Themes. Rawr. 11 replies

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Guyver Advanced Member

Dark System LordResiding In Insanity

41,090 XP

10th November 2004

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#11 14 years ago

The UXTheme patcher is definatly a good way to go especially if your looking for something free and cool. Another way that I decided to go with on my desktop PC was using Aston which is free for 30 days. Since I liked it I purchased the license for it and now I can use it unrestricted. The themes that I've found for Aston so far have been really cool and they allow lots of additional things to be done that the UXTheme patcher doesn't allow for.


my name sucks....

50 XP

15th July 2005

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#12 14 years ago

I have all all your solution right here;

Ok so you really don't want to use a program in order change you windows visual style cause your gonna have to buy it after like friggin 30 days and slows down your computer. So inorder to not use a program in order to change your visual style just follow these intructions. This takes no time at all by the way. Btw the color of the start bad and the frame and everything is called the visual style the theme includes the wallpaper, logon screen, screen save, visual style and icons. In order to use unsigned themes and visual styles on Windows XP, you have to patch or replace a file named uxtheme.dll on your computer. This file is what controls the new visual styles in XP. In most cases third-party theme managers or the free Multi-Patcher have no problem patching your uxtheme.dll file.

But what do you do when these programs give you an error saying they can't patch your uxtheme.dll file? Or even after installing the program you still can't load themes and styles? Here's how to replace your uxtheme.dll file manually.

  1. Ensure that you do not have the Windows XP installation CD in your cdrom drive.

  1. First, open Windows Explorer and go to Tools --> Folder Options --> View (tab). Put a check mark beside: "Show hidden files and folders" Then un-check: "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)" Click Apply and Okay and close Windows Explorer.

  1. Next, click Start --> Search --> All files and folders (button). Click the little plus symbol beside "More advanced options" and put a check mark beside"Search hidden files and folders". The first three items should now be checked. Scroll up and type uxtheme.dl_ in the "All or part of the file name" box and click Search. Wait for the search to finish. When it's done, rename ALL uxtheme.dl_ files to _uxtheme.dl_. Don't worry. These are just backup files.

  1. When done go Back in the Search screen and this time search for uxtheme.dll. Rename ALL to uxtheme.bak (any extension - doesn't matter).

  1. Next, download the pre-patched uxtheme.dll file for you system. Pre-patched uxtheme.dll files for SP2 can be found at or using the direct download links below:

Many thanks to Rafael Rivera and the many contributors for creating and making these available! You'll need WinRAR to extract these files. See the Notes below for how to check your version of Windows.

  1. UnRar and extract the uxtheme.dll file you downloaded into c:\windows\system32. Within a few seconds of copying the file, you should get a pop-up window titled "Windows File Protection":

Click the OK button. You should then see a second Windows File Protection pop-up window asking you to insert your SP2 CD:

Click the Cancel button. You'll then get a third pop-up window asking you if you are sure you want to keep the unrecognized file:

Click Yes. Wait for it... You'll probably then get yet another pop-up window asking for the SP2 Cd again. At this point ignore the pop-up and REBOOT.

If you don't these see pop-ups immediately upon copying the downloaded uxtheme.dll file into c:\windows\system32, go back to step 2. There's still a backup copy somewhere you missed. When your computer restarts, you'll get (you guessed it), another pop-up window saying that your uxtheme.dll file is either unsupported or is patched. Just close the window. You won't see it again.

That's it! You have successfully replaced your uxtheme.dll file with the patched version and should now be able to load up unsigned XP themes and visual styles.


Make sure that you download the right uxtheme.dll file for your system. To check your exact Windows version, go to Start --> All Programs --> Accessories --> System Tools --> System Information. On the System Summary page (the first page shown), look at the line that reads "Hardware Abstraction Layer". It should say something like Version = "5.1.2600.2180 (xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158)":

The last four number (.2180 in this example) must match the version of the pre-patched uxtheme.dll file you download. To check the file version, right-click the uxtheme.dll file you downloaded and go to Properties --> Version (tab):

The File Version of the file should match the version listed beside Hardware Abstraction Layer in System Information. Language can be confirmed here also.

If the file version does not match that of your system, don't copy the file into your system32 folder. It won't work.

Why all this trouble?

uxtheme.dll is a protected operating system file. As such, Windows keeps several copies of uxtheme.dll, plus compressed uxtheme.dl_ files at various locations on your system as backups. If it senses that uxtheme.dll has been replaced with a different version, it will immediately overwrite the changed version with one of it's backup copies. This is why it is necessary to find and rename all copies of uxtheme.dll and uxtheme.dl_ everywhere on your system. Generally speaking, there are only a handfull of places these backup copes are stored:

  • The Windows XP installation CD.

  • The Windows XP Service Pack 2 CD.

  • A Windows XP installation folder on your hard drive (HP, Compaq and Dell computers are bad for this - if your system came with a 'Recovery CD' and not an actual 'Windows XP' installation CD, the XP installation files are somewhere on your hard drive, on an additional hard drive or on a parition. Will be in a ~/i386 folder somewhere on your system).

  • C:\Windows\System32

  • C:\Windows\System32\dllcache

  • C:\Windows\System32\LastGood (if exists)

  • C:\Windows\ServicePackFiles\i386

If just one uxtheme.dll or uxtheme.dl_ exists in any of these locations, Windows will find it. That is why it is necessary to find ALL copies and backups of this file and rename them so Windows can't find them to overwrite your patched copy. The reason you want to rename them is so that you can move them back if you ever have to re-install Windows or SP3 comes out. Windows should still run without a uxtheme.dll file. You'll just be limited to the Windows Classic desktop. Note: The downloaded uxtheme.dll that works for XP SP2 and me specifically is stored in Drive C: Program Files UXTheme.dll

After you've done all that all you have to do is get visual styles off of websites like and drag and drop them into your windows/resources/themes folder and then double click to get them working. Btw DO NOT DO NOT delete the default visual styles like the windows 98 one and the windows luna one. Have fun, hope i helped.

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