LiteStep Manual


LiteStep is a replacement shell for the standard Windows® Explorer shell.

The Explorer shell provides the familiar desktop environment, start menu, and task bar. The developers of LiteStep (and thousands of users) have found the Explorer shell to be static, cumbersome and otherwise too ugly to use. Thus exists LiteStep.

LiteStep replaces that environment in just about any way that you might find useful (and eye catching). LiteStep provides the way to make your desktop interface unique, enjoyable and dynamic. The desktop environments that the LiteStep users create range from a blank screen full of functionality based on hotkeys and hotspots, to eye pleasing morphing menus and sliding toolbars filled with graphical and informative displays of system status, the latest news headlines and the current weather report.

See also:

Please visit our community websites:
  • The LiteStep Development Team's portal.
  • Contains all official LiteStep releases.
  • LiteStep module development resources.
  • Community contact information.
  • The largest LiteStep theme gallery and community website.
  • Screenshot and theme repository.
  • Module downloads.
  • User forums for everything LiteStep related.
  • Module downloads.


LiteStep requires only that you are running a 32bit version of Windows:

Windows 95, Windows 98(se), Windows ME, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 2003

NOTE: Windows Vista/2008 32bit versions are not supported in 0.24.8! Please check our website for experimental builds containing support for running under both 32bit and 64bit Windows XP/Vista/2008/Win7 versions.

LiteStep is designed to consume less resources than the Explorer shell which it replaces; so there are no system requirements above and beyond that which is needed for a normal Windows-based system.

However, depending on what modules (add-ons) are loaded, any given desktop environment will have its own system requirements. This may range from being only compatible with Win2K/XP or requiring a 3d accelerated graphics card. Be sure to read the accompanying documentation for any theme or module that you choose to install.


NOTE: You are about to install a replacement shell for Windows. A shell is not a normal application; it runs as a special system process. Replacing the shell is not a supported procedure by Microsoft®, and as such, it is possible that if you do something wrong, you may end up with a non functional desktop and/ or your system may display an erroneous error message asking you to re-install Windows. Do not panic, a very simple solution will put you back to where you need to be, so that you can fix whatever mistake you made, and try again. Please read the documentation on this topic that came with your LiteStep distribution, or review the "Manual Install" steps below.

Now that you are ready to get going, there are a couple of methods to start using LiteStep.

You MUST have administrative access to install LiteStep.

LiteStep Distributions (Recommended and automated)

The recommended way to start with LiteStep is to install one of the community driven LiteStep distributions. Typically these distributions come with a friendly step by step installation wizard that will set your system up using a default desktop environment and theme. Currently we recommend using LOSI - "LiteStep Open Source Installer" implementing the Open Theme Standard 2 (OTS2) by Tobbe.

LOSI may be downloaded from at

Regardless of which distribution you use, you will find plenty of help on the LiteStep Mailing List (LSML) and user forums on one of the community websites. Please join us in our IRC channel #litestep on Freenode ( if you have any immediate support need. However, be patient when asking a question as IRC is renown for being full of idlers.

LiteStep From Scratch (Manual install and configuration)

STOP: If you are not highly familiar with editing the registry or reading lots of documentation and editing text configuration files, then this procedure is not for you! Please use a LiteStep Distribution. Thank you.

For the do-it-yourself type, please thoroughly read the following before proceeding. It will save you a lot of headache. I promise.

Create a folder for LiteStep. Generally this is done at C:\LiteStep.

Extract the contents of to this folder. Once the contents are extracted, there should be a file located at C:\LiteStep\litestep.exe.

Create a text file named step.rc and place it in the same folder as litestep.exe. Using the previous example location, this empty text file should now be at C:\LiteStep\step.rc.

Next, consult the section USAGE (HELP) to configure LiteStep via the step.rc text file (A sample step.rc is provided in that section). Do not set LiteStep as your shell until you have configured it, otherwise you will be left with a dysfunctional (yet recoverable) system.

To set LiteStep as your shell, follow these instructions:

  1. Win9x/ME

    • Using a text editor (e.g. Notepad) open the Windows System file named "system.ini". This file's location is normally C:\Windows\system.ini

    • Locate the line that begins with shell=. This line is located in the [boot] section. Typically the full line looks like shell=explorer.exe (without quotation marks). Comment out this line (which disables it) by placing a semi-colon at the beginning of the line. The line should now look like ;shell=explorer.exe (without the quotation marks).

