How-To Geek

Wait, How do I Turn on DreamScene Again?

So you installed Windows DreamScene through Windows Update, but where did it go? You can’t find it in the start menu anywhere, and it’s not in Program Files… Turns out that just installing it doesn’t always mean that it’s enabled.

If you encounter the same problem I did, you’ll have to also turn it on through the Windows Features menu. We’ll run through the entire installation just to be safe.

Installing in Windows Update

Open up Windows Update through the start menu, and you should see “There are Windows Ultimate Extras available for download”, so click on the “View available Extras” link.


Check all the updates (I already installed it before I remembered to screenshot it), and then click on the Install button.


Enabling DreamScene Component

Again, this step may not be required for you, but it was for me. Open up control panel and click the Programs link.


Then click on “Turn Windows features on or off”


Now you should see Windows Ultimate Extras and then Windows DreamScene in the list. Check the box, and then click OK.


It’ll tell you the features are being configured…


And then it will prompt you to reboot. Make sure you reboot at this step.

Choosing a DreamScene Wallpaper

Right-click on the Desktop and choose Personalize, and then choose Desktop Background. You’ll notice that the drop-down menu contains a number of new items for video files, including one for “Windows DreamScene Content”, which contains all of the new videos in the additional components pack.


You’ll also notice there are more options for how you can position both pictures and videos.


Now you’ve got moving pictures for your wallpaper. You can’t see it through the screenshot, but it’s animated… and useless…



If you want to pause the wallpaper, perhaps because you or somebody next to you is now having a seizure, just right-click on the desktop and choose Pause DreamScene.


This has to be one of the most useless features ever added to Windows. It spikes the CPU in my beefy laptop at a solid 15%.

Windows DreamScene is only available for people using Vista Ultimate, but don’t worry, you aren’t missing much.

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 09/27/07

Comments (24)

  1. Doug Nelson

    My ATI x800 can’t run DreamScene in dual-monitor mode. You need a newer/better card for that. I can’t even run it on one screen only, I’d have to completely disable one monitor. A shame, really. This is one of the reasons I bought Ultimate, even if it is a wasteful toy.

  2. The Geek

    It runs in dual-monitor mode for me… but the annoying thing is that I couldn’t figure out how to make it actually span the monitors, it just displays the same thing on both screens.

    It was supposed to be something that could run in the background and be more performant because it was integrated into the OS… but I think you’d really need one hefty system to not notice the performance hit.

  3. Doug Nelson

    I get “Windows DreamScene cannot run because the total desktop size exceeds the primary video adapter’s maximum texture size”.

    I’d be happy to have it only one one monitor, as long as my 2nd monitor still worked.

  4. kingjubba

    It looks really great…and stardock have brought out a few extras for it too…provided you download their software…which i doubt you do!

    When you play a game the desktop gets set to the colour black as default…rather annoying

  5. roselan

    runs fine on my comp. For 2 hours. Then some error message pops and I get a black background. Vista as usual.

  6. Alex Leonard

    “If you want to pause the wallpaper, perhaps because you or somebody next to you is now having a seizure”

    That made me laugh. Brightened up my morning :)

  7. MafiaMan

    Uh, this has been available in windows since 98se, I believe. I am currently running windows XP on my laptop with an “active desktop” wallpaper featuring a website with active content. I simply made a small HTML document with an embedded flash application that I got from
    Oh, and my laptop doesn’t go above 2% CPU when running this particular app, and it’s interactive!

  8. Doug Nelson

    I solved my dual monitor problem via Stardock’s dynamic .dream content. Runs at any resolution on any number of monitors with much lower CPU usage than mpg or wmv files. But they aren’t free (mine was $10)

  9. The Minstrel


    Yeah, it’s been available in a form since 98SE in the Active Desktop setting, you’re right. However Active Desktop only allowed animated .gifs, DreamScene allows videos and suchlike.

    Give us a tutorial in how NOT to install this heap of crap. I installed it thinking it to be image editing software (don’t ask, I should have done my research) and then next thing I know I’m bombarded with crap.

  10. Cody

    Animated wallpapers? Aren’t those called…oh yeah, “screensavers”? Seriously, though, who thought that would be a good idea?

  11. Katrina

    Didn;t you htink it is wierd you had to activate it in the desktop preferences? even if you insalled it you have to turn it on there

  12. CreepinJesus

    For those people saying it has a performance hit:

    DreamScene pauses the video when you switch to a full-screen application. The video stops if the desktop isn’t visible.

  13. alak

    unfortunately animated dreamscene works only if you have Windows Vista Ultimate! no use for because my comp. is Vista home premium…

  14. baba

    @alak: It works for all the vista users now. give it a try if you want.

  15. andrew

    LOL ahah, if someone is haveing a seizure.

    I love changing my desktop around, and just overall having a clean looking desktop, i do find dream scene very cool for this purpose :) and it does impress alot of people!

    it works flawlessly on my Dell XPS 720 fully speced up.

  16. kingjubba

    …i just realised my last comment ages ago sounded like i actually liked dreamscene.
    I just wanted to correct it by saying, it was truly pointless and awful.

    …so is vista for that matter, as i have uninstalled it and reverted to xp…ahh i nice sigh of relief

  17. James

    DreamScene is amazing! Sorry to u folks with slow GPUs and crappy monitors. It looks great on my 26″ flat panel. Thanks for the tip on enabling it.

  18. Paul

    Good job friendly geek,

    This was exactly the info i needed

  19. Nathan

    Every time i restart my PC i have to manually hit play on Dreamscene for it to play? It use to play automatically whenever i turned on my PC, can i fix this or do i just have to manually make it play every time i start my computer?

  20. hamidreza

    Hello thanks about your article
    I have a problem and that is there is no “+” by windows ultimate extras”.what should i do?

  21. Malih

    Vista Dreamscene is not that bad, and it deactivates when you maximize any app or launch a full screen app, it even pauses at startup, and it makes a great impression on people.

    It’s useless in a way, but it can also be soothing if you get the right video for it, that is unless you’re the kind of people who don’t use wallpaper and instead have a one color background… please don’t generalise this as useless.

  22. Gregzenegair

    I have the same problem than you Nathan. I do not know how to fix it.

  23. Britton

    Nice software toy, sure it has no use other than aesthetic reasons but it’s not just for Vista Ultimate. I have Windows 7 Ultimate x64. and this software patch for the .mui database is a cool extra feature. As desktop icons are now obsolete this helps to make the desktop useful/fun when not viewing something on one or both monitors. If it stops playing when an application is in full screen on one screen then simply right click the open space on the empty screen and play dream scene.

    It’s playing right now, though there is no options for setting it to switch on a timer. That does not matter as setting a new one is extremely easy.

    CPU performance is not an issue, even with it running the scenes, and playing recorded TV inside Windows Media Player 12 with Yahoo Messenger, Winamp, utorrent, and Firefox all loaded and running, it still kicks ass. Helps to have a video card with 1GB or more RAM and a dual core of at least 3Ghz to do all that stuff though. I can’t make Windows 7 crash, so you morons who are XP-aholics, go on and stay in the past with your heads buried in the sand.

    Custom built computers are awesome. Screw Dell, HP and the rest.

  24. bobby humphrey

    I’ve got two words for all you haters out there…. “THE MATRIX”

    BOOM!!, freakin awesome! :)

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