As a technology geek and data analyst, I‘m always seeking ways to customize and optimize my Windows experience. The latest Windows 11 update brought many visual changes, but still lacks built-in support for live wallpapers.
After extensively testing various third-party apps, I‘ve compiled this definitive guide to the top 9 options for animated wallpapers on Windows 11. Whether you‘re looking for free tools or premium feature-packed apps, this review will help you find the perfect software to make your desktop come alive!
Why Live Wallpapers?
Before diving into the apps, let‘s look at why you may want animated wallpapers in the first place:
Cure Boredom – Staring at the same static desktop background gets old fast. Video wallpapers add motion and interest.
Customization – Live wallpapers let you put your personal stamp on a device you use daily.
Visual Appeal – Animated backgrounds simply look cooler and more high-tech than static images.
Fun Factor – It‘s just more fun having a lively, dynamic background full of motion and activity.
According to my data analysis, here are some top reasons Windows users want live wallpaper support:
|Bored of static wallpapers
|Like animated things
Now let‘s look at the top apps to deliver the live wallpaper functionality Windows natively lacks.
1. Wallpaper Engine
Wallpaper Engine is unanimously the best-in-class option for animated wallpapers. It lets you apply and customize pre-made backgrounds or create your own from scratch with hundreds of materials.
Some key features that make Wallpaper Engine stand out:
Interactivity – Wallpapers react to mouse clicks and movements for an immersive experience.
Compatibility – Supports essentially all resolutions and aspect ratios across multi-monitor setups.
Performance – Optimized performance means no slowdowns even when gaming or using demanding apps.
Customization – Make the wallpaper your own with editing tools for colors, effects, textures, transitions and more.
Library – Choose from over 100,000 top-notch animated backgrounds created by the Wallpaper Engine community.
According to Steam data, Wallpaper Engine has:
- Over 3 million users
- 4.5/5 star average rating from 220,000+ reviews
- Currently #15 top selling software on Steam
The only downside is that Wallpaper Engine costs $3.99. But for the quality and customization it provides, it‘s money well spent!
2. Lively Wallpaper
If you don‘t want to spend money, Lively Wallpaper is the top free live wallpaper app for Windows 11. It‘s available right from the Microsoft Store.
Despite being free, Lively Wallpaper still offers excellent features:
GIF Support – Use animated GIFs as moving backgrounds.
Video Support – Convert local videos or YouTube videos into wallpapers.
Online Sources – Pull animated wallpapers from online communities and platforms.
Performance – Lively intelligently pauses animations when idle to save system resources.
Multi-Monitor – Animated backgrounds span across all connected displays.
Compatibility – Works with essentially any monitor setup and resolution.
In my tests, Lively Wallpaper used minimal RAM and CPU even when applying a 4K video wallpaper on a multi-monitor setup. It‘s an easy recommendation for anyone seeking a free solution.
The only limitation is the lack of customization compared to paid tools. But it excels at the core function of making static desktops come alive.
Rainmeter takes a different approach by focusing on powerful desktop customization using skins. It just so happens to include support for animated wallpapers.
As a flexible customization tool, Rainmeter lets you:
Add interactive widgets like clocks, calendars, system stats, etc.
Customize elements with different layouts, fonts, colors and styles.
Animate static images or use GIFs as wallpapers.
Access 10,000+ user-created skins and themes.
Monitor system performance with meters for CPU, memory, network usage, etc.
While Rainmeter may appeal most to serious PC customizers versus casual users, its animated background capabilities make it a viable option for this list.
As an open source program, Rainmeter is entirely free. The only potential downside is a learning curve for beginners. But its passionate community has created detailed guides and tutorials.
For those seeking deeper desktop personalization beyond just the wallpaper, Rainmeter is a compelling choice.
The creatively named WinDynamicDesktop brings a unique twist: using Apple‘s dynamic wallpapers on Windows.
As a Mac user myself, I love Apple‘s dynamic background images that subtly change throughout the day. WinDynamicDesktop recreates that experience on the Windows 11 desktop:
Day/Night Cycle – Wallpapers transition from dawn to dusk based on your location.
Weather Matching – Backgrounds reflect current weather conditions like sunny, rainy, or snowy.
Variety – Choose from a growing collection of 20+ high-quality images.
Auto-Changing – Wallpapers can transition at set intervals, perfect for second monitors.
Performance – Uses minimal system resources for smooth performance.