    • Create a new shell= line in the same location as the one removed. This new line should contain the location of litestep.exe. For example it might look like shell=C:\LiteStep\litestep.exe (without the quotation marks).

    • Reboot your system.

    • README! When you reboot, if you get the error:


    Do not reinstall windows! Just simply follow the instructions below to put your shell back to the default:

    Boot into DOS (press F8 before Windows starts, or use a DOS boot disk). Issue the command edit C:\Windows\system.ini adjusting for the location of your system.ini file. Delete the new line you created in the previous steps, and uncomment the line you previously disabled. Do this by deleting the semicolon at the start of the line. You should now have one line that starts with shell= in the [boot] section of the system.ini file, shell=explorer.exe. Save the file and reboot your system.

  2. Win2K/XP

    • Note: If you are not an administrator, you will most likely not be able to set LiteStep as your shell. The only exception to this is if your System Administrator has enabled per user shells. This is highly unlikely.

      While it is possible to run LiteStep at the same time as the default Explorer shell, it is discouraged and completely unsupported. Good luck!

    • Open ''regedit'' or a similar utility.

    • To ENABLE per user shells:

      • Locate the following key:
        HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion \IniFileMapping\system.ini\boot

      • Change the string value named Shell to:
        USR:Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

    • To DISABLE per user shells:

      • Locate the following key:
        HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion \IniFileMapping\system.ini\boot

      • Change the string value named Shell to:
        SYS:Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

    • To set the system's default shell (The shell all users use if per user shells are disabled, or if a user does not have a custom shell specified):

      • Locate the following key:
        HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

      • Change the string value named Shell to the location of the file you want to use as your default system shell.

      For LiteStep use (adjust path as necessary):

      For Explorer use (do not specify a path):

    • To set the shell for the currently logged in user:

      • Locate the following key:
        HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

      • Change (create) the string value named Shell to the location of the file you want to use as your current user shell.

      • For LiteStep use (adjust path as necessary):

      • For Explorer use (do not specify a path):

    • To use any shell besides Explorer, the following key must be changed. If you do not configure this key, you will not be able to use the Explorer File Manager.

      • Locate the following key:

      • Change (create) the DWORD value named DesktopProcess to a value of 1.

    • If you changed the per user shell setting, you must reboot. Otherwise simply log off. When you return to the desktop, LiteStep will be running as your shell if you managed to configure everything correctly.

    • If you end up with a blank or otherwise non-functional desktop. Press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC key combination. The Windows Task Manager will open. Use the File menu to Run a New Task. Launch your registry editor and use the previous instructions to set your system shell back to the default Explorer shell.


The following section lays out the structure of LiteStep, and the available configuration options. When used within this document to describe a parameter value, <> means a required parameter, and {} means an optional parameter.

An always available built-in "Recovery Menu" can be accessed by pressing the key combination: CTRL+ALT+F1 that is, press and hold the CTRL key and the ALT key then depress the F1 key and release all three. A popup menu will appear at your mouse cursor location. This menu can be used recover from a broken configuration.

A) LiteStep Structure

LiteStep is designed around a modular plugin system. The LiteStep "core" by itself is rather useless to you until you configure and load a plugin. These plugins are called "Modules" and are available from several LiteStep community websites (See the ABOUT section).

The LiteStep core consists of:

  • litestep.exe : Main executable. Loads modules, handles window messages communication. Runs startup apps, includes DDE and tray services.

  • lsapi.dll : LiteStep API for modules to use. Loads and parses step.rc; handles $evars$ and all other configuration. Manages !bang commands, includes core !bangs.

  • hook.dll : The system shell hook used by some legacy LiteStep modules for receiving global system messages.

LiteStep also depends on libpng13.dll and zlib1.dll for Portable Network Graphics (PNG) image support. Those two files must exist in the same directory as "litestep.exe" or in the system path.

LiteStep uses a text configuration file named step.rc which must exist in the same directory as litestep.exe.

LiteStep loads Modules which use the LiteStep API lsapi.dll to read their configuration values, create advanced graphical displays and interact with the LiteStep core to provide you with a highly functional and eye-caching desktop.

