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Falling Snow on Your Desktop!

, 20 Dec 2006
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This article explains how to create an application that makes it snow on the desktop.



Every time the Christmas holidays come, I think about making funny toys for my desktop.

Searching through the Internet, you can easily find many wonderful desktop gifts for any occasion, including Christmas time. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any source code or open source samples of such desktop animations.

So, I decided to create my own application that makes it snow on the desktop over other windows. As I can see from the Internet, many authors use different ways to display snow fall on the desktop. I tried to create my application as simple as possible, and decided to develop a system tray application with numerous child flake windows. I think, this method is the simplest, but has a few limitations regarding memory and video usage.

General Steps

  1. Creating the main window.

    We need to create a hidden frame window and prevent more than one open ‘Snow’ window at the same time. The following code fragment shows how to do this:

    BOOL CSnowApp::InitInstance()
        HWND hWnd = ::FindWindow("SnowParentWindow","Snow");
           return FALSE;
        CMainFrame* pFrame = new CMainFrame;
        m_pMainWnd = pFrame;
    BOOL CMainFrame::PreCreateWindow(CREATESTRUCT& cs)
            static const TCHAR szClassName[] = 
            WNDCLASS wc;
            GetClassInfo(cs.hInstance, cs.lpszClass, &wc);
            wc.lpszClassName = szClassName;
            cs.lpszClass = szClassName;
  2. Installing the system tray icon.
    int CMainFrame::OnCreate(LPCREATESTRUCT lpCreateStruct)
        SetTrayIcon(NIM_ADD, m_hIcon, "Desktop Snow");
    BOOL CMainFrame::SetTrayIcon(DWORD dwMessage, 
                     HICON hIcon, PSTR pszTip)
        BOOL bResult = FALSE;
        tnd.cbSize = sizeof(NOTIFYICONDATA);
        tnd.hWnd = m_hWnd;
        tnd.uID = NULL;
        tnd.uFlags = NIF_MESSAGE | NIF_ICON | NIF_TIP;
        tnd.uCallbackMessage = WM_NOTIFYTRAY;
        tnd.hIcon = hIcon; 
           lstrcpyn(tnd.szTip, pszTip, sizeof(tnd.szTip));
           tnd.szTip[0] = '\0'; 
        bResult = Shell_NotifyIcon(dwMessage, &tnd); 
        return bResult;
  3. Creating the array of snow flakes.

    In this application, each snow flake has been created as a non-modal dialog window with its own timer-dependent movement function.

    CRect rcWorkArea;
    int nScreenWidth = rcWorkArea.Width();
    int nTimer = 5;
    int nPosX = 0;
    for(int i=0;i<10;i++) // 10 snow flakes
        nTimer = abs(rand()*50/RAND_MAX);
        nPosX = abs(rand()*nScreenWidth/RAND_MAX);
        CFlakeDlg* fd = new CFlakeDlg(nTimer,nPosX,this);
  4. Creating a flake shape from the bitmap.

    Before running the window, we need to create a flake region that shows the window as a real snow flake. I used the 'BitmapToRegion' function from the article of Jean-Edouard Lachand-Robert, posted here.

  5. The last step: start the timer and enjoy.

    The last thing to do is start the timer and see how the flakes move. I used a very simple algorithm below, but it is sufficient to show snow movement on the desktop.

    void CFlakeDlg::OnTimer(UINT nIDEvent) 
        if(nIDEvent == 1)
            m_nCurrentY += 5;
            if(m_nCounter == 15)
                if(((rand()*10/RAND_MAX)-5)>0) m_nIncrement = 1;
                else m_nIncrement = -1;
                m_nCounter = 0;
            m_nCurrentX += m_nIncrement;
                m_nCurrentY = 0;
                m_nCurrentX = abs(rand()*m_nScreenWidth/RAND_MAX);
                m_nTimer = abs(rand()*50/RAND_MAX);

This example can be extended by drawing snowdrifts on the desktop, displaying Santa, snowman, and other objects. You can experiment with the flakes positioning (top, topmost, bottom), number of flakes, falling speed etc.

Anyway, I hope others find this code useful for the Christmas holidays. Please feel free to report errors, issues, or requests.


This article has no explicit license attached to it but may contain usage terms in the article text or the download files themselves. If in doubt please contact the author via the discussion board below.

