How do I download and install "Themes" in Windows?

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on December 18, 2000


How do I go about downloading and installing new desktop themes in Windows?



This question was answered on December 18, 2000. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

Microsoft allows users to customize various items throughout the Windows interface including the colors, sounds, folder types, icons, wall paper, screen savers and mouse pointers just to name a few An easy way to change all of the items at once is to use “themes” These themes are included in most standard installations of Windows 98 or higher or if you installed the Plus! pack in Windows 95

Users that are experiencing slow performance or having resource issues should not add to Windows’ workload by adding and running new themes The “Windows default” theme will impact performance the least for those users Fancy icons and wallpaper can rob Windows of valuable resources, so don’t get too carried away!

To check to see which themes are currently installed, click on Start, Settings, Control Panel, then double-click the Desktop Themes icon Click on the Themes: drop down bar at the top to see the currently installed themes.

If you don’t see an icon for desktop themes in your Control Panel, you either have an older version of Windows or they have not yet been installed If you have Windows 98 or higher and want to install the Desktop Themes, click on the Add/Remove Programs icon in the Control Panel, then on the Windows Setup tab at the top This will expose a list of options that can be added to Windows including the Desktop Themes Place a checkmark in the box for Desktop Themes then click on OK at the bottom of the window (You may be asked for your Windows 98 CD at this point.)

Themes are created by thousands of users throughout the Internet and are often posted as free downloads Virtually every affinity group from Trekkies to University alumni, every movie from The Matrix to The Grinch and every season of the year have had a theme created for it

There are generally two types of themes that are posted, self-installing or manually installed Self-installing themes are generally files that are “executable” or have the *.exe extension This means that once you download the theme, you simply double-click on the file to install the theme Manually installed themes generally have a *.zip extension and require you to extract the contents using a zip utility such as WinZip ( and then place them in the proper folder in Windows If you are a novice and don’t have a good working knowledge of directory structures and how to “unzip” files, stick to the self-installing type

If you are comfortable with the manual process, the default folder for Windows themes is C:\Program Files\Plus!\Themes If you extract zipped themes to this folder, they will generally be available when you browse your desktop theme choices.

Here is a list of sites that offer free desktop themes for downloading:

If you really have nothing better to do, you can actually use the Windows Task Manger to rotate themes automatically! You can activate this feature by clicking on the “Rotate theme monthly” box at the bottom right corner of the Desktop Themes window This will activate the Task Manager if you are not already using it and place an entry for Desktop Themes in the task list You can access the Task Manager by clicking on its icon in the Systray (bottom right corner, next to the clock) or by clicking on Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Scheduled Tasks.

Need Help with this Issue?

We help people with technology! It's what we do.
Contact or Schedule an Appointment with a location for help!


Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on December 18, 2000


Featured At: