround. As I said the exact color RGB 16,0,16 is always fully transparent in any window while desktop movie runs. So you can set a windows color scheme where you set eg. window color to this color, save this color scheme, and apply when you need this.
    An example:

    Best Regards
    Zoltán Bacskó

    • Rob

      Thanks! When I asked the question of the author, I actually meant the blog author, but getting an answer from the software author is even better! I look forward to trying the workaround you suggest. It occurs to me that it in some ways it might actually be BETTER than using a transparency utility, since it should not require the additional memory that would be used by another piece of software. Thanks again for your reply. 🙂

  • How to take ScreenShot of the Desktop while running this program?

    I tried a lot of softwares, but no luck!


  • Hi!
    As I described in the previous post there is a fundamental obstacle to make screenshots (the memory area where the program runs is not part of the desktop). As far as I know the only possible scenario to make screenshots is to use a virtualization environment (eg. virtualbox,wmware,virtual pc) and make a screenshot of the host operating system while the guest is running desktop movie.

  • Hi, Falco.

    Thats true! Thanks.