Add a video wallpaper to your desktop, or pin applications to the desktop with Active Desktop Plus

Mar 5, 2021
Updated • Mar 16, 2021
Software, Windows software

Do you like Live wallpapers? Active Desktop Plus is a Windows program that allows you to pin other programs to the desktop and use video wallpapers.

Tip: if you like animated wallpapers, check out our reviews of AutoWall, Awesome Wallpaper, Lively Wallpaper, and Desktop Movie.

Active Desktop Plus is an open source program that allows you to pin other programs to the desktop and use video wallpapers

The program is portable, and extracts to a 1.62MB folder. ADP as its referred to in short, has a compact interface with a side panel on the left. The sidebar has 4 icons, one for each tab. Click on the menu button in the top left corner to expand the side panel.

Active Desktop Plus - main screen

The Quick Add tab is the main screen in Active Desktop Plus. Drag and drop a file onto the GUI, or click on the large + button to start using it. The program supports three file formats: MP4 videos, Applications (EXE's) and webpages (doesn't seem to work).

Let's add a program to ADP. Use the + plus button and navigate to the location of the EXE, and Active Desktop Plus will display a message that reads "File accepted. You may add an MP4 video in the same way. Click on the Continue button, and it will prompt you to select the monitor on which to display the added program. Hit Save and Apply, and the application will be started in maximized mode. The video wallpaper feature is cool, though it doesn't play the audio, but that is to be expected.

Active Desktop Plus - current apps screen

Active Desktop Plus requires you to hide your desktop icons. You can minimize windows and use them as normal. Click the Toggle Lock option to pin the app to the desktop, this also prevents you from interacting with it. The Toggle Borders option hides the title bar of programs.

The 2nd tab in Active Desktop Plus is called Current Apps. It allows you to manage the selected window. The program seems to add the number 1000 next to each app that you add, which was kind of funny when I tried it with Foobar2000 (I had named it Foobar) as it read Foobar 1000. Highlight an application and hit the "Close selected app" button to exit it.

Go to the 3rd tab, Saved Apps, to view a list of all the programs that you added to ADP. You can also add new applications from this screen, to do so, click on the button in the top right corner. It cycles between Use Video/Website/Program. Give the shortcut a name, and choose some additional options including one that sets the program to start locked or pinned, and then hit the "Add to saved apps" button. To open a shortcut in Active Desktop Plus, select it and click on the Launch button. Similarly, you can remove apps from the list.

Active Desktop Plus - saved apps

Active Desktop Plus runs in the background and sits on the system tray. Right-click on the icon to close the program. Applications that were started by ADP run in the background, and will continue to do so even when you exit ADP. You may not want videos running in the background when your laptop is not plugged in, so head to the settings (icon in the bottom left corner), and toggle the options to pause videos on battery or battery saver. It also has an option to pause the media in maximized mode.

Active Desktop Plus - settings screen

The default tray icon isn't very visible with the Windows light theme, but you can toggle a dark tray icon that fixes the issue. Likewise, there is a dark theme for the program's interface.

Active Desktop Plus is an open source program. It has a few minor issues. I couldn't find a way to edit a shortcut after adding it. The "Close selected app" doesn't always work, sometimes the process would continue to run in the background. And lastly, the web URL feature didn't work at all, it just caused a blank wallpaper to appear on the desktop. UWP apps aren't supported by the program.

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4 based on 4 votes
Software Name
Active Desktop Plus
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  1. Zhora said on March 21, 2021 at 8:42 am

    How does this differ from Lively and LiveWallpaper?

  2. Jeff said on March 7, 2021 at 8:51 pm

    The only time I see my desktop is when I boot to Windows. A screensaver is a better idea

  3. Squiggy said on March 6, 2021 at 11:32 pm

    “Active desktop”. Flashbacks to Windows 98.

  4. youre just too darn loud said on March 6, 2021 at 3:47 am

    You should really do a review about, “Onion Share” it has really matured since the last version!

    FOSS + cross platform

    1. Peterc said on March 7, 2021 at 12:24 am

      @youre just too darn loud:

      I really appreciate the heads-up on this. I’d never heard of it and it could come in handy.

  5. The Eponymous MeowTool said on March 5, 2021 at 9:58 pm

    Triple FacePalm…….

    As in Hardware, so in Software.

    “Desperation”, not “Usefulness” !

  6. Allwynd said on March 5, 2021 at 8:51 pm

    Why does Foobar2000 have the titlebar windows used in Vista and 7 Basic? Is it because of the video as a background? My FB2K has the Windows 10 titlebars.

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