Creating a Classic Skin: Introduction → The Base Skin → Paint the Main Window → Paint the Equalizer Window → Paint the Playlist Window → Paint the Minibrowser Window → Paint the AVS Window → Paint the Winamp 2.9/5.x Windows → Create Custom Cursors → Edit the Configuration Files → Compress to .WSZ format → Submit to Winamp.com
Winamp Skin Zip Files (WSZ)
The last step you need to do before unleashing your Skin on the world is to convert it to the WSZ format. How do I do that, you ask? Just follow the following steps:
- With your trusty zip compression tool of your choice, zip YOUR skin's folder (not the Winamp "Skins" folder) into a .zip file.
- Rename the new file's extension from .zip to .wsz.
- Test it by removing your skin folder, then placing your .WSZ into the Winamp "Skins" folder.
- Run Winamp, then press Alt-S to access the Skin browser. If you see your skin, then everything worked correctly.
- That's it! Pat yourself on the back, then take the next step and submit it to Winamp.com.
A Winamp skin is composed of 45 files. Most of the files that create a skin are .BMPs (a very common image file type) and a few text files. When skin support was originally implemented, an artist would have to create those skins and place them into a subdirectory of the Winamp Skins folder (usually located in
This started getting messy, because not all of the skin developers were creating subfolders when compressing their skins into a ZIP file for distribution. When an end-user uncompressed the files to the Winamp Skins folder, it would at times overwrite other skins. As a solution, we implemented the functionality into Winamp to read the .ZIP files directly. Then, an end-user would simply place the .ZIP file into their Winamp Skins folder; when using the Skin Browser in Winamp (ALT+S), the skin magically appeared and loaded, if selected.
This did clean up the mess. However, a new problem then surfaced: The .ZIP file format is a very widely used compression scheme and Winamp was just one of the many dozens of programs available to utilize it. We wanted users to be able to double-click the Skin ZIP file and have Winamp automatically install and load the skin. How do we do that without associating Winamp as the default program for handling skins? Answer: Rename the file extension.
We simply took all those compressed skins ending with the .ZIP extension and renamed them to end with .WSZ (Winamp Skin Zip). This allowed us to stay with the standard Winamp .ZIP files and not have to convert the thousands of skins available for download on the Internet. Any skins that are submitted to our site with filenames ending with .ZIP are automatically renamed to end with a .WSZ before published.
Why do all this, you ask? The answer is simple. We wanted to make it so that Winamp would automatically load the skin when a user clicked on a link to download a skin from Internet Explorer, as well as Netscape Navigator. We also wanted to make it so that if a user actually had downloaded the .WSZ file, all they would have to do is double-click it to install it.
What happens then? Well, when a person installs a .WSZ file, Winamp just copies the file to the Winamp Skins folder so that it can be handled correctly. You can also manually move the .WSZ file into your skin directory and Winamp will recognize it just as well.