Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
How to Install Custom Themes by neiio How to Install Custom Themes by neiio

How to Install & Use Custom 3rd Party Themes for Windows Xp, 7, 8/8.1, 10 November & Anniversary Update!


    I get asked quite often "how to install" or such...hopefully this is able to help those just starting 
out with customizing. Feel free to use this as an open forum for those who are new, 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 utilities to patch your 
Windows and to use your favorite 3rd party theme.

Patchers WINDOWS 7, 8.1

UltraUXThemePatcher 3.0.4

Many people know from experience, that the Windows design is nice, but sooner or later it will become boring and you wish to have a different design. And here is the problem, because to use 3. Party themes you have to modify some system files, which is not everybody's thing, or buy expensive software.

*Note: This application make changes to your system files, this can lead to unexpected problems or total breakdown of Windows!


UxStyle is a bit of software that relaxes Windows theme signature requirements to enable third-party customization. Specifically, UxStyle consists of a tiny system service and a kernel driver that are loaded into memory where they hang out until reboot. No file system changes are made.

Patchers WINDOWS 10 November UPDATE


:bulletgreen: Patchers WINDOWS 10 ANNIVERSARY UPDATE


Applying Custom 3rd Party Theme

Once you have patched Windows, copy your desired theme folder (containing a .theme file and 
a folder containing .msstyles file) to "C:\Windows\Resources\Themes" folder 
Now double-click on .theme file and it'll apply the theme or you can 
apply it using Desktop Properties. Also make sure to install any included fonts first.

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 example, 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 file. 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 that file or folder 
such as replacing it. 
After taking ownership of the file, backup your original and rename it, then replace it with the 
new modded version.
For example to replace explorer.exe, first takeownership. Then rename to, for example 
explorer.bak, once that is complete replace it with the modified version of explorer.exe that you 

Changing theme fonts (Windows 7)

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 Restorator 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 resource hacker.
Step 8: Save the theme.
Step 9: Apply!"

Changing Icons

elementary iPack by neiio

This can be tricky, for those that want a blank icons.
It's very easy in Windows 7 with shortcuts to right click/Properties/Shortcut/Change Icon. With 
application and system files you have to resort to an icon packager or/as well as reshackiing the 
application and finding it's main icon and replacing it.

How to change super bar icons in Windows 7, 8 & 10

Alternate Applications/Tools

Windows 7 Themes

APPOWS by neiio 

Along with a huge gallery of Start Orbs to choose from Startorbs

Windows 8/8.1 Themes

nome 8.1 by neiio
  • OldNewExplorer is the Windows 10 (and Windows 8.1, and 8) shell extension / tweaker which can undo "improvements" to file browsing made in newer Windows version. Everything is optional for your liking
  • Aero Glass

Windows 10 Themes

Metro X - Windows 10 Edition by neiio

The tool I use to create custom Visual Styles is WindowsStyleBuilder.  You can use it to create your own themes, or modify existing themes to suite your tastes! :)
Most of my themes are OPEN SOURCE!  But out of respect please ask first before Modding for redistribution. ;)

*Parts of this tutorial were adopted from the article on the askvg website entitled How to Install 
& Use Custom 3rd Party Themes in Windows XP, Vista & 7 using Universal Theme Patcher, 
VistaGlazz and UxStyle…

Add a Comment:
misterdotjay Featured By Owner 4 hours ago
I can't get the taskbar to accept themes at all, am I doing something wrong?

Also, am I right to say that modern apps aren't themed at all?
CyberNomi Featured By Owner 2 hours ago  Hobbyist General Artist
I have the same problem... I see no differences after double clicking on it.
The-Dark-Nation Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Student Artist
Does this work for this build?
LokeYourLord Featured By Owner 2 days ago
Yo m8, how can i theme the ribbon bar in the WindowsStyleBuilder? I cannot find the Ribbon Bar color in the program. Under what category do i have to look?
neiio Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Hobbyist Interface Designer
It can't be themed as far as I know, only black or white if you set the VS parameters into High Contrast mode.
LokeYourLord Featured By Owner 2 days ago
Well i have seen some Themes changing its color. The one i am talking about is the only white bar in the image, see here:

That one is the ribbon bar right?
neiio Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Yeah it's the ribbon bar.  If you've seen themes change it's color you should contact the author.  :P
I'd be curious to see.  I know it can be changed to black I've done it myself as explained using the High Contrast mode method of forcing it through the VS.
Leezander Featured By Owner Edited Aug 18, 2016
It's probably my own fault because of not reading carefully, but it seems I'm having the same problems as merlyn333 and Shad-Wolf.

