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Make your Windows desktop move with Wallpaper Engine

Live wallpapers aren't a new invention, but they're not exactly common on Windows 10. But, there's always someone out there that can make these things happen, as is the case with Wallpaper Engine.

This inexpensive application delivered through Steam (yes, you get more than games on Steam) will help you add some life to your desktop with ease.

Some of you may groan at the thought of using Steam, but there's one very good reason why it's an excellent distribution tool for this app: Steam Workshop. Folks can make their own contributions to Wallpaper Engine and submit them through Steam Workshop so the whole world can benefit. For a small developer, it's a pretty nifty way of getting new content into the app.

The basic selection alone is pretty good, though. And the effects are impressive. Selecting a wallpaper is as easy as clicking on it.

Wallpaper Engine

You've also got options to alter the playback speed, volume (if it also includes sound), and in some cases the theme colors of the wallpaper. Diving deeper into the settings you can tell Wallpaper Engine to change your Windows accent color with the wallpaper automatically and even change the frame rate. It'll go up to 60FPS, but you'll need better graphics hardware to make that happen without impacting performance.

You may also be wary of an app like this using too many resources in the background, and the developer has covered off the sort of requirements you'll need to keep things going smoothly and without impacting on your PC performance. The good news is those requirements are fairly low:

  • OS: Windows 7 (with Aero), 8.1, 10
  • Processor: 1.66 GHz Intel i5 or equivalent
  • Memory: 1024 MB RAM
  • Graphics: HD Graphics 4000 or above
  • DirectX: Version 10
  • Storage: 512 MB available space

Wallpaper Engine

So, it all sounds great, right? Mostly, yes, but there are a couple of things to note. Wallpaper Engine is still a Steam Early Access application, so it's still in active development. The most recent patch was delivered on May 26, and they're fairly regular.

If you're clever, you can make your own submissions and distribute them through Steam Workshop. Or you can just browse the huge collection, but be warned. There is a lot of anime. Some of it less "safe for work" than others, and there doesn't seem to be an easy way to browse without specifically searching for something.

But if you wade through the fluff there are a ton of amazing wallpapers in there. I've found an Everspace themed wallpaper that's running at the native 1440p resolution of my display with moving ships that shoot lasers and things. It's terrific.

Not all the wallpapers are as good, and some act like a movie and just abruptly end leaving you with nothing on the screen until they loop back round and start again. But for 4 bucks there's a lot of great stuff to choose from, and it's well worth a look to spice up your desktop.

