In days past children used to play with paper dolls. The paper dolls came with several outfits that could be placed over the doll to dress it up. Software skins do the same thing for the graphic user interface (GUI) of software programs, that paper doll dresses did for paper dolls. Applying a new skin to a program changes the color scheme, theme or style, buttons and controls. It gives the program a fresh look.
Not all software programs are written to be skinnable, but skinnable programs do run the gamut of the software spectrum. Software skins are available for Microsoft™ Windows™ and Linux™ operating systems, Windows Media Player™, Firefox™ Web browser and Winamp™ multimedia player to name a scant few. Desktop managers, clocks, games, chat clients and many tools are also skinnable.
Software skins are usually very small files that download quickly. Some programs made to be skinnable have a built-in link to search for and import skins. In other cases you might need to manually search for skins and download them to your computer.
It’s easy to check for software skins, or to find out if a program is skinnable. Enter the name of the program in any search engine along with the word, “skins.” If skins are available you’ll be treated to several links where you can download them for free. Typically authors post thumbnails of each skin applied to the interface to give the viewer an idea of the style. Seasonable software skins are also available in many cases, with overflowing holiday themes for Christmas and Halloween.
After downloading a skin it takes only a few clicks to import it into the program, when necessary, and apply it. Rebooting isn’t required, so you can change software skins as often as you like. Some software programs like Firefox download skins directly and keep them in an archive so that you can switch between them at will.
With so many people spending so much time on their computers, software skins add freshness and fun to the electronic desktop. Skinnable software allows for users to personalize their systems, making them uniquely their own. For lists of skinnable programs you can refer to websites like Skinnables.org.