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How to Install Custom Themes by neiio How to Install Custom Themes by neiio

How to Install & Use Custom 3rd Party Themes for Widows Xp, 7, 8/8.1, 10 RTM & November 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.


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.

UXThemePatcher Windows10 November Update

This method always for support for themes on Windows 10 November Update only.  Remember to create a system restore point first!

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 "%windir%ResourcesThemes" folder (where %windir% 
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 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:
longtray Featured By Owner 5 days ago  New Deviant
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?
mrjon17 Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2015  New Deviant
Dreck-59 Featured By Owner Sep 1, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
Hi. I run Windows 7 Navigation Buttons Customizer as administrator but its never worked for me. :(  any clues ? thanks
mitras Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2015
Hi, i would like to know if it's possible to install themes initially made for windows 7/8 or 8.1 on Windows 10 ?
I knows that almost all customize software are compatible but maybe sone files of theme can make any issue ??

Sorry if it's a stupid question :D (Big Grin)  and thank you by advance
cyralie Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2015
Nope, not a good idea.
ACID01001001 Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2015  Professional General Artist
Do you have anything for Linux users?
321samau5 Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2015
I cant move any files in to C:/Windows/Resources/Themes :( 
aaron001999 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2015
i install every thing, everything works, except when a themes task bar is at the top of the screen, the graphics are messed (part isnt showing and is just the normal the taskbar look) also the windows wont go rounded or parts wont dissappear.
Zylon101 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2015
I installed UxStyle 64-Bit
*restart pc*
I installed UltraUXThemePatcher
*restart pc*
I download a VS, put it in "C:\windows\resources\themes", has a .theme file and a .msstyles file.
Double-Click the .theme file....
Loads a bit..
Goes back to how windows 7 looked right out the box.
(Yes the service "UnsignedThemes" is running)
Am I missing something crucial?
empeb Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2015
Kimera-Kimera Featured By Owner May 24, 2015  Hobbyist Photographer
After i restart my computer i get my normal theme again. And yours doesnt stay on.
angelus-novus Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2015
Same problem as TUVAlex and a lot of other users. Searched the net and no one still provide any info about that.
My case: UxStyle initially works then, after a system update, completely stop working. It is still installed but when you try to apply any custom theme it changes only the wallpaper (if theme comes with wallpaper) and windows colors but it does not change anything else. Already tried to uninstall and reinstall it with several boots. Tried also UltraUXtheme patcher or any other tool in the net. NOTHING works.
Since system update is necessary, I would like to know if someone solved the issue.
System: win8.1 pro x64
fs-71-gh Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2015
Same happens to me too. OS Spec is same (probably update 3)
angelus-novus Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2015
I solved installing and uninstalling several times ultrauxthemepatcher. It fixes the issue but I have to say that I don't know how. Try it. Install and uninstall several times.
TUVAlex Featured By Owner Apr 23, 2015
I've tried a couple different themes including your Axonkolor one for Win 8 / 8.1. I'm running Windows 8.1 with 64 bit, and I followed all the steps, however when I go to double-click the theme and apply it, the theme won't load. My bars all go grey (just a default I guess regardless of theme this happens) and the desktop stays the same. 

Is there something easy I'm missing? or? 

The thumbnail for the theme in my "Installed Themes" tab is just black btw, with no pic. 
bbabel Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks to you I can finally have a decent look on my windows 8. Thank you for your work.
Rima12 Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Sorry the first thing I thought of when I saw the pic was Pac-Man xD
confirmedsfw Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2015
Is it easy to undo all of this if it causes issues?
froireier Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2015
The moment you install the Patcher... the installer itself will set an automatic "System Restore Point"