See at Steam

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

53 Comments
  • This program is seriously amazing with the new changes coming through the Fluent Design Language - really recommend this, as it's not really taxing either
  • But, it's not gonna work on my Surface 3😭
  • Of course it will work
  • It would be cool if Windows 10 has built-in Live wallpaper engine.
  • yes it will ... but it will also drain your battery, because it will prevent parts of the cpu from going into sleep due to the constant loop. i would not recommend using this on a mobile device, it will hurt your runtime on battery more than you'd think. of course if you only have it running when you are plugged in, then its totally fine.
  • The developer of this app should bring this to the Windows Store
  • Been using this software for months.. This is really cool.. 😍
  • Try out the Everspace themed wallpaper. SO GOOD!
  • Sure I will. Thanks bro 😊.
  • Have you tried making anything custom? I'm curious how involved it is. 
  • Back when I used Windows 7 I did the whole live desktop thing for a couple of months. I realized A) it annoyed me and B) system performance went down.  So, I'll pass, thanks.
  • Each to their own. System performance seems fine on this though. Barely even registers on my CPU or RAM usage.
  • yeah, I tried it too many years ago on W7... it was very annoying for my eyes
  • I thought the same thing when I first saw it until I tried it. Unlike the animated wallpaper of old, this one utilizes your GPU (integrated or dedicated) to lighten CPU resources and performs better than I expected. It also allows for customization and interactivity with specific wallpapers. (i.e. changing colors and effects, HTML5 usage, audio visualization) It is an interesting program and has a lot of potential. It wont be for everyone but it is nice to see new things like this.
  • I am downloading it now can't wait. It is great to see this stuff as my girlfriend has a nexus 7 and keeps showing me her live wall paper just because I can't get any. The quality looks to be better on this so I can get my own back
  • 🤣
  • Downloaded it a while ago from steam for the live zombie background did a win 10 reset on my sp4 and haven't placed steam back on.  Honestly my usage with my SP4 I hardly see my desktop lol.  But may try it again.
  • *Groans at the thought of using steam*
  • Hopefully the developers will get this published in the Windows Store.
  • Yeah.. W10S right completely forgot about it.. Just like f.lux this should come to Windows store.. 🙂
  • Yeah
  • This might attract more developers to port their apps to store. I guess 😊
  • did you even read the article this software is on Steam because of Steam Workshop which obvious are not available on Windows Store
  • I know I even use this app.. Don't we even have the right to want this app to be in Windows store 🤐
  • Just wonder when...
  • Google's Live Wallpaper is actually FREE in most cases and they have tons of live wallpaper, not does it work in Google Chrome, but it also work on Android Mobile devices, it also work on tablets. I know people start companies to make money, but if they throw a dog a free bone from time to time, they'll keep coming back.
  • its called Google Wallpaper and is available only for Android (maybe Chrome OS aswell since it can run Android apps now) not Windows
  • You want a single dev who writes one app to "throw you a bone"? Why, what will you do for him, who cares if you come back, if you haven't paid him anything. It's a $4 app, not exactly asking very much.
  • Too bad they got rid of the aero thing on vista
  •  Yes, I remember the "Dreamscape" desktop that came with Vista Ultimate. It was beautiful and subtle so as to not be annoying.
  • Too bad they got rid of Vista.
  • Does Windows Store have any free ot paid equivalent app to this?
  • Get wallpaper studio 10. It doesn't have live wallpaper but the community is huge and you will surely love those wallpapers.
  • I realized years ago that when I am using my devices the desktop is rarely visible, so why would I want something just running when I'm not there.
  • It doesn't run when you aren't there. It pauses the second any window is maximized and resumes when any part of the desktop is visable. The dev was quite thoughtful on the design to minimize resource use.
  • Again, rarely would it ever be used then.
  • I use two monitors, it would be running on the second monitor which more than half the time has no window opened on it.
  • https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RNX479YcuZM&rdm=2m0bbp7cp&noapp=1&......
  • Or you could pay the dev for his time or work. Pirates who go out of their way to crack low cost apps like this are a waste of oxygen.
  • The dev has made his app work only with steam...the crack works without steam. Your internet commandments are noted.
  • To be fair, IF they don't have a good trial version, they deserve it. I would want to try this before I spend my money on it.
  • exactly, no need to get steam, and the crack pretty much is a trial version in as much as there is only a small selection of themes and of course there is no access to the steam workshop to get more.. 
  • Yep it was cracked to protect everyone from the evil that is Steam. I'm sure no one will use it without paying.
  • Also to be fair, this is in early access. I do not see the dev having the time or resources at this stage for a proper trial version as it is always receiving updates.
  • So does Steam have to be up and running/logged into in order for this Wallpaper Engine to work?
  • No. Only thing that it requires Steam to be open for is the workshop in the program from what I can tell. I just tried launching it from the executable with Steam closed and it works independently.
  • Thanks for that info. How about with a computer reboot? Is there an option in the program to autostart it when Windows boots up? I'm interested in this but I don't want to have to launch it everytime comp boots up.
  • Yes, you can tick 'start with windows' in settings and also click a run as admin command (beside it) to give it permanent start up priority. You can go back into settings and change this at any time. Be warned, the moving wallpapers are 1080p and will look great on a 1080p screen, but not so hot on a 3k surface screen.
  • Cool beans! Thanks for taking the time to answer this, Mark & Jack.
  • But is it a UWP app?
  • Make it available on the Windows Store
  • Remember something similar in Vista Ultimate, you could select video files as wallpaper.  Idea was great but hardware in the day just didn't cut it and performance wasn't good, but I loved the concept.
  • Has anyone ever used YouTube as wallpaper.. If not.. Try pasting YouTube url in Wallpaper engine.. It's awesome to say the less.. 😍😍😍