Pimp My Windows Vista: How to install new themes


The new Aero interface of Windows Vista looks really nice, but after a while you get bored of the same colors and shapes. This is why in this tutorial I will show you how to install a new theme on Windows Vista. The process is not an easy one, as we need to install some additional software, but the result will be quite satisfying.

IMPORTANT: Before starting this procedure you should log on as an administrator. If your user is not administrator, the procedure will fail.

If User Account Control (UAC) is enabled, you will be asked for permission each time you copy files to important Windows folders such as the ones mentioned below. Each time it shows up, click on Continue and the files will be copied over.

Before starting this procedure, it is recommended to create a System Restore snapshot. In case of failure, it will be very easy for you to revert back to the initial state.

Also, keep in mind that this tutorial is published with no warranties. We are not responsible for any problems you might have with your system. We tested everything multiple times on two separate computers and we did not encounter any problems. However, this is not a warranty that the procedure will work the same on all computers & configurations.

Installing VistaGlazz

The first step is to install a software called VistaGlazz.
Before you do this, you need to check if you have Windows Vista or Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 installed.
You can find out by opening the 'Control Panel'. Type 'control panel' in the Start Menu search bar and click on the first result. Alternatively, you can just click on its Start Menu shortcut.

Then click on 'System and Maintenance'.

And then on System.

Here you can see if you have Service Pack 1 (SP1) installed or not.
This is how it looks when you don't have SP1 installed.

And this is how it looks when you have it installed.

If you have SP1 installed then go to the CodeGazer homepage and download the latest version of VistaGlazz that is compatible with Windows Vista SP1. Right now, this version is VistaGlazz beta 3. Alternatively you can download it by clicking on this direct download link.

If you have Windows Vista without SP1 then, from the same page, download VistaGlazz 1.0. Alternatively you can download it by clicking on this direct download link.

After the download is done, run the setup and install VistaGlazz. Now run the application with administrative rights by right clicking on its desktop icon and selecting 'Run as administrator'.

When launched, click on 'I agree' to continue.

Now, three icons will appear: the first one will show you the status of the system '.dll' files from your computer, the second icon will show you the status of the '.msstyle' files and the last one will offer you different ways to contact the developer of the application.



Patching '.dll' and '.msstyle' files

Now click on the first icon and then on 'Patch originals' in order to replace the original '.dll' files with the ones that would allow you to install themes.

After the patching process you will have to reboot your PC. Click on the Reboot button or, if you intend to restart later, click on the Quit button.

After the restart, run VistaGlazz with administrative rights again, click on 'I agree' and then on the second icon.

Now, click the 'Patch style' button and the Windows Vista theme engine will restart in order to apply the changes made to the original files.

The first change that you should see is that the taskbar and titlebar are now transparent even if a window is maximized. Now you can close the VistaGlazz application.

Tip: If you want to restore your original Windows Vista theme files, open VistaGlazz and click on the first icon. Click on the 'Unpatch files' button and restart your PC. Then open VistaGlazz again, click on the second icon and click on the 'Restore original' button. After this, your default Windows Vista theme files will be restored.



Installing a new theme

The best place to search for new Vista themes is deviantart.com.

For demonstration purposes I will install a theme called Aero Dynamic. In order to install it, click on the 'Download' button from the left and save the file on your disk.

Now extract all the files from the archive.

Each valid theme has to have the files and folders shown in the screenshot above: en-US, Shell, a file with the '.msstyle extension and a file with the '.theme extension.

Now you need to copy these files and folders to your Windows Vista Themes folder. First, open Windows Explorer and navigate to 'C:\Windows\Resources\Themes' or go to the Run button, click on it, type '\Windows\Resources\Themes' and click on OK.

Here copy the folder with the theme that you wish to install and, if any, the file with the '.theme extension.

Then, double click the file with the '.theme' extension. In my case that file is 'Aero.Dynamic.v3.0.theme'.

A new window called Themes Settings will open. If the theme that you want to install is already selected, click on OK.

If there is no '.theme' file, enter the theme's folder and double click on the file that has the extension '.msstyle'. In my case that file is 'Aero.Dynamic.v3.0.msstyle'.

Right after you double clicked that file, a new window will appear with the Appearance Settings of Windows Vista.

Scroll down the color schemes until you find your theme. However, you should keep in mind that, by default, all the newly installed themes are named 'Aero style'. Select it and then click on 'Apply'.
After a short 'Please wait' moment and possibly a blank screen, your new theme will be applied.

Tip: If the theme has additional files or folders, read the 'Readme.txt' file and follow the instructions.



Rename the newly installed themes with VistaDeskHack

If you have multiple themes installed, you might have noticed that in the Appearance Settings window they all have the name 'Windows Aero'.

In order to change this and see their real name, you have to install a small application that will auto-rename each theme. The software application name is VistaDeskHack 1.1 and it can be downloaded from RapidShare. Alternatively, you can download it directly from our site. You will find it at the bottom of this page.