I was trying to install several themes. None of them worked. I used both patchers. Here is probably where I went wrong. The last theme I tried to install was Discovery, after that my screen went grey, then black and it turned off by itself. I restarted my computer and now I'm stuck in the login screen. Logging in gives me the same grey, then black and after that I'm back at login screen. I have been looking for a solution online, but I couldn't find any. Can anyone help us please? Btw neiio, I love your themes.
merlyn333 Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2016
Hello: I had the same result as @Shad-Wolf described, a flashing screen black and white.

I have Windows 10 Professional, x64 and I used the "Aniversary" update.

Do you know what could be wrong?

Shad-Wolf comment can be found scrolling down or in the following link:…
neiio Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2016  Hobbyist Interface Designer
What theme are you using?  What method of patching?
hydra82 Featured By Owner Edited Aug 8, 2016
For some reason when I applyed the theme it looked nothing like how it was supposed to.

I ran UXStyle 2.4.2 for Windows 10 and already used OldNewExplorer, but that was the result i got. any ideas?

this was supposed to be Arc
pmhao96 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2016  New Deviant
same problem, but only the left-side is light
neiio Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2016  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Is the theme folder in the right place?  What are you using?  November Update or Anniversary Update?
hydra82 Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2016
Angel5ds Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2016  New Deviant Student Digital Artist
lovely looking book i must say (0wQ)
LewisTheLobster Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2016   General Artist
how do i restore the files i patched?
Cesargiann811 Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2016  New Deviant
espero poder usarla
PoutySprouts Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2016  Professional Artist
"Many people know from experience, that the Windows design is nice"
LOL, smh.
Only a male would say that.
Jalshey Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2016  Hobbyist
How is that at all a male thing
Do you not know what the word "subjective" means
PoutySprouts Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2016  Professional Artist
Because most website designs like FB, YT, and DA, with their ugly cluttered fail attempts at making a classy slick simplistic theme are made by males. If you look at most of the popular female theme designers for blogger/tumblr, they're far more advanced. Men should be banned from designing altogether. If they want to design, they should get a license. Fucking sicknesses in the design world.
Jalshey Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2016  Hobbyist
Let's just round them up and shoot them down while we're making such broad brush assumptions about 50% of the world population, right?
What you find visually appealing is completely subjective. If you prefer the work of women to men, let no one stop you. If you claim that because of this men, or really ANY group, as a whole are inferior in the world of design, simply due to your personal preferences, and that they should be banned from designing because you don't like their work as much as you like a different group's… regardless of the groups, it's totalitarian discrimination in ART.
star3catcher Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2016
Don't waste your time, she's just the latest in the recent long line of wannabe-radical, edgy idiots who think surfing tumblr makes them socially profound. Oh she's a big, sassy, man-hating hardass now - we'll see how long that lasts once college and all the coddling apprenticeships and trainee programs are over and she actually has to take her shitty attitude into the real business world with real people. I'm so sure "men make ugly things and should be banned from the profession" and "I'm a professional artist because my tastes are awesome and I say so!" gets you so far in the big leagues.
PoutySprouts Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2016  Professional Artist
Nope, it's not. If you go to the majority of urban areas, the fronts of shops are splattered in unmatched banners that look like they were designed in MS paint, with garbage simple windows fonts, and puke inspired primary colors. That's why cities are so ugly, unless you go to the more expectantly classy tourist site. Most, if not all of these banners, were designed by men. Men have the hugest fucking boner for pond scum color coordination.
runicartist Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
keep at it pal
PoutySprouts Featured By Owner Aug 6, 2016  Professional Artist
Laugh LOL Junko Enoshima (Insane Laugh) [V2] 
blackitten1011 Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
What? xD
PoutySprouts Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2016  Professional Artist
Because the windows design is vomit.
rpliego Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2016
I have win10 ver. 1511 (10586.318) and don't work :(
gEebOy12 Featured By Owner Edited May 28, 2016
I will try this. Thanks.
ikuzzeArt Featured By Owner May 23, 2016
Awesome! it can be useful for me to understand how the installation work ! 
ImprovmanZero Featured By Owner May 23, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Is this compatible with other versions of 10?  If not do you know any guides that will work?
Shad-Wolf Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well this is rather disappointing… I installed the UXThemePatcher, and installed modded the files for themeui.dll, uxtheme.dll uxinit.dll by replacing the ones from UXThemePatcher, I reboot the system, and then I go to change the theme, it applies it and then it just starts flashing the screen black and white.

