How-To Geek

Bounty Program Success: "Active Desktop" Replacement for Vista

For those of you joining us in progress we’ve started something new here called the How-To Geek Bounty Program, where we sponsor software projects based on ideas suggested by the readers.

The second bounty so far was sponsored by Scott, who was looking for a replacement for the Active Desktop feature that is missing from Vista.

Once again, Andreas Verhoeven was up to the task, and created Ave’s DesktopSites, which will let you put images of websites on your desktop, configurable to where you want them, and they will update on a schedule.


You could use this for displaying headlines on your desktop:


Or you could use it the way Scott does, which is to display dynamically updating weather maps as his desktop wallpaper. Now that’s some heavy duty usage there!


If you have any issues with this application, you can leave a post on the forum. There is also a known issue with dual monitors.

If you’ve got an idea for a new application or to fix something annoying in Windows Vista, you should put a thread on the bounty program forum… we’ll be picking the next project to sponsor soon.


Download AveDesktopSites [mirror] from Ave’s Vista Stuff [source]

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 08/7/07

Comments (39)

  1. Olin

    Absolutely fantastic piece of software here. I can get my tasklist and calendar viewable on my desktop, something I’ve been waiting for in Vista since the day I started using it. Thank you!

  2. willie j

    I didn’t work for me. Something about a Bitmap violation and other errors.

  3. Terry A

    It didn’t work for me either something about access violation erros then a series of other errors until i stopped the service, This is after downloading the application and putting the dll in system32 and then running AveDesktop as Admin, any ideals?

  4. Rohit

    Doesn’t work for me, gives a slew of Interface not supported exceptions.

  5. John "Sarge

    I really like some of the other programs that Andreas has to offer, such as GlassToast and 3dUserPic. I’ve downloaded and installed them, but I would like to make it so that they automatically start when I power up my laptop. How can I go about doing this?

    Thanks, and keep up the very helpful information!

  6. Matt Allen

    I love the Active Desktop Replacement.
    I only wish that pages placed into it would be able to scroll up & down.

  7. Lantom

    Unfortunately, this program didn’t work here on vista.
    However, I’ve found an, in my opinion, better solution for this: Serious Samurize in combination with the minibrowser plugin. You can find it here:

    This is easier to configure in my opinion and it’s ‘active’: you can click links etc as if you’re using a browser. Also, as for performance, it only uses (with minibrowser loaded) about 20mb ram and about 2% of my cpu (intel E6600).

  8. Anti

    Nice, very nice, ty!
    But there are two sad things:
    1. It won’t work in classic theme (for me, at least – I had to turn on Vista theme, which I really dislike – demands too much resources);
    2. It won’t play flash =)))))))))

  9. Kieron

    “but, unlike Active Desktop, they can not be interacted with”

    Thank you Ave, but it would have been even better for my type of user if you HAD permitted interaction.

    P.S. Other users having problems, i did also get that “violation notice” but stopped program, re-ran it and ok on second try.

  10. Bard


    I’d really like something that would be able to interactive. I’d pay a 5 spot for something like that.

  11. Stuart

    What a nice program. The reason I wanted it was, I wrote an html file that I used as my desktop. I use it to view pictures in a loop and have a dedicated background immage. With the removal of the active desktop function, this option was taken away from me. Simply placing the drive letter and subfolder navigation instead of the http site works great.

    Thanks for your hard work


  12. Lulu

    Didn’t work for me. I get a “Could not start hook” error message. Along with “Access violation” messages… Could it be because I’m using Vista x64 ?

  13. Lulu

    OK. It really doesn’t work in x64 afterall. :-(

    BTW, the error I was talking about earlier appeared because I already had an instance of AveDesktopSites running (since it goes straight to the icon tray, I didn’t realizefd it).


  14. m1agi20

    Will this allow me to run 3DNA desktop on my vista computer?

  15. Johannes

    I’m a bit lost. It seems that a lot of you folks got something working. After downloading the stuff all I got is a zip file of which I moved the contents to C\Program Files\Active Desktop but nothing really runs from there. It “Could not start Hook”. Who is Hook ?

  16. PeerBr

    This really rocks. I have been searching for a program to let me put text (goals, motivation) on my desktop – this is it. With some html knowledge, you can blend text seemlessly into your existing wallpaper (doesn’t support transparency).

    For those who have problems: When you click the exe, a little light-bulb appears in your tray bar (next to the clock), nothing else happens. So when you repeatedly click, you’ll get an error, but the program has started already.

  17. JP

    Great program! I like the weather maps too and had a .html file on my XP system that showed several loops/forcasts etc. This program makes me able to do it now with Vista. One problem – GIFs. Animated GIF files don’t show movement – just a stationary image. Any fix?

  18. Chris

    When you download it from his website it says, but when you open the program it says version 1.6 … I only bring this up because I think the program needs updating. It doesn’t seem to work very well. Here are a few issues I have with it

    I use it only to update a webcam picture (.jpg) that changes every 15 minutes with no change in URL. I have tried setting AvesDesktopSites to load this picture every 5 minutes, checking the live item button sometimes or not, but the picture only seems to get updated once and then not again. I can manually check online that a new picture is available.

