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Choosing a Desktop Theme

If Windows’ default appearance and colors aren’t to your taste, you can change them with a different desktop theme—a stored set of colors, icons, fonts, sounds, and other elements that redecorate your desktop. You can pick a predefined theme or create your own.

To choose a theme

1.
Choose Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Themes > Display > Themes tab.

or

Right-click an empty area 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

  • Windows comes with only two themes, but many others are freely available. Try www.themexp.org, www.topthemes.com, and the Themes section of www.download.com. Movie and game sites have them too. For an extreme makeover, try WindowBlinds ($20 U.S.; www.windowblinds.net).

  • 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.

  • If you choose More Themes Online in Figure 4.19, you’re taken to Microsoft’s web site for a sales pitch for Microsoft Plus! ($30).


To create a custom theme

1.
Choose Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Themes > Display > Themes tab.

or

Right-click an empty area 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 your My Documents folder.

6.
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 your My Documents and \Windows\Resources\Themes folders. Click Browse on the Themes tab to open a theme located elsewhere. (\Windows is named \WINNT on some systems.)


To delete a custom theme

1.
Choose Start > Control Panel > Appearance and Themes > Display > Themes tab.

or

Right-click an empty area 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 that Windows provides.


Themes and Control Panel

You can tailor individual theme elements by changing Control Panel settings directly. The elements that you can change (with relevant Control Panel programs) 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)


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