B) Command Line Parameters

litestep.exe has several command line switches to perform various actions.

  • -nostartup
    : Disables running Windows startup items when loading LiteStep. This is useful on Windows 95, Windows 98(se) and Windows ME if you need to restart LiteStep.

    On Windows 2000 and Windows XP this switch is not needed
    as startup items are ran only once per session.
        ``litestep.exe -nostartup``
  • -startup
    : Force running Windows startup items when loading LiteStep. On Windows 2000 and Windows XP, startup items are run only once per session. Using this switch overrides that behavior and forces startup item execution. This is not useful on Windows 95/98(se)/ME as startup items are always ran.

    ``litestep.exe -startup``
  • !<bang command> : Passes the specified !bang command and parameters to a currently running instance of LiteStep. The previous instance of LiteStep receiving the !bang command executes the specified !bang command. This is useful for external control of LiteStep, perhaps from a script.

    : Usage:
    litestep.exe !recycle
    litestep.exe !ReloadModule "C:\LiteStep\modules\popup.dll"

  • <file> : Specifies the absolute path of the step.rc configuration file LiteStep should read its directives from. This overrides the default of using the step.rc file located in the same folder as litestep.exe. : Usage:
    litestep.exe C:\LiteStep\step.rc

C) Step.rc Syntax

The step.rc is formatted in a <command> {value} directive syntax.

  • There may be one directive per textual line.

  • <command> must not begin with a digit, be quoted, bracketed or in any other way use the reserved characters of the step.rc parsers except in the special case of * character. The following characters are reserved:

    ! $ & * ( ) - + = [ ] ; " ' < > , /

    Furthermore it is recommended that you do not use @, #, or | (vertical bar), because these characters may become reserved in the future.

  • {value} is dependent per <command> directive and is explained in each directive's documentation. If the directive is required by a Module, please read the corresponding documentation provided with the Module. See the section "Step.rc Directive Parser" for more information on possible data types.

  1. Step.rc File Parser

    • The step.rc File Parser uses these reserved characters: ;[]"'

    ; : Used at the beginning of a textual line to delineate a comment. Comments are lines that are ignored by the Directive Parser. A comment may also exist at the end of a <command> directive. Everything after (and including) the semicolon is ignored.

    See "Step.rc Directive Parser" for other reserved character descriptions.

    • The File Parser behaves similarly to a pre-processor. The File Parser is the first to touch the step.rc.

    • The step.rc File Parser evaluates the following Directives:

  2. Step.rc Directive Parser

    The step.rc Directive Parser uses these reserved characters: *$[]"'

    * : Used at the beginning of a <command> directive to delineate the ability to specify multiple <command>s of the same name (one per line).

    $$ : Used as a set around a {value} parameter to delineate that a variable expansion should occur for that parameter.

    [] : Used as a set around a {value} parameter to delineate that the contents are a single token value.

    "" : Used as a set around a {value} parameter to delineate that any enclosed whitespace is part of the value (whitespace is TABs and SPACEs).

    '' : Used as a set within the {value} parameter to delineate that the enclosed contents are a sub value.

    The step.rc Directive Parser recognizes several {value} data types. (The examples given have fictitious directive names)

    Boolean : Must be either TRUE or FALSE.

    Example: ``MyModuleHideIfEmpty TRUE``

    Color : Must be either in RGB Hexidecimal or Decimal Triplet formats.

    Example     (Hex): ``MyModuleBackgroundColor 4682B4``  
    Example (Decimal): ``MyModuleBackgroundColor 70 130 180``

    Integer : Must be a real Integer number

    Example: ``MyModuleWidth 32``

    String : Can be any non-reserved character set enclosed in quotation marks.

    Example: ``MyModuleDisplayText "This Module Rocks!"``

    Undefined/Line : An undefined value type can contain any data type, and is interpreted by a particular Module's implementation and documentation. For example a Module could require a single Directive Line contain both an Integer and String data type within a single {value}.

    Example: ``MyModuleFont Bold 16 "Courier New"``
  3. Step.rc Evaluation Parser

    • The Evaluation Parser is used by the File Parser in evaluation of the conditional directives: If and ElseIf. It is also used by the Runtime Variable Expansion handler. The Evaluation Parser looks at the expression in these parts: Variables (values), Operators and Functions.

