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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

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:

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.

All this has now an end because the UltraUXThemePatcher for Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows , Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 (for 32bit and 64bit version) can do this automatically for you. Fast, free and without problems, because if your version should not be supported, the tool will recognize this and changes nothing. Do you want to support and improve the tool, you can mail me your uxtheme.dll and maybe in the next version of this it is supported.


  • unproblematic installation
  • fast, easy and free
  • Modification of the own system files
  • multilingual
  • check the files for compatibility during the installation
  • backup from the original system files
  • rebuilding of the original system files through un-installation
  • silent installation with parameter /S


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.

(First introduced on March 19, 2009.)

Operating System Support

  • Windows codenamed “Whistler” (escrow builds)
  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8
  • Windows 8.1
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012 R2

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

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

Blanked Icons! 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…

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 Easily by |

Theme Manager - Windows 7 by bickelk

CustoPack Toolsby David-PIERON

*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:
vixxca Featured By Owner 3 days ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for clearly explanation.

I am wonder whether this kind of stuff will cause my pc into some serious system error or performance slowing down?
I changed some files  into the one's in the "bAero" theme with the "change ownership" option, and now file explorer wont load!
(The window opens, but it doesn't load, freezes, and can't be closed.)

I'd change it back, I have the backup-files, but I can't access "file explorer"!

Please help!
IBN5200 Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2014
I tried using Universal Theme patcher and UxStyles but I still receive this issue when trying to use…

Image of issue:
kirbykirby56 Featured By Owner Jul 22, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Used Theme Manager, and now everything works! yay!
miregal123 Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014
Installation is completely working fine but now i have a this white boarder:
Any idea how to fix this? i allready took ownership of Explorerframe and uxtheme etc dlll's + deleted and installed the theme again but it does not seem to be working

Hope anyone can help me, thanks :)
pcdaz Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014  New member
* Do the Themes and Cursor themes need to be at their default? I've downloaded and unzipped Windows Steam VS 8.1 and it just shows a black screen background?
Simba-Says Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  New member
it wont let me open in my computer. it keeps asking to use an app to do it. help?
Dr-Bee Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014  Hobbyist Interface Designer
nevermind rebooted again and now it works lol thanks anyway
Dr-Bee Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014  Hobbyist Interface Designer
no matter what I do even successfully patching all the files I need and rebooting. I cant get this theme to work. Yes I placed it in the correct resources - themes folder. Any help would be appreciated. I love the screenshot and I'm trying to get it just like that. Thanks gents!
FstopMike Featured By Owner Jun 26, 2014  New member
Anyone having problems finding the correct folder to put the themes in, it is here in windows 7, C:\Windows\Resources\   and there are the folders "Ease of access themes" and "Themes".  I don't know if windows 8 is the same?
Add a Comment: