Windows has had support for themes, also known as “visual styles”, since Windows XP. By default, Windows will only load Microsoft-signed themes—but you can get around this fairly easily.
There’s a thriving community of theme-builders who are still creating themes for Windows 7 and 8. These aren’t your standard Windows themes, though—they modify the appearance of window title bars, buttons, and other visual elements.
Windows checks if themes are signed by Microsoft before loading them. If they aren’t, Windows won’t load them at all. To use them, you’ll have to modify Windows system files—uxtheme.dll in particular—and disable the check. In the past, this required booting into Safe Mode and manually replacing system files. Today, there are easier ways to do this.
UxStyle is the ideal solution for Windows 7 users (it no longer works with Windows 10, so if you’re on the latest and greatest, see UltraUXThemePatcher below for an alternative). UxStyle runs entirely in memory, disabling the check without modifying any system files. It’s the easiest, safest way to enable third-party themes. To use UxStyle, download it, extract the .zip file, and run the x64 installer (if you’re using a 64-bit version of Windows) or the x86 one (if you’re using a 32-bit version of Windows). After installation, a new process named “UnsignedThemesSvc.exe” will run in the background. Reboot your computer and you’ll be able to install unsigned themes.
UltraUXThemePatcher is an easy-to-use application that modifies uxtheme.dll for you. It supports all the versions of Windows you’d want to do this on—both 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows 10, 8, 7, Server 2008, Vista, Server 2003, and XP. All you have to do is download the application, run it, and reboot your computer when prompted—you’ll now be able to install third-party themes.Read More...
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