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Choosing a Desktop Theme

Windows XP’s default appearance and colors aren’t to every taste, nor does Microsoft intend they should be. You can change them with a different desktop theme—a stored set of colors, icons, fonts, sounds, and other elements that help personalize your desktop and environment. Windows lets you pick a predefined theme or create your own.

To choose a theme:

1.
In Control Panel, choose Appearance and Themes > Display > Themes tab.

or

Right-click blank space on the desktop; then choose Properties > Themes tab.

2.
In the Theme list, select a new theme (Figure 4.19).

Figure 4.19. Each person with a user account can pick a distinct theme.


3.
Click OK (or Apply).

Tips

  • Microsoft includes only two themes on the Windows XP CD, but the popularity of XP means that gazillions of free themes are available on independent Web sites—some of which Microsoft promotes. Try www.themexp.org, for example.

  • Select the Windows Classic theme to restore the look of Windows 2000/98/Me.

  • The classic look of some windows (such as the command-prompt window) can’t be changed with themes.

  • The Windows XP section of www.microsoft.com also offers Microsoft Plus! for Windows XP—a $30 (U.S.) enrichment pack that contains themes, screen savers, games, and add-ins for Media Player.


Themes and Control Panel

You can tailor individual theme elements by changing Control Panel settings directly. The elements that you can change, with the relevant Control Panel items, are:

  • Background (Display > Desktop tab)

  • Desktop icons (Display > Desktop tab > Customize Desktop)

  • Windows and buttons (Display > Appearance tab)

  • Colors and fonts (Display > Appearance tab and Display > Appearance tab > Advanced)

  • Screen saver (Display > Screen Saver tab)

  • Mouse pointers (Mouse > Pointers tab)

  • Sounds (Sounds and Audio Devices > Sounds tab)


To create a custom theme:

1.
In Control Panel, choose Appearance and Themes > Display > Themes tab.

or

Right-click blank space on the desktop; then choose Properties > Themes tab.

2.
In the Theme list, select an existing theme as a starting point for creating a new one.

3.
Set the relevant Control Panel options to change the theme (Figures 4.20 and 4.21).

Figure 4.20. The Appearance tab lets you select the overall window and button style, color scheme, and font size.


Figure 4.21. Click Advanced on the Appearance tab to fine-tune the font and color of individual interface elements.


4.
When you’re finished making changes, click Apply on the Themes tab (refer to Figure 4.19).

5.
Click Save As; type a theme name; then click Save.

Windows saves the theme in the My Documents folder.

6.
In the Display Properties dialog box, click OK (or Apply).

Tips

  • If you modify a theme without saving it, Windows saves your changes with the name Previous-theme-name (Modified). Your modified theme is discarded if you select a different theme. If you modify a theme and save it, you must use a new theme name.

  • To populate the Theme list, Windows looks in the My Documents and \Windows\Resources\Themes folders. Click Browse on the Themes tab to open a theme located elsewhere.


To delete a custom theme:

1.
In Control Panel, choose Appearance and Themes > Display > Themes tab.

or

Right-click blank space on the desktop; then choose Properties > Themes tab.

2.
In the Theme list, select the theme that you want to delete; then click Delete.

Tip

  • You can delete only the themes that you created or installed, not the ones Windows provides.


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