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Knights of Reason - Forums • View topic - HowTo: Custom Windows XP Themes
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HowTo: Custom Windows XP Themes

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HateAnthem

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Post Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:15 pm

HowTo: Custom Windows XP Themes

Wasn't sure where to put this, so move it as necessary :)

A couple people asked me how I got the theme on windows in the desktop pictures setup working that way, so here's a very quick howto + links for detailed information.

This used to be a lot more difficult than it is now with this new patcher, I thought I would need new instructions w/ screenshots, but apparently not.

Forenote: Basically, Windows XP comes with support for extra themes/visual styles, but disables the ability to use 3rd party ones. I have no idea why. So you need to patch the file that prevents 3rd party themes from working, uxtheme.dll.

Instructions for how to do that + stuff:

1) http://fileforum.betanews.com/detail/SP ... 09580756/1 Go here and download the file. It's the uxtheme patcher. It worked fine for me on XP SP3 on my sister's pc, and it says it will work on SP2 as well. If you don't know if you have either of these (ie youre not sure if this works on your machine), go to start -> control panel -> system. Under (I think) the default tab, it will tell you what version of windows you are using. This patch is ONLY for use on Windows XP SP2 or SP3. Won't work on vista or whatnot. REBOOT.

2) Unzip the file (I think it was zipped). If you don't know how, google for 'alzip' and download and install that, then you can just right click the file to unzip it.

3) Run the program, read the msg of course, and then click patch. Reboot when its done.

4) You're all set. Now to go download a style. There are different kinds of windows themes/styles, but using this method you can only use .theme or .msstyle files. There are other programs like windows blinds that have their own themes, but you cannot use anything but the aforementioned formats. StyleXP is a program that automates all this crap, but it costs money, and this process is simple anyway. StyleXP themes I believe should be compatible, since I think theyre msstyle stuff. One good page to find skins is here. http://www.skinbase.org/Skins/msstyles/135 . This is not the only place, a LOT of places have a LOT of themes, so google for msstyles till you find something good.

* Note on rare occasions, a theme/msstyle might be an .exe, such as CoolXP. Just run it like any other program.

5) Download the theme of your choice. Unzip it. You need to understand what you are looking for. You need to find a folder named after the current theme, which contains a file ending in .msstyle. For instance, if i downloaded a theme called 'gumby.zip', i would unzip it, and i would look for a folder (sometimes, there are multiple folders in a zip) containing gumby.msstyle. I would move that folder containing gumby.msstyle to C:\Windows\Resources\Themes.

* Technical NOTE: An .msstyle is a visual style, which changes the appearance of taskbars and all the windows, which may also include some menu stuff. A .theme file will go in the C:\Windows\Resources\Themes folder itself, as will folders containing the themes files. The difference between the above visual style (msstyle) and a theme is that a theme usually contains icons, wallpapers, etc in addition to just changing windows' look itself.

6) Right click on the desktop, go to properties, go to appearance, and in the first drop down window, choose your theme. If you installed it correctly and it is a valid theme, it will be there. The next drop down menu contains variations of the current theme, which your given theme MAY or MAY NOT have. Find something you like.

* Technical NOTE: Again, if you want to use a full blown theme and set it up correctly, you can right click the desktop, go to properties, and the initial tab is 'THEMES'. You can set your theme there, and it will set your wallpaper, icons, visual style, etc to whatever the theme is using. I would recommend only doing this (its a pain and prone to error) if you comfortably got a visual style working and want to play around.
Last edited by HateAnthem on Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Yashvir

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Post Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:22 pm

Re: HowTo: Custom Windows XP Themes

i use windowblinds on my xp computer, any chance something like this is possible on vista?
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Robmanx

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Post Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:26 pm

Re: HowTo: Custom Windows XP Themes


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HateAnthem

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Post Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:29 pm

Re: HowTo: Custom Windows XP Themes

Yashvir,

http://www.winmatrix.com/forums/index.p ... opic=11742

I got this from a quick google of uxtheme patcher, so I'm not sure how good it is or whatnot, but anywho. Go to this link for vista instructions (Note: I have NO idea if they work or if they are malicious, but they appear to be okay). If youre using vista sp1, note that it has a link on top of that webpage. As for windows blinds, im pretty sure metal's right, there's probably a vista version but of course that's another program to buy or steal. I don't see the need personally, when there are themes around that are good enough.
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Yashvir

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Post Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:57 pm

Re: HowTo: Custom Windows XP Themes

thanks for that, i did it all now i just need to test it i suppose :)
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[Heigou]

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Post Sun Nov 02, 2008 4:25 pm

Re: HowTo: Custom Windows XP Themes

I already have many visual styles already.

Your tutorial was amazing for someone who didn't know about all this stuff. ^^.

Yeah.. the uxtheme.dll is much better than using a program like windowblinds / SkinXP because they are all really tacky.

Also, you don't have to have a theme file, I just double click the .msstyle and i'm off ^^
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Yashvir

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Post Sun Nov 02, 2008 4:59 pm

Re: HowTo: Custom Windows XP Themes

i cant double click the .msstyle thing. like i do and it opens up appearance settings and doesnt have the one i want :(
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HateAnthem

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Post Sun Nov 02, 2008 5:15 pm

Re: HowTo: Custom Windows XP Themes

Double check that you have the folders set up as I described.

1) Check and make sure the folder you installed to has the default vista themes in it too. If it does not, you might have to look for the folder elsewhere, I couldn't help much there.

2) Check the folder of your theme that you put in there. It must immediately have an .msstyle file in it of the same name as the parent folder. Ie, for the theme 'gumby', you should have something like C:\Windows\Resources\Themes\gumby\gumby.msstyles

3) You cannot use windows XP system styles with windows vista. Find vista ones. Like here. http://www.guimods.com/index.php?tag=vi ... -for-vista

4) If you see the style in the appearance menu, it worked ok. If not, you did not patch it correctly or it is not in the right place as per the above. In which case, you -might- have luck with http://www.codegazer.com/vistaglazz/downloads/ this program, which supposedly automates the patching process. However, I have not seen it directly say SP1 is supported anywhere, so make note of that.
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marc

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Post Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:26 am

Re: HowTo: Custom Windows XP Themes

Dood, works great man, thanx. :D

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