Download and extract the archive. Open it, right click on the DeskHack_Install.cmd file and select 'Run as administrator'.

A Command Prompt window will open and after a second a message that says: '1 file(s) copied. Press any key to continue...' will appear. Press any key and the window will close.

When you will open the Appearance Settings window all the new themes that you have installed will have their own 'original' name. To open the Appearance Settings window, right click on your Desktop and select Personalize -> Windows Colors and Appearance -> 'Open classic appearance properties for more colors options'.



How to revert to the default Aero theme

If for some reason you don't like the themes you have installed, reverting to the default Vista Aero theme is quite easy:
right click anywhere on your desktop and select Personalize.

Now click on Windows Colors and Appearance.

Then click on the 'Open classic appearance properties for more colors options' link.

From the new window select Windows Aero and click OK.



Related articles:
Pimp My Windows Vista: Top Windows Vista Themes
Pimp My Windows Vista: How to change your logon screen
Transform your Windows Vista into a Mac OS X Leopard - Part 1
Transform your Windows Vista into a Mac OS X Leopard - Part 2
Pimp My Windows Vista
Windows Vista Wallpapers Collection
Pimp My Windows Vista: How to change your sound scheme
Windows Aero
Windows DreamScene
Use System File Checker To Repair Windows Vista System Files
System Restore

AttachmentSize
VistaDeskHackv1.1.zip583.89 KB
VistaGlazzSetup.exe (for Windows Vista without SP1)1.03 MB
VistaGlazzBeta3.exe (for Windows Vista with SP1)283 KB


Comments

hi, thanks for the guide but

hi, thanks for the guide but unfortunately, my vistaglazz seems to have corrupted files? and now i cannot even access 'themes' from personalize. it says there's a problem with my rundll32? pls help. thankS!

Problem fix

if you have sp1 for vista and u screwed up like i have done just dowload the vistabeta3 sp1 compatible link in guide its a beta and just over patch it patch it again basically

Help.

I had the same problem. What i did was a system restore to a previous point and started again.

thanks a lot for the guide,

thanks a lot for the guide, worked perfectly.

helppppp!!~

c:\windows\system32\config\systemprofile\deskop refers to a location that is unavailable. It could be on a hard drive on this compute, or on a network.
Check to make sure that the disk is properly inserted or that you are connected to the internet or your network and try again.
If is still cannot be located the information might been moved to a different location.

i got his message when i start my computer.. i cant get in to my profile. i mean i can just get in to windows as a user.
so, can anyone help me here?\
what should i do.. i think i did something to the themes before tht,. i have downloaded vista glazz and i wanna restore back to my normal vista themes, and it call me to restart so, after restating my computer, my computer cannot locate my deskop file in systempofile.
what should i do?

Can't use my themes..?

I have followed your guide... That was great, but... When i try to apply a theme, it just go over to at theme, that looks like Windows Classic... Example: I try to apply a theme called UltimateDark... But when i do that the theme looks like Windows Classic... No matter what theme i try, it do the same... Can you help me..?

hi i successfully got my

hi i successfully got my theme. except for 1 problem. the theme isnt showing the wallpaper its supposed to. everything has changed according to the theme except this. plz help!

RE: Wallpapers

Themes do not change wallpapers if you go via "Windows colour and appearance" then "Open classic options". To change it, go straight to "Properties" followed by "Themes", then choose your theme. If it isn't there, or the wallpaper still doesn't change, you'll have to change it manually.

HELP !!

I have followed your guide... That was great, but... When i try to apply a theme, it just go over to at theme, that looks like Windows Classic... Example: I try to apply a theme called UltimateDark... But when i do that the theme looks like Windows Classic... No matter what theme i try, it do the same... Can you help me..?

the same problem as him !!

why did that hapenned and whats the solution ??

renaming thing

did i do something wrong because when i did the steps it doesnt say 1 file(s) copied but just says press any key to continue

applying the theme

same problem as those other guys. every time i get the stuff in the right place, i open that window - click "aero" since thats what new stuff is auto called, and it sets my thing to windows classic! HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

also - great guide, bbut is there an easier way to do this?

IT'S COMPLICATED.

I sort of accidently deleted part my aero theme. And now whenever i open theme under personalization, this error will appear :
C:\windows\resources\themes\aero.theme is not a valid theme.
do you know what should i do?

Shortcut to Windows Edition...

An easier way to check your Windows Edition is hold the 'Windows' key and press the 'Pause Break' key. Instant view of the edition you own and any pack installed. God bless!

I have followed your guide...

I have followed your guide... That was great, but... When i try to apply a theme, it just go over to at theme, that looks like Windows Classic... Example: I try to apply a theme called UltimateDark... But when i do that the theme looks like Windows Classic... No matter what theme i try, it do the same... Can you help me..?

******ive got the sme problem as thiiis person..... can u help please :S ******

Vista Issues

For those whose visual style reverts to Windows Classic, this link might be able to give you some background:
http://www.codegazer.com/2007/12/01/microsoft-patch-kb933928/

Still can't

When I click the Colors and Appearances button, all it comes out is the Appearance Settings prompt box but there is no Windows Aero or Basic.

