Change XP Themes Without Installing 3rd Party Software

Do you hate the way the default windows visual scheme looks? Do you hate the fact that you can only choose from two schemes? Well there are some solutions to fixing this problem. If your lazy and dont care about your RAM usage or other vital stuff - you can install a 3rd party style manager such as Style-XP or some Stardock product. But if you ask me those always up space, RAM, and cpu usage.

I’d rather go into display properties on my desktop and change the visual style there. However - Microsoft prevents you from adding any more visual style due to their “uxtheme.dll” file. Therefore - we must either acquire a hacked version of the file that disables the restriction of adding additional visualization themes, or we can hack it ourselves. You could of course hex edit the dll yourself, but why go through the trouble when someone has already done it for you.  Grab it here.

Now apply the patch and reboot. After that, you have to install some themes. Here are some great websites where you can get themes from:

So anyway at this point you picked out your selection of themes that you like and have the zip files and your wondering where to put them all. Well its a simple matter of extracting ALL THE FILES found in the zip files to your “c:/windows/resources/themes” directory. After you have finished extracting the files, right click on your desktop then click on “properties.” That will open the Display Properties dialog box. Then:

A. For themes with the “.msstyles” file extension: click on the “Appearance” tab then choose your desired theme from the “Windows and buttons” dialog box, then choose which color scheme you prefer from the “color scheme” dialog box (most themes only come with one color, but some come with more). You should see something like in the screenshot here:
msstyles extension
Click “apply” then close the display properties dialog box.

B. For themes with the “.theme” file extension, make sure the open “display properties” window is the “Themes” tab (it’s the default window, so you should already be looking right at it.) Choose your theme from the “themes” dialog box like below:
Once you’re done just hit apply.

C. For themes with both the “.msstyles” and “.theme” extensions, use the “.theme” version if you want to use any included icons, wallpaper, etc. Use the “.msstyles” version to use the “visual style” only without using any of the included icons, wallpaper, etc.
You’re done! Yeah, right, wouldn’t that be nice? You only wish it was that easy, because I know I do. So keep reading.
There are certain things that must be in place in order for themes to work correctly, so I recommend you double check to make sure everything is good to go before you do any of the above. So go ahead and open the “c:/windows/resources/themes” folder, and follow the below directions:

1. “.Theme” files must be directly within the “c:/windows/resources/themes” folder, and not within individual folders. Check out the screenshot to see what I mean:
If you find any in individual sub-folders, simply move the *.theme* file directly to the “c:/windows/resources/themes” folder.

2. “.Msstyles” files *must* be within their own individual sub-folders within the “c:/windows/resources/themes” folder like in the screenshot

3. After doing the above, you will need to check each individual sub-folder within the “c:/windows/resources/themes” folder, *including* the ones you didn’t have to fix, or create yourself.

Why ?  Because:
a. It is essential that the name of the sub-folder match the name of the “.msstyles” file exactly, and caps, lower case, spaces, underscores, etc., ALL count - i.e., the file “generic.msstyles” must be in a folder entitled “generic,” “Generic_01.msstyles” must be in a folder entitled “Generic_01,” etc.
b. Some “.zip” files will extract files into what I call a “sub-sub folder.” For example, the file “generic.msstyles” might be in a sub-folder of a sub-folder; i.e., “c:/windows/resources/themes/generic/generic.” If this is the case, you will need to move the “.msstyles” file into the first sub-folder, “c:/windows/resources/themes/generic.” Delete the “sub-sub” folder after you’ve moved the “.msstyles” file.

4. Some “.msstyles” themes include what is known as a “shellstyle” (”shellstyle.dll”.) “Shellstyle.dll” should be in its own sub-folder entitled “shell” within the “.msstyles” theme sub-folder, “c:/windows/resources/themes/generic/shell”. Sometimes, the “shell” sub-folder has its own sub-folders, for example, “c:/windows/resources/themes/generic/shell/normalcolor”. If this is the case, “shellstyle.dll” should be in the “normalcolor” sub-folder.

Phew! There you go, now you have a FREE way to making your desktop look great. Not only that, but you’re saving your RAM by keeping extra programs out. More often than not, you wont have to go through the trouble to check all of these things, usually the author organizes the files properly.

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Anonymous said...

This tips works like a charm..thanks geek..

Abel said...

I hope you can help me with this...

I already have the theme I want its just that im restricted on using it.

I want to know if theres a way around it