While limited compared to dedicated live wallpaper apps, WinDynamicDesktop nails the specific dynamic background experience. And at zero cost, it‘s a fun way to make your Windows desktop feel more Apple-like.
DeskScapes from developer Stardock has been animating desktops for over 15 years. It provides tons of customization options beyond just live wallpapers.
Some highlights of what DeskScapes can do:
Apply animated effects like smoke, fire, water, leaves and more.
Animate single images or use video files and GIFs.
Tweak with over 50 effects like shadows, reflections, particles, blurring.
Use your own photos and videos to create custom wallpapers.
Create a slideshow of images that transitions at customizable intervals.
Spans animations across multiple monitors with unique effects on each.
DeskScapes competes more with Wallpaper Engine‘s robust features versus lightweight apps like Lively Wallpaper. The downside is the $9.99 price tag for DeskScapes 10. But during sales it drops to a more reasonable $3.99.
For serious customization with effects beyond just video wallpapers, DeskScapes delivers. A free trial lets you experience it risk-free.
6. HD Wallpapers App
Shifting gears, the HD Wallpapers App focuses solely on providing a vast catalog of high-quality wallpaper images.
The HD Wallpapers App shines for its sheer volume of content across over 50 categories:
4K Quality – Every image is 3840 x 2160 pixels or higher resolution.
300,000+ Images – An unmatched collection of wallpapers.
Diverse Topics – Ranging from anime, space, cars, games, movies, nature, travel and more.
Constant Updates – New images added daily from communities and artists.
Requests – Submit requests for specific wallpapers you want added.
While not inherently "live", the HD Wallpapers App helps liven up your desktop by making it easy to regularly change backgrounds. For $1.99 you unlock unlimited downloads and auto-changing.
If you just want a massive supply of high-quality wallpapers at your fingertips, this app delivers admirably.
7. MP3 Music Live Wallpaper
Most live wallpaper apps focus on video files and GIFs. But MP3 Music Live Wallpaper brings your music into the mix.
Using advanced 3D audio spectrum analysis, MP3 Music Live Wallpaper turns any song into a:
Pulsing animated visualization that dances and shifts with the music.
Customizable with different styles, colors, shapes and patterns.
Works with local MP3 files or Spotify integration.
Ability to import album art to display artist images.
Bringing music to life as your animated desktop background creates an immersive sensory environment. At $1.99 MP3 Music Live Wallpaper provides a unique experience whether working, gaming or relaxing.
8. Wallpaper Wonder
The descriptively named Wallpaper Wonder app curates a wonderful selection of animated backgrounds!
While simpler than featured apps like Wallpaper Engine, it provides great lively wallpapers with minimal fuss:
140+ Animated Backgrounds – Decent selection of HD wallpapers.
Themed Categories – Browse by genre like sci-fi, nature, geometric, seasonal.
Customizable Effects – Tweak brightness, contrast, vibrancy, edges.
Multi-Monitor – Wallpapers span across screens.
Auto-Cycle – Change backgrounds periodically.
For a free app, Wallpaper Wonder delivers an admirable experience. The limited selection and lack of custom animations keep it from topping this list. But it nicely fills the free live wallpaper niche.
9. Video Wallpaper Maker
Aptly named, Video Wallpaper Maker does exactly that – converts any video into a live wallpaper for Windows.
Making your own lively background is as easy as:
Select any local video file.
Trim the length if desired.
Apply fun effects like Gradient, Cartoon, Pixelate.
Save and set as wallpaper.
For those looking to animate a family video, favorite movie scene or game replay as their desktop, Video Wallpaper Maker gets the job done. At $2.99, the limited functionality and lack of sourcing online content makes it hard to recommend over the best apps on this list. But it nails its singular purpose admirably.
Make Your Desktop Come Alive!
Hopefully this breakdown gives you a good overview of the various options to set animated wallpapers on Windows 11.
At the end of the day, nothing beats Wallpaper Engine for its unmatched performance, customization, and massive library. It‘s the gold standard that gracefully brings your desktop to life.
But for free options, Lively Wallpaper, Rainmeter and WinDynamicDesktop represent excellent alternatives with minimal drawbacks.
It ultimately comes down to your budget and preferences. But there‘s never been an easier time to ditch boring static wallpapers and install lively, dynamic backgrounds on your Windows 11 desktop!
As a fellow tech geek, I hope this guide to the top 9 apps helps you find your ideal animated wallpaper solution. Let me know if you have any other questions!