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How to Install & Use Custom 3rd Party Themes

I get asked quite often "how to install" or such...hopefully this is able to hel
p those just starting
out with customizing. Feel free to use this as an open forum for those who are n
ew, and those
who may be willing to help out.
Windows does not allow 3rd party themes by default thus we need to patch Windows
to be able
to use those themes. You can use either of the following mentioned free utilitie
s to patch your
Windows and to use your favorite 3rd party theme:
Universal Theme Patcher
UxTheme Patcher supports Windows XP SP2/SP3, Server 2003, Vista SP1/SP2, Server
2008 and
Windows 7. It can be used in both 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) systems.
1. You just need to run its EXE file and it'll ask you to select the language.
2. Click on OK button and it'll detect the OS and condition of the system files.
It'll show you the
information and will ask you for confirmation.
3. Click on Yes button. Now you'll see the main interface of this tool. You just
need to click on
the "Patch" button given for each file:
4.Once you patch a file, the "Restore" button gets activated so that you can res
tore the default
file in future.
5. Restart your system and you'll be able to use 3rd party themes in Windows wit
hout any
Is a very small utility created by "Rafael".
UxStyle is a light-weight system service named Unsigned Themes, complimentary to
Themes service, and a kernel driver, sizing in at ~500k and ~17kb respectfully (
beta builds).
The service handles the enabling/disabling of custom theme support and the kerne
l driver
handles patching. For 64-bit platforms, the kernel driver is signed with a digit
al certificate, as
required by Microsoft.
Simply download and install the tool and get ready to enjoy 3rd party themes. It
works in
Windows XP, Vista and 7.
Note that it doesn't have any UI. It'll run as a service in background and will
allow you to use
3rd party themes.
Applying Custom 3rd Party Theme
Once you have patched Windows, copy your desired theme folder (containing a .the
me file and
a folder containing .msstyles file) to "%windir%ResourcesThemes" folder (where %
means "Windows" directory present in system drive where Windows is installed.
Most probably C: drive). Now double-click on .theme file and it'll apply the the
me or you can
apply it using Desktop Properties. Also make sure to install any included fonts
How to Add "Take Ownership" Option to File or Folder Context Menu
Many times you need to take ownership of a file or folder in Windows. For exampl
e, when you
want to customize Windows UI (explorer.exe, explorerframe.dll, shell32.dll) and
need to replace
existing system files with a new one.
You just need to download following zip file and extract it. You'll get a .REG f
ile. Run the file
and accept the confirmation:
Take Ownership
It'll add an extra option "Take ownership" in file and folder context menu:
Now you can right-click on any file or folder and select "Take ownership" option
. It'll make you
the owner of the file or folder and you can perform your desired operation on th
at file or folder
such as replacing it.
After taking ownership of the file, backup your original and rename it, then rep
lace it with the
new modded version.
For example to replace explorer.exe, first takeownership. Then rename to, for ex
explorer.bak, once that is complete replace it with the modified version of expl
orer.exe that you
Changing theme fonts
If you want smaller fonts or to change the actual font for a theme follow these
instructions from
the WSB forums...
"Step 1: Open the theme you want to change in a resource hacker. (I use Restorat
or 2007.)
Step 2: Navigate to the string resource and expand.
Step 3: Drag/drop (or export) "Neutral" into Explorer.
Step 4: Open Neutral.rc in a text editor. (Notepad will suffice)
Step 5: Replace all instances of Font size with your preferred size.
Step 6: Save Neutral.rc
Step 7: Drag/Drop (or import) the new Neutral.rc from Explorer back into your re
source hacker.
Step 8: Save the theme.
Step 9: Apply!"
Changing Icons
This can be tricky, for those that want a blank icons Blank Icon Packager Theme
It's very easy in Windows 7 with shortcuts to right click/Properties/Shortcut/Ch
ange Icon. With
application and system files you have to resort to an icon packager or/as well a
s reshackiing the
application and finding it's main icon and replacing it.
How to change super bar icons in Windows 7 & 8
Alternate Applications/Tools
Windows 7 Start Orb Changer by | =Kishan-Bagaria
Along with a huge gallery of Start Orbs to choose from Startorbs
Windows 7 Navigation Buttons Customizer: Change Windows 7 Navigation Buttons Eas
ily by |
Theme Manager - Windows 7 by ~bickelk
CustoPack Toolsby ~David-PIERON
*Parts of this tutorial were adopted from the article on the askvg website entit
led How to Install
& Use Custom 3rd Party Themes in Windows XP, Vista & 7 using Universal Theme Pat
VistaGlazz and UxStyle