    • Data Types

      Values in an expression are of one three fundamental types: boolean, number, or string. Booleans are logical true or false values. Numbers are IEEE 754 double-precision numbers, which includes the special values: positive/negative infinity and Not a Number (NaN). There is no distinct integer data type, as integers are subsumed by the number type. Strings are sequences of characters.

      As an expression is evaluated, values are automatically converted to different types as necessary. In the event that an explicit type conversion is needed, use one of the conversion functions. Whether implicit or explicit, type conversions follow the same set of rules, which are described in the section on Functions, below.

    • Undefined Variables

      For compatibility reasons, conditional expressions (If and ElseIf) can use undefined variables without generating an error. Any operator or function applied to an undefined value produces an undefined result. If the result of a conditional expression is undefined, then it is treated as if it were false.

      This behavior, while supported in 0.24.8, will be removed in the future. The correct way to detect undefined variables is to use the "defined" keyword:

      If defined(SomeVariable)
      If not defined(AnotherVariable)

      Defined behaves like a function that takes a variable name and returns true if that variable is defined or false if it is not. Defined is not, however, a real function because its argument must be a variable name.

      Using an undefined variable in an inline expression (one enclosed in $'s) generates an error, just as it always has.

    • Operators

      The operators that LiteStep supports are listed below from highest precedence to lowest precedence. With the exception of the three unary operators, all operators are binary and left associative.

      | Operator | Symbol |
      |-----------------|-------------------| | Parentheses: | ( ) | | Unary: | + - not | | Multiplicative: | * / div mod | | Additive: | + - | | Concatenation: | & | | Relational: | = < <= > >= <> != | | Logical AND: | and | | Logical OR: | or |

      Identity (unary +) : Returns the operand, converted to a number.

      Negation (unary -) : Returns the negative of the operand, converted to a number.

      Logical Complement (not) : Returns the logical complement of the operand, converted to a Boolean.

      Multiplication (*) : Returns the product of the operands, converted to numbers.

      Division (/) : Returns the ratio of the operands, converted to numbers.

      Integer Division (div) : Returns the quotient from a truncating division of the operands, converted to numbers.

      Modulus (mod) : Returns the remainder from a truncating division of the operands, converted to numbers.

      Addition (+) : Returns the sum of the operands, converted to numbers.

      Subtraction (-) : Returns the difference of the operands, converted to numbers.

      Concatenation (&) : Returns the concatenation of the operands, converted to strings.

      Relational Operators (=, <, <=, >, >=, <>, !=) : Returns true if the given relationship holds between the operands. If both operands are strings then they are compared as strings, otherwise they are compared as numbers. The inequality operators <> and != are interchangeable. String comparison is case-sensitive.

      Logical AND (and) : Returns true if both of the operands, converted to Booleans, are true.

      Logical OR (or) : Returns true if either of the operands, converted to Booleans, are true.

    • Functions

      LiteStep supports a small set of built-in functions that you can use in expressions. These functions are listed below in alphabetical order, with a short description.

      abs(number) : Returns the absolute value of the argument, converted to a number.

      boolean(value) : Returns its argument, converted to a Boolean. Zero, Not a Number (NaN), and the empty string map to false. All other values map to true.

      ceil(number) : Returns the ceiling (least greater integer) of the argument, converted to a number.

      contains(string, string) : Returns true if the second argument, converted to a string, is a substring of the first argument, converted to a string.

      endsWith(string, string) : Returns true if the second argument, converted to a string, is a suffix of the first argument, converted to a string.

      floor(number) : Returns the floor (greatest lesser integer) of the argument, converted to a number.

      if(condition, then, else) : Converts its first argument to a Boolean. If its true, returns the second argument (then). If its false, returns the third argument (else). This function lets you do simple conditionals in an inline expression.

      integer(value) : Returns the argument, converted to an integer. Conversion to integer is the same as conversion to number, except that infinites and NaNs become zero.

      length(string) : Returns the length of the argument, converted to a string.

      lowerCase(string) : Returns the argument, converted to a string, in lower case.

      max(number, number) : Returns the larger of its arguments, converted to numbers.

      min(number, number) : Returns the smaller of its arguments, converted to numbers.

      number(value) : Returns its argument, converted to a number. For Booleans, true maps to 1 and false maps to 0. A string is parsed as a numeric literal; if parsing fails, the string is mapped to NaN.

