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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:
josue64 Apr 11, 2014  Professional Artist
This is great information. I'm a Mac user, but have Windows 7 installed using Parallels. I'm envious of the themes available for Windows users. I find customizing way better on a PC. Your tutorial is quite helpful. I often enjoy your work so now I can use some of the themes. Thank you!
BeanieHatter Apr 9, 2014  Student General Artist
thank you very much for this. Now I can refer my computer customers to this link if they want to do their own! 
how i can change my explorer and taskbar icon to blank in win 8?
Going to try this when I get my new computer. 
diaxis Feb 5, 2014  New member
I cant take ownership nad change the explorer frame.dll ...dunno why
Neffs Jan 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm rather frustrated :( I've followed the instructions to the line, but I still can't get any of your themes to successfully install. I downloaded UxStyle, installed it, rebooted, installed everything for the Theme, but when I double-click on the .theme file nothing happens beyond the Personalization window popping up... to no effect. The theme shows up as "installed" but nothing changes on my display. For the record, I have Windows 7.
yorgash Feb 2, 2014  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Try restoring the system files (with Universal Theme Patcher for example), then installing any of the system patch again.
It's almost always a problem with the system patch.
Hello, i would really like to use your win7 Nite VII skin, but when I install it, my "Startbutton" and all the other Windows standard buttons don't get changed. Like the "Back" or "Foward" button in folders. Everything else works fine. What do I need to change?

Here a picture:

I put everything that was in the "Theme" into my "Themes Folder", but what do I do with the other Folders like "Explorerframe" and "Start Orbs" and "Icons"?

Thanks alot for the nice theme. :)
harunoTragedy Jan 12, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
i know how to use rainmeter and all his stuffs  and making skins but this is badass 
thanks for sharing it
Is there a version fpr windows 8?
Add a Comment: