Unsanity's ShapeShifter – on this month's Macworld cover CD – has sparked a new craze: desktop skinning.

In an interview with Wired, VP of creative at Frog Design Mark Rolston, predicts that the ShapeShifter hobbyist community is at the forefront of what may be the next big thing in computing: "Skinning the operating system."

The Skinners design downloadable schemes and themes that can be used with Unsanity's £11 ShapeShifter utility, which allows the Mac OS X desktop interface, including menus, windows, buttons and boxes, to be customized.

There is no central repository of these themes, but Wired has pulled together a selection of the best designs available.

ShapeShifter's primary author Jason Harris told Wired: "We're going to see a renaissance of exciting new OS X customizations. The theme creators no longer need to spend their every waking hour doing tech support, and their creativity is no longer constrained by the need to fit exactly into Aqua's mold."

Mark Rolston notes that Apple is experimenting with skinning OS X: "The system's overall appearance has gone from the fruity look of Aqua to the metallic look of Panther. Apple is skinning everyone's desktop according to Steve Jobs' taste."

He also predicts that Microsoft will follow a similar tack: "There's great equity in Disney offering a Disney interface, with Disneyesque buttons and icons, and menus and toolbars."

Summing up the attraction of skinning, Rolston said: "You sit in front of your computer all day and it represents you. You should care more about how it looks than your clothes. It's a highly personal workspace, and the skin of the desktop is a great way to personalize it."