      pow(number, number) : Returns the first argument, converted to a number, raised to the power of the second argument, converted to a number.

      round(number) : Returns the argument, converted to a number, rounded to the nearest integer.

      startsWith(string, string) : Returns true if the second argument, converted to a string, is a prefix of the first argument, converted to a string.

      string(value) : Returns the argument, converted to a string. For Booleans, true maps to "true" and false maps to "false". Numbers are formatted as strings in the standard way.

      sqrt(number) : Returns the square root of the argument, converted to a number.

      upperCase(string) : Returns the argument, converted to a string, in upper case.

  4. Runtime Variable Expansion

    • Variable expansion supports textual replacements and expression evaluation when enclosed within a set of $ characters. (e.g. $LiteStepDir$ or $ScreenWidth - 32$)

      See "Step.rc Evaluation Parser" section above.

  5. Images, Icons and Magic Pink

    • Modules may require the loading of an image file.

      LiteStep can currently load BMP and PNG image files as well as icons from ICO files and resource libraries.

      (The examples below use the fictitious directive "ModuleBackgroundImage")

      To load a normal BMP or PNG image file, simply specify the path to the file in the Module's configuration directive that requires an image file.

      ModuleBackgroundImage "C:\folder\image.bmp"

      To load an icon from an ICO file or resource library for use as an image, use the syntax:

      ModuleBackgroundImage ".extract=<icon resource>"

      Where specifies the icon to load. See below for further details on the syntaxt for loading icons. Please note that the ".extract=" prefix is required when loading an icon file when the Module is expecting a normal image file.

      To load and merge multiple images into a single image, separate the file paths with the pipe character | using the syntax:

      ModuleBackgroundImage "C:\folder\image1.png|C:\folder\image2.png{|...}"

      where the last image specified will be on bottom, and the first image specified will be on top. It is possible to include an icon resource in this merging syntax as well, just use the ".extract=" prefix.

      Relative paths refer to files in the LiteStep image directory. Refer to LSImageFolder Step.rc directive for details.

    • If an image contains the "magic pink" RGB color 255 0 255 (FF00FF) then the portion of the image that is "magic pink" will be rendered transparent to the content below it. Some modules require a separate configuration setting to enable or disable transparency support. Refer to the Module's documentation.

    • Modules may require the specific loading of icon files. LiteStep supports loading icons from any icon resource file or archive as well as loading an icon associated with a desktop.ini file.

      It is possible to load an icon using the following syntax:

      Directly load an icon file:


      Extract an icon from a resource library (.icl, .dll, .exe, et cetera) using the specified resource index (in this example, index 9):


      Extract the associated icon from a folder's desktop.ini file:


      Relative paths refer to files in the LiteStep image directory. Refer to LSImageFolder Step.rc directive for details.

D) Step.rc Directives

Include <file> : Specifies an additional step.rc format file to include.

   ``Include C:\LiteStep\config\theme.rc``

If, ElseIf, Else, and EndIf : Conditionally parse a section of the step.rc.

   The ``If`` directive marks the start of a conditional section.  The If directive
   evaluates an expression to produce a true (nonzero) or false (zero) result.
   If the result is true then the lines following up to the next ``ElseIf``, ``Else``,
   or ``EndIf`` are parsed, otherwise they are ignored.

   The ``ElseIf`` directive behaves like an ``If``, but the expression is evaluated only
   if all of the previous ``If`` and ``ElseIf`` expressions have evaluated to false.

   The ``Else`` directive parses the lines that follow it only if all the previous
   ``If`` and ``Elseif`` expressions have evaluated to false.  There may be at most one
   ``Else`` and it must follow any ``ElseIf`` statements.

   The ``EndIf`` directive marks the end of a conditional section.  Each ``If``
   directive must have a corresponding ``EndIf``.  ``If-EndIf`` blocks may be nested to
   any depth.

   See "Step.rc Evaluation Parser" section above for conditional operators and
   expression syntax.  When referencing LiteStep variables (e-vars) do not
   enclose the variable references in dollar signs ($) when they occur in
   conditional expressions (dollar signs are only used in Runtime Variable
   Expansion - see above named section).


    If <expression>
    ElseIf <expression>

LoadModule <file> : Specifies a Module (plugin) to load.

Usage: LoadModule C:\LiteStep\modules\popup.dll

LSNoStartup <boolean> : Disables running of system Startup items.

Note: LiteStep must be restarted for this setting to take affect.

Usage: LSNoStartup TRUE

LSAutoHideModules <boolean> Automatically hides all LiteStep modules from the display when an application enters Full Screen mode. (e.g. A full screen game)

Usage: LSAutoHideModules TRUE

LSNoShellWarning <boolean> : Disables the warning issued when loading LiteStep if another shell is already running. Do not use this setting unless you know what you are doing!

Note: LiteStep must be restarted for this setting to take affect.

    ``LSNoShellWarning TRUE``

LSSetAsShell <boolean> : Registers LiteStep as the system shell on load. This will enable an automatic re-spawn of LiteStep if LiteStep exits inadvertently. However, this feature is experimental and not recommended at this time. If you experience problem using Explorer as your file manager, try disabling this setting.

Note: LiteStep must be restarted for this setting to take affect.

    ``LSSetAsShell TRUE``

LSUseSystemDDE <boolean> : Enables Dynamic Data Exchange under LiteStep. This is required to enable many features of the Explorer file manager and other system services. However its functionality is not fully developed at this time and irregularities may exist. If you experience resource usage troubles, try disabling this setting.

**Note:** LiteStep must be restarted for this setting to take affect.

    ``LSUseSystemDDE TRUE``

LSDisableTrayService <boolean> : Disables the Icon Notification (Systray) service. This is useful if you have to run LiteStep on top of another shell, or if you have another application implementing the service.

**Note:** LiteStep must be restarted for this setting to take affect.

    ``LSDisableTrayService TRUE``

LSImageFolder <path> : Sets the default folder that LiteStep looks in when loading images. This will default to \images\ (e.g. C:\LiteStep\images).

    ``LSImageFolder "C:\LiteStep\themes\mytheme\images\"``

ThemeAuthor <string> : Sets the name of the Author of the current Theme and is displayed in the !About box dialog.

    ``ThemeAuthor "Mr. ThemeWizard"``

ThemeName <string> : Sets the name of the current Theme and is displayed in the !About box dialog.

    ``ThemeName "Elite-h/\x"``

LSLogLevel : (Deprecated)

LSLogFile : (Deprecated)

E) Step.rc Variables

Variables that are evaluated at runtime when enclosed in $ characters.

  1. Folder Path Expansions

  2. Conditional Expansions

  3. Resource Expansions

  4. GUID Folder Mapping Expansions


F) !Bang Commands

!About : Displays the About LiteStep dialog.


!Alert : Displays a message box.

    ``!Alert <message> {title}``

!CascadeWindows : Cascades all non-minimized application windows.

Usage: !CascadeWindows

!Confirm : Displays a message box that allows the user to choose Yes or No. Executes a different command based on the users choice.

    ``!Confirm <message> {title} <yes-command> <no-command>``

!Execute : Executes a sequence of programs or bang commands.

    ``!Execute [<command-1>]{[<command-2>]...[<command-n>]}``

!HideModules : Hides all modules.

Usage: !HideModules

!Logoff : Logs off the current user. Does not display a prompt first.


!MinimizeWindows : Minimizes all application windows.

Usage: !MinimizeWindows

!None : Does nothing. Useful as a placeholder where a command is required.

Usage: !None

!Quit : Shuts down LiteStep, but does not shut down Windows. Be careful as there will not be a shell running after this command is executed.

Usage: !Quit

!Recycle : Reloads configuration files and modules. You can pause a recycle operation by holding down the shift key. This allows you to replace a module without quiting LiteStep.


!Refresh : Reloads configuration files and notifies modules to update, however not all modules support this.


!Reload : Reloads configuration files. Does not reload modules or notify them.


!ReloadModule : Reloads a specific module. Does not reload configuration files. If the specified module is not already loaded, it is loaded.

Usage: !ReloadModule <path>

!RestoreWindows : Restores all minimized application windows.


!Run : Displays the Windows Run dialog box.


!ShowModules : Shows all modules after having been hidden using !HideModules.


!Shutdown : Displays the Windows Shutdown dialog box.