So basically, if everything goes to shit, you only need the use System Restore :D
confirmedsfw Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2015
Ok cool :) Sounds good. I'm running a theme right now and it looks really nice so I think I'll keep it.
charlesammich Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2015  Hobbyist
Nanayru Featured By Owner Mar 8, 2015
Can i translate this text to Brazilian Portuguese?
rott6n Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2015
Eu espero que não tenha problema. Só com as configurações dos atalhos. Ajuda a gente, Liv :3
finnnnR Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2015
uxstyle 32bit for win7? i couldnt install uxstyle because im running on win7 32bit
help please! 
RandArch Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
after downloading you will find the installer with x86 at the end. That is the 32bit one
finnnnR Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2015
thank you! :)
Thesureone Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2015
Thank you!
TheSpaceKnight Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2015
Can somebody make a video tutorial on how to install it? i can't quite figure it out
Hammer-and-Nail86 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2015
Nice tutorial man. Do you experienced of explorer.exe crash or something?
Criticsauvage Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2014  Professional Writer
Can you let me ask you if you know wich win8 Os will tolerated a Shell32 replacement or patching if you dont mind.
Criticsauvage Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2014  Professional Writer
May you let me ask you if any of you fond a way to patch or replace the shell32.dll system32 file in windows 8.1 64 bits cause my system wont boot if i patch or replace the shell32.dll file in it. May i let you also note that i ave recently learn that the reason why i cannot patch the shell32 is that since 8.1 the shell32 is digitalize and the system wont boot if icons ave been change in that file and this even if i patched imageres.dll and some other system file without booting issue.
LeoCronis Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Student Interface Designer
None of those Kishan-Bagaria applications work. Are there any alternative applications that can do the job?
Just-A-Micro Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much :D
Estecka Featured By Owner Edited Nov 8, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Do I have to go through the whole guideline, or should be UltraUXThemPatcher be enough to use this theme?
Because Concave VS is still not working for me...
rmteddy Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2014  Student Artist
how to download this themes? response please... thank you ^_^
RedAbsol0 Featured By Owner Oct 26, 2014  Student Digital Artist
The download button.
SoaringKiwi Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2014
I was using themes on here but then it suddenly stopped working
rsteve15 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Student Interface Designer
Hi, could you be a little more specific on how to install this ? when I clicked on Download I got a zip file. Do I extract then move the file to the theme folder in Windows ? thanks
neiio Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist Interface Designer
This is just the instructions on how to install themes.
rsteve15 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Student Interface Designer
Yes, so what do you after you get the zip file ?
Kaz89 Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2014
hi there well I got en error Uh oh, something went wrong with uxstyl.:( what shall I do? plz help
masterJehu Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2014  Student Writer
Thanks ;)
this is really helpful :D
NightmareInsperation Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
hey, i like your theme.

i got it working fine one time but now, it's not working.
(windows 7)
i got uxstyle and installed it.
i used the theme yesterday but i changed it away and back, and ever since then i cant get installed themes to work.
when i select the theme appears to have changed to it but visual styles gets automatically disabled every time, and when i turn it back on the style goes back to default- but in personalisation it says it's still the theme im trying to get.

my computer is playing a cruel game against a newbie to changing themes. -w-

im actually starting to think uxstyles is the cause.
i think i threw in the theme first and that's when it worked, but then i was playing around with some more themes and installed uxstyles and now none of the installed themes will work. (-i think-)
but i cant find the uxstyles folder to know for sure. w-w
flecheur Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2014  Student Interface Designer
i have windows 8 installed on my laptop an i5 and i wish to use these theme to change my graphics but i cant download it
so please if someone  can provide me with a step by step method in downloading and installing it

spartanhooah Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2014
Hi. I've admired your work for years (starting on Custo), but I've always had problems with themes after Windows XP. I followed your instructions and tried out your Discovery theme, but I think something didn't go quite right: What happened?
Gr1mW0lf Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Did a recent 8.1 update break 3rd party themes? I've followed these steps on two separate computers to install two separate themes made by different people, and they both have the same problem; some larger window elements and fonts don't get properly replaced.
It's just like in IBN5200's photo further down.
I tried using both UXStyle and UltraUXTheme separately. Same result in all cases.
Bukarus Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Try using oldnewexplorer, it fixed that problem for me.
joshynini Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2014  Student General Artist
Hi guys! I'm new to this 3rd party theme customization, and so I'm thinking which software to use to enable 3rd party themes in my Win 7 laptop. My understanding is that UltraUXThemePatcher will patch the system files, and UxStyle will not, but every boot there's a system service and kernel driver running in the background. So UltraUXThemePatcher is the faster one between the two? What are your comments on this?
Add a Comment:


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