Please help. Oh, I was able to reach the window with the changing of the colors box but now I can't. I'm not sure why. The last time I could do it was somewhere in December 2008

problema cu aero

Salut ! Din cata am vazut cel care a postat acest tutorial este roman ....as dori sa-ti pun si eu cateva intrebari George ..am windows Vista Home Basic si am incercat tutorialul tau ...tema p care am downladato din acel site merge ...dar efectul aero nu ....poti sa imi trimiti si mie p mail sau sa-mi explici cum sa fac rost de acel " transparency " de la fisiere caci nu pot da de el + ca nu am nici acel Switch between windows . Multumesc !

Aero nu exista pe Home Basic

Aero nu exista pe Home Basic. Iti trebuie Home Premium pt Aero.

HELP

I cant install vista desk hack i click on it and it says" the publisher could not be verified are you shure you want to run this software" and i click run and its says press eny key to continue and i press a key and it does nothing. IF YOU KNOW HOW TO FIX PLEASE HELP

Hey, thanks alot.. great job

Hey, thanks alot.. great job really woorked!!! appreciate it

What Did I Do Wrong?

Hey, I just did this tutorial, and I must say, I'm really pissed.
Either I screwed up, or this doesn't work, because when I did it I was unable to get on my computer any more. It gave me two options: Run normally, or Repair. I tried to run it normally, it just restarted and brought me back to where I was. When I tried to repair it, it gave me the blue screen.
So my best computer that I have no longer works. I will either have to reinstall Vista, or I will have to call tech support and work out a different solution from there.

If any of you have doubts, or don't know what you're doing, don't do it.

System Restore

Run System Restore and restore your system to a previous state. Also, before trying again make sure you read all details. If you miss any of the steps it will fail for sure.

thanks

Hey thanks u r the best tescher taught me how to apply vista themes
thanks.....
its really workinggggggggggggggg
this is the best site and aurthorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
oi sennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn yet
Thanks buddy

PROBLEM!!!!

I have followed your guide... That was great, but... When i try to apply a theme, it just go over to at theme, that looks like Windows Classic... Example: I try to apply a theme called UltimateDark... But when i do that the theme looks like Windows Classic... No matter what theme i try, it do the same... Can you help me..?

the same problem as him !!

why did that hapenned and whats the solution ??

Theme file

When I downloaded my theme, I have everything except the theme file, it has its theme name but doesnt have the extension "theme."
Also with the other file that has the theme name and extension ".msstyles"
I have that but it does not show the right icon for it, it just has a blank icon and I have to pick a program if
i want to open it but im not sure which one.
This happens with all the theme I am trying, none succeeded.
What am I doing wrong?

help please

i went to the deviantart website that you mentioned, and when i download any theme, it downloads it as a .rar file. not a compressed file... any help?

7 zip

Any file archiver such as 7 zip can help you unpack this archive and extract its content.

easier way

use tune up utility styler..
much more easier and safer

Please the themes are not

Please the themes are not changing my start menu. Can someone help me? Thanks.

Hi, I installed the

Hi, I installed the vistaGlazz and when i started the program it crashes, i tried to reistall it like 10 times but its same thing.. please help me!!!
i even tried enhancemyvista but that one had same exact problem..

hmm.. i can't use the theme..

hmm.. i can't use the theme.. i followed all the intsructions but, apply it?! doesnt work!!! can't wait to have my vista pimped!! help me about this. please

Windows Vista

Does it work with Service Pack 2 (SP2) if it does can you tell me right away i have difficulty searching a way to change my theme Help!

HELP!

I followed the steps but when I tried the second step to patch the style I got this message " An error has occurred. An unhandled application error has occurred: Cannot stop Theme service on computer '.'. " I ran the diagnostic but that did nothing. What should I do?

Hi, i have some issues parting from

Installing a new theme

I installed VistaGlazz 2.3 and others, i don't have SP1 i have SP2 and i've been reading a lot and no one mentions anything about SP2 i have Windows Vista Ultimate OS installed on my PC, so far i've been doing as it says : (The first change that you should see is that the taskbar and titlebar are now transparent even if a window is maximized). DONE
but i was trying to do as follows but when i download the Aero Dynamic theme, it cannot be used, i double click the file which appears totally blank just like a paper, and opens a new window that says, Windows cannot open this file you need to select which program should do it, among this if you click select program there's a list of programs such as WMP iTunes etc. sorry if i misspell english isn't my primary language.
Plus i don't know where to download the program on the picture that follows. (In order to install it, click on the 'Download' button from the left and save the file on your disk.) I don't even know where that it's cause when i click Aero Dynamic it opens a web page from deviantart.com to download the Aero theme. I download the Mac OS X theme, contains severals folders. Dionisos riding leopard etc etc each contains the en-US and shell files. so am stuck here. pls pls pls HELP ME! i need it, BIG TIME!

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