!SwitchUser : On Windows XP with Fast User Switching enabled, this command will switch to another user without logging off the current user. On other systems this command will lock the workstation.


!TileWindowsH : Tiles all non-minimized application windows horizontally.


!TileWindowsV : Tiles all non-minimized application windows vertically.


!ToggleModules : Toggles the visibility of all modules. See !HideModules and !ShowModules.


!UnloadModule : Unloads a specific module.

    ``!UnloadModule <path>``

G) Sample Step.rc

STOP: Copying and pasting the following to your step.rc will not give you a working LiteStep installation. You will first need to download the relevant modules and extract them to your LiteStep folder.

NOTE: The step.rc contents is what exists between {BeginStepRC} and {EndStepRC} not including those two delimiters. Create the step.rc file in the same folder as litestep.exe.

; This is an EXAMPLE step.rc file.  This example will NOT work without
; downloading the necessary modules (plugins) and placing them in the
; same folder as litestep.exe.

; First, we need to load the modules (plugins) that we want to use.
; You may download these modules from:
; Extract these modules into your LiteStep folder.
LoadModule $LiteStepDir$hotkey.dll    ;
LoadModule $LiteStepDir$popup2.dll    ;

; Configure a Hotkey combination to launch Notepad and open this
; step.rc configuration file.
*Hotkey WIN+CTRL   S   notepad.exe "$LiteStepDir$step.rc"

; Configure a Hotkey to recycle (restart) LiteStep.  This will reload
; this step.rc configuration file with any changes, and reload all modules.
*Hotkey WIN+CTRL   R   !recycle

; Configure a Hotkey to open an explorer window and quit LiteStep.
*Hotkey WIN+CTRL   Q   !execute [explorer.exe /e,/root,,$Drives$][!quit]

; Configure a Hotkey to display LiteStep's "About" dialog.
*Hotkey WIN+CTRL   A   !about

; Configure a few default hotkeys that emulate Explorer's functionality
*Hotkey WIN        C   explorer.exe /root,,$Controls$
*Hotkey WIN        E   explorer.exe /e,/root,,$Drives$
*Hotkey WIN        L   !logoff
*Hotkey WIN        M   !MinimizeWindows
*Hotkey WIN+SHIFT  M   !RestoreWindows
*Hotkey WIN        R   !run

; NOTE: pressing CTRL+ESC or the Windows Key will display the Popup Menu.
; The Hotkey module automatically configures those hotkeys by default.

; Next, we will configure a basic Popup Menu.
HotlistName "LiteStep 0.24.8"
PopupMinWidth 125
PopupMaxWidth 300

*Popup "My Computer" !PopupMyComputer
*Popup !Separator
IF Win9x
*Popup "Start Menu" !PopupDynamicfolder:"$Startmenu$"
*Popup "Start Menu" !PopupDynamicfolder:"$Startmenu$|$CommonStartMenu$"
*Popup !Separator
*Popup "Control Panel" !PopupControlPanel
*Popup "Recent Documents" !PopupRecentDocuments
*Popup !Separator
*Popup .icon="$LiteStepDir$litestep.exe,0" "Running Tasks" !PopupTasks


Please report bugs, feature requests and other feedback to our contact address:


When reporting a bug, please include: (use the !About dialog to retrieve version information)

  • Windows OS Version and Service Pack level
  • LiteStep Core Version
  • All currently loaded modules and their versions
  • Theme name and version (if applicable)
  • Your contact information (email address)
  • A complete description of the bug and if possible a step-by-step procedure to reproduce the bug. If we can not reproduce the bug, we will not be able to fix it! So, please do your best to help us help you. Thanks!

    We look forward to working with any module developers out there. Please stop by our IRC channel #lsdev on Freenode ( We also have a dedicated LiteStep Development mailing list open to all module developers. Please visit our website for more information and links.


The LiteStep Development Team:

The Current Team:

  • Alexander Vermaat (Acidfire)
  • Chris Rempel (jugg)
  • Simon (ilmcuts)
  • Tobbe Lundberg (Tobbe)
  • (Inactive Members)
    • Joshua Seagoe (RabidCow)
    • Kevin Schaffer (Maduin)
    • Vidar T. Fauske (Xjill)

LiteStep 0.24.8

  • Alexander Vermaat (Acidfire)
  • Chris Rempel (jugg)
  • Kevin Schaffer (Maduin)
  • Simon (ilmcuts)
  • Tobbe Lundberg (Tobbe)

LiteStep 0.24.7

  • Bobby G Vineyard (Message)
  • Chris Rempel (jugg)
  • Simon (ilmcuts)

Previous Developers

  • LiteSTEP Creator : Francis Gastellu (Lonerunnr)

  • v0.24.0 Developers & Team : Brandon Williams (Floach)
    Bryan Kilian (MHolmesIV)
    Damian Hodgkiss (Mian)
    Marlon West (AnTiMTtr)
    Chad Boyda (Toasty)
    Brad Webb (webba)
    Jonathan Vaughn (Sehnsucht)
    Warren Konkel (Warren)
    Ian Hanschen (Furan)
    Todd Kadrie (tin
    Edwin Man (TheMAN)
    Josh Devens (cael)
    Sam Phillips (Sammy)
    Scott Nance (Cyric^)
    Tim Lloyd (Apollo18)
    David Walker (PhenomTT)

  • v0.24.2 Developers : Bryan Kilian (MHolmesIV)
    Fahim Farook (Fahim)
    Warren Konkel (Warren)

  • v0.24.3 Developers : Bryan Kilian (MHolmesIV)
    Fahim Farook (Fahim)
    Warren Konkel (Warren)

  • v0.24.4 Developers : Bryan Kilian (MHolmesIV)
    Fahim Farook (Fahim)
    Johan Redestig (Re5ource)
    Josh Devens (cael)

  • v0.24.5 Developers & Team
    and 11-23-99 era code : Bryan Kilian (MHolmesIV)
    Fahim Farook (Fahim)
    Johan Redestig (Re5ource)
    Drew (snowchyld)
    Warren Konkel (Warren)
    Brad Webb (webba)
    Edwin Man (TheMAN)
    Från (cbjcyber)
    James Brown (Ender_Gcc)
    Shaheen Gandhi (Visigoth)
    Torsten Stelling (Murphy)
    Kevin Schaffer (Maduin)
    Peter Edwards ((e))
    Chris Rempel (jugg)
    Lowell Heddings (GeekMaster)
    B. Todd Kleinert II (WareWolf)
    Bob Wells (Bob)
    Kirill Arushanov (c0mrade)

  • v0.24.6 Developers & Team : Oliver Nutter (Headius)
    Bobby G. Vinyard (Message)
    Joachim Clavert (NeXTer)
    Kevin Schaffer (Maduin)
    Dustin Williams (noodge)
    Richard Lin (Chaku)
    Zakhar Arushanov (cccp)
    Torsten Stelling (Murphy)
    Gustav Munkby (grd)
    Bret Anderson (MrJukes)
    John Mc Graw Jr. (DeViLbOi)
    Daniel Massey (ondioline)
    David Fraser (dreamer)
    Steve Dunstan (jalist)
    Joel D. Parker (rootrider)
    Kelly Rabourn (ksr)
    Brandon S. (nivenh)

And thanks to all of those who have contributed to LiteStep and its community over the last 10+ years! It is much appreciated by everyone.


A) Documentation License Notice

Copyright (c) 2005-2009 LiteStep Development Team

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the
terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version
published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no
Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.  A copy of the license is included
in license.txt.

B) LiteStep License Notice

LiteStep is a replacement shell for the standard Windows® Explorer shell.  

Copyright (C) 1997-1998  Francis Gastellu  
Copyright (C) 1998-2009  LiteStep Development Team  

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under  
the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software  
Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later  

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY  
WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A  
PARTICULAR PURPOSE.  See the GNU General Public License for more details.  

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with  
this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin  
Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA  02110-1301, USA.  


Windows and Microsoft are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.

*[HTML]: Hyper Text Markup Language *[API]: Application Programming Interface *[LSML]: LiteStep Mailing List *[Win9x]: Windows 95 or 98 *[WinXP]: Windows XP *[Win2k]: Windows 2000 *[2k]: 2000 *[ME]: Millenium Edition *[DOS]: Disk Operating System *[DDE]: Dynamic Data Exchange *[RGB]: Red-Green-Blue *[OTS]: Open Theme Standard *[OTS2]: Open Theme Standard, version 2 *[PNG]: Portable Network Graphics