A list of licenses authors might use can be found here


About the Author

Igor Tolmachev
Software Developer (Senior)
Ukraine Ukraine
No Biography provided

Comments and Discussions

Generalhelp me out in doing in windows Pinmembermittyk12-Nov-09 23:54 
GeneralCPU %100 Pinmembercsf3lih20-May-07 17:42 
GeneralFlicker problem with Java window Pinmemberx-bay2-Jan-07 7:46 
GeneralRe: Flicker problem with Java window PinmemberIgor Tolmachev3-Jan-07 5:56 
Generalfeature PinmemberNick Alexeev30-Dec-06 12:56 
GeneralRe: feature PinmemberIgor Tolmachev3-Jan-07 6:00 
GeneralGood PinmemberA.N.Zayed28-Dec-06 5:54 
GeneralRe: Good PinmemberIgor Tolmachev3-Jan-07 6:01 
GeneralMy C# Article is here PinmemberIgor Tolmachev27-Dec-06 7:39 
GeneralFlicker problem with Active desktop Pinmemberdustin_26-Dec-06 5:36 
GeneralAlso Happy Eid:) PinmemberMuammar©26-Dec-06 4:52 
GeneralMerry X-Mas!! PinmemberMuammar©25-Dec-06 20:53 
GeneralVery nice snow :) PinmemberEzz Khayyat25-Dec-06 15:37 
GeneralRe: Very nice snow :) PinmemberIgor Tolmachev3-Jan-07 6:02 
GeneralIts snowing on a sunny day. PinmemberMr.Prakash25-Dec-06 3:06 
GeneralVery Nice Work (and one Suggestion) PinmemberJeffrey Walton24-Dec-06 13:11 
GeneralRe: Very Nice Work (and one Suggestion) PinmemberIgor Tolmachev25-Dec-06 3:00 
GeneralRe: Very Nice Work (and one Suggestion) PinmemberJeffrey Walton25-Dec-06 19:17 
GeneralCool Pinmembertruongcongda22-Dec-06 23:40 
GeneralRe: Cool PinmemberIgor Tolmachev25-Dec-06 3:01 
GeneralC# code is here [modified] PinmemberIgor Tolmachev22-Dec-06 10:36 
QuestionTerrific snowflakes! :) PinmemberRaven#37722-Dec-06 8:46 
AnswerRe: Terrific snowflakes! :) PinmemberIgor Tolmachev22-Dec-06 10:33 
QuestionGood job! Pinmembersb_summer22-Dec-06 7:17 
GeneralFalling Snow PinmemberTigrisan21-Dec-06 11:23 
GeneralRe: Falling Snow PinmemberIgor Tolmachev21-Dec-06 23:44 
GeneralProblem of Compil under VS2002 and later Pinmemberdf49421-Dec-06 7:07 
GeneralRe: Problem of Compil under VS2002 and later PinmemberIgor Tolmachev21-Dec-06 7:23 
GeneralRe: Problem of Compil under VS2002 and later Pinmemberdf49421-Dec-06 7:26 
GeneralRe: Problem of Compil under VS2002 and later PinmemberIgor Tolmachev21-Dec-06 7:28 
GeneralRe: Problem of Compil under VS2002 and later Pinmemberdf49421-Dec-06 7:25 
JokeHi PinmemberHugo.Pereira21-Dec-06 1:52 
GeneralRe: Hi PinmemberIgor Tolmachev21-Dec-06 7:24 
Generalhelp me pls PinmemberkinnuP20-Dec-06 23:26 
GeneralRe: help me pls PinmemberIgor Tolmachev21-Dec-06 7:26 
GeneralRe: help me pls - C# code is here PinmemberIgor Tolmachev22-Dec-06 10:38 
QuestionCan I develop C# version of this... PinmemberM Aamir Maniar20-Dec-06 21:23 
AnswerRe: Can I develop C# version of this... PinmemberIgor Tolmachev20-Dec-06 22:14 
GeneralRe: Can I develop C# version of this... Pinmembertickko0621-Dec-06 7:14 
GeneralRe: Can I develop C# version of this... PinmemberHeywood22-Dec-06 5:51 
AnswerRe: Can I develop C# version of this... - sure, C# code is here PinmemberIgor Tolmachev22-Dec-06 10:40 
GeneralRe: Can I develop C# version of this... - sure, C# code is here PinmemberM Aamir Maniar24-Dec-06 16:48 
GeneralNice again! PinmemberZhefu Zhang20-Dec-06 18:26 
GeneralCool PinmemberJason Henderson20-Dec-06 18:08 
GeneralRe: Cool PinmemberPJ Arends21-Dec-06 1:23 
GeneralNice PinmemberCoolboy12320-Dec-06 17:43 
Generalnice PinsitebuilderNick Hodapp20-Dec-06 13:09 
GeneralRe: nice PinsitebuilderNick Hodapp20-Dec-06 13:25 
GeneralRe: nice PinmemberIgor Tolmachev20-Dec-06 22:16 
GeneralRe: nice Pinmemberbobhall10622-Dec-06 0:31 

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