    Another thing is it doesn’t have any tool for resizing web items easily. I just want a full screen live wallpaper(like with XP active desktop), but the picture I update is too large and I can’t resize it to my background. I only have it now a zoomed in on the center of my picture.

    I run a wirelessly connected laptop on my home network, and the picture I update can be found at:

  19. Sam

    I have been able to get ave’s desktopsites to work, but the error “floating point division by zero” pops up when it runs. If I click “OK” the error goes away and ave’s desktopsites runs, but it won’t start until I click “OK.” Any idea how to prevent this error from occurring?

  20. Mister Tumnus

    The program would not run for me…I mean it did not show anything on the desktop. Sorta defeats the purpose doesn’t it? Why not make something that works?

  21. Mister Tumnus

    I”m amazed that almost all searches for “active desktop vista” end up here. You would think they would prioritize the searches to show something that actually works.

    Why do I keep hearing people say “the sidebar is a replacement for active desktop”??? I don’t see how to display pictures on the “sidebar” so how in the heck is it a replacement?

  22. Sam

    Mister Tumnus – Set your desktop theme to “Windows Vista.” That should work for you.

  23. Drew

    I installed it and got it to the place of 1st screenshot. Then how do i put websites, links, photos and google search bar on my desktop. I am confused. Plz help

  24. Levi

    I had a chance to try this on Win 7 beta and it worked there too.

  25. Tyson

    Has anyone had any luck getting this to work under Vista x64?
    Are there any plans to make it x64 compatible?

  26. Michael

    When I ran it I could add website and apply, but nothing happened. I am using a 64-bit Vista. Did I do something wrong or is it not compatible with my OS?

  27. shu


    I have a 64 bit Vista Quad Core beast of a system. I have dual 22″ monitors. I have a blackberry. I’m a google calendar user, and I found that when I had xp on my old, weak desktop I forgot less appointments and was generally more productive and more ‘with it’ due to the google calendar on the active desktop. How about a bounty for, specifically, using google calendar in the background on one panel of my dual screen? I will offer the bounty. If you can make it happen, I’ll pay via paypal. You would be helping me and the rest of the non-coding world pull off something hugely important to productivity. Please… I got fifty bucks on it. help?
    eyehaul AT


  28. Jason

    Enhancement request, I am using dual monitors and try to increment the “left” field to like 1700 or 1800 but it does not display correctly on the second monitor. I also use display fusion which seems to conflict with as well.


    Me parece un excelente programa y funciona ademàs en window 7 beta, salvo algunos detalles como son:
    1.- Al ejecutar el error inicial “divide po 0”
    2.- No mantiene los cambiios al iniciar windows..
    3.- Funciona con archivos flash, pero el video se ve descontinuado “con saltos”
    4.- Faltan opciones para ver la pagina o archivo flash, como:
    a) Pantalla completa
    b) Centrada
    c) Etc.

    Felicito sinceramente al autor y le dejo estas inquietudes para una posible actualizaciòn futura.

    Muchas Gracias.




    I think an excellent program and it works also in window 7 beta, but some details such as:
    1 .- In carrying out the initial error “divide po 0”
    2 .- It keeps cambiios to start windows ..
    3 .- Works with flash files, but the video is discontinued “jumping”
    4 .- Missing options page or view the flash file, like:
    a) Full Screen
    b) Focus
    c) Etc.

    I warmly congratulate the author and I leave those concerns for a possible future update.


  31. zaheer ahmmad

    I think an excellent program and it works also in window 7 beta, but some details such as:
    1 .- In carrying out the initial error “divide po 0″
    2 .- It keeps cambiios to start windows ..
    3 .- Works with flash files, but the video is discontinued “jumping”
    4 .- Missing options page or view the flash file, like:
    a) Full Screen
    b) Focus
    c) Etc.

    I warmly congratulate the author and I leave those concerns for a possible future update
    zaheer ahmad

  32. Miff

    This looks nice… but it messes up when using multiple monitors… :-(

  33. Navi

    my compute do not show desktop

  34. NessaRev

    Do not open, it says “could not start the hook” and opens hundred and one warnig windows of acces violation!

  35. Rhillest

    Did the same for me…. But, look for light bulb in taskbar!

  36. Trance

    I’m getting a 404 on the download location. is this hosted anywhere else?

  37. Nate108

    Wish links and such worked.

  38. Alain

    Has Andrea repaired this ? { I guess not since the links are no good } @Geek :: so… is there a way to set an animated gif (ot whatever) as desktop item ?
    > Instant Update: most every time i write a question with concision, the answer reveals itself to be at hand : it’s moved to what i guess is Andrea’s own site:

  39. Panzz

    il is awesome. but it can’t apply animating flash media Seamlessly.

More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!