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How to add a timer on Windows 10

Windows 10 displays the current time in the system tray. If you click it, the digital clock will also show you the seconds as they tick by. You can add more clocks to the system tray though they will only appear if you open the date/time panel. While Windows 10 has all the basic tools for managing time, it doesn’t provide many ways to display time on the desktop.

Add a timer on Windows 10

Windows 10 has a stock Alarms and Clock app that can set alarms, accommodate clocks from multiple timezones, and run timers as well as a stopwatch. They all work inside the app which means if you need a time on the desktop, you have to look outside the app. Here’s how you can set a timer, and set a timer to run on the desktop.

1. Set timer in Alarms and Clock

Setting a timer in Alarms and Clock is as simple as you’d expect it to be;

  1. Open the Alarms and Clock app.
  2. Go to the Timer tab.
  3. Set the length for the timer, and click the play button to start it.
  4. If you want to pin the timer to the Start menu, click the pin button at the bottom right.
  5. Select Yes in the prompt that appears and the time will appear, live, on the Start Menu.

2. Set timer to run on desktop

If you’d like the timer to run on the desktop so that you can watch it count down, you need a third-party. Unfortunately, apps like this seem rare so we have to use a workaround i.e. a Rainmeter skin.

  1. Download and install Rainmeter.
  2. Unmount all the default skins (unless you need them). Right-click a skin, and select ‘Unload skin’ from the context menu.
  3. Download Magnumizer’s Countdown Timer skin from Github.
  4. Install the skin (double-click it and select Install).
  5. Open Rainmeter’s settings.
  6. Go to the Skins tab, and expand the ‘Magnumizer’s Countdown Timer’ skin folder.
  7. Select the CountDownTimer.ini file, and click Load.
  8. Go to your desktop, and double-click the new skin (it will appear as a large number on the desktop).
  9. The settings for the skin will open. Click the ‘Simple’ button to change the timer settings view.
  10. Enter the length of the timer in each field, and tap the Enter key to save it.
  11. Click Start.
  12. The skin will show the countdown on your desktop.
  13. You can customize the skin, and the timer further by opening Rainmeter’s preferences and loading Options.ini under the ‘Magnumizer’s Countdown Timer’ skin folder.
  14. You can pin the timer to the top as well.


Timer apps normally tend to stay out of the way. You can try Pomodoro apps if the skin we’ve recommended doesn’t do the job but explore its settings first. You may find that it does everything you need to if you can invest the time to set it up.

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