Windows 10 - Update: (10586), using the x64 files, because 64-bit OS. It's a pain in the arse with Windows because Microsoft removed the ability to theme the system. :/
Egor2k12 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2016
I've tried installing the Dash theme for windows 7, but the final result looks similar to the classic theme. I've triple-checked that I've done everything in this post as instructed, and there does not seem to be anything obvious that I've done wrong.
I'd like an explanation.
MercuryX Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
Not a noob at installing themes. Except I can't do it on what I have. I am using version 1511 of Windows 10....and according to the uxthemepatcher site the person has no idea how to fix it or update it.
So I guess I will never be able to enjoy themes on Win10.
bstawi Featured By Owner Edited Mar 5, 2016
i want to install this theme but i dont know how CAN ANYONE HELP?
babygenius55 Featured By Owner Edited Feb 20, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is not working for me. Only a partial change using uxthemepatcher november update. The other 2 software will still not install, well i didnt try installing uxstyle since ultraux theme patcher will not install.  version not compatible with the november update, so I don't know what suicidal angel is talking about.
rock-a-holic Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2016
I dunno why but every time I restart my system, the third party theme gets reset. Any help?
BTW thanks a bunch for the guide.
303409 Featured By Owner Edited Jan 14, 2016
I am having problems with the system files. I tried using the Take Ownership reg edit. I tried the Easy File Replace program. I even tried modifying the permissions myself. It still says "The action can't be completed because the folder or a file in it is open in another program."
EDIT: When I try Windows 7 Theme Installer it gives me an error: "File versions don't match. File won't be replaced."
cbsso Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2015
very useful, thank you so much. you're the best
kamuisuki Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2015
Hi, can you upload already patched dll for Windows 7 SP1 x64 ?
I need to install it manually.. i cant find it >.<

Thanks ^^'
longtray Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2015
I have installed many programs like UxStyle or UxThemePatcher... Everything worked but one thing isn't work is theme. Opening the custom themes just makes everything bigger a little bit such as exit, minimize, restore down buttons. They became uglier and nothing more. Does someone solve this problem for me?
LylaTheMumus Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2015  Student General Artist
I have the same problem :( I'll try out different themes, maybe that was the problem, but I don't think so. 
SuicidalAngel Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2015
Same here I remember getting it to work just once in an old installation of win 7 and several times with win xp, but I remember the themes being single files not these complex ones with sub folders and stuff ;_; maybe you need to have both patchers installed? I've read some windows updates also break 3rd party themes...
LylaTheMumus Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2015  Student General Artist
I've actually solved it by installing some stuffs I found elsewhere. But it took a day of my life ;_; still, my windows now looks darkt and perfect. :3
Wequendi Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2015
how did you solve it?, i only have this problem with a couple themes but i'd like to try those out too.
LylaTheMumus Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2016  Student General Artist
I found a video where was a link with an installer, I looked back at my history and it looks like it was taken down. I don't know what I did wrong before, but it fixed it.
SuicidalAngel Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2016
I found an alternative solution, it seems some windows updates mess with the UI and disable custom theme functionality. You can fix this issue by uninstalling either update 'KB2141007' and/or 'KB981322' depending on which you have installed. Installing both UxStyle and Ultra UX Theme Patcher also seems to have helped. Sorry if this is a bit late :l
Add a Comment:


Submitted on
October 10, 2011
File Size
175 bytes


774,023 (597 today)
2,297 (who?)
31,468 (21 today)


Creative Commons License
Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.