All tested on XP SP1 and SP2 (only the modified system file packages might not work...)
Tired off the default boring XP desktop?
First thing we want to change is the visual style, a visual is what you see, the default Blue colors for example, a visual style basicly overlays everything with nicer buttons, colors and borders
A visual style is basicly a file with visual aspects that windows needs
Its located at C:\\Windows\Rescources\Themes\Name of theme
In That folder is a file located with the extension .msstyles, it has all the images from the borders colors etc inside,
In most cases there is also a Folder called Shell inside
This folder contains the shellstyle
The shellstyle is responsible for this
The common tasks sidebar in Windows explorer
Now, how can we skin all this?
Well, The XP skinning engine has a sort of protection inside off it, XP styles have a digital signature inside Which a file called Uxtheme.dll checks, without this digital Signature, windows wont accept the visual style,
There are differend ways around it
--> This program loads up with windows and replaces The uxtheme.dll in the memory so styles without signature will work.
--> this little program basicly replaces the uxtheme.dll with a patched one, this is best way in my opinion as there is no ram or disk space wasted
Its recommend using this program in safe mode though
--> that one isnt updated to XP SP2 yet so get a new sp2 version Here
--> This program basicly adds a new skinning engine with more options to customize XP,
i recommend using one of the above programs first though.
Heres how you get themes to work:
Put the folder with the name of the visual style in windows/rescources/themes folder and click on the msstyle file, the windows theme manager will load up, just click apply or ok and the style will load!
Where to get visual styles!
This site has a lot of visual styles, but they have spyware inside them!
there is a way around it though, extract the installers with winzip!
--> No spyware on this one, has awesome visual styles!
--> has excellent skins for WindowBlinds
Making Visual Styles yourself!
Why not, once you start using visual styles, why not making visual styles yourself?
a few programs to do this:
--> the best program to make visual styles in my opinion!
In case you are using WindowBlinds, use:
--> it is able to convert msstyle themes to windowblinds format.
Last thing about this: some older programs dont have skinning support and they have the old style buttons, you can patch that programs though!
What about changing the default XP icons, there are lots better ones on the net
There are 2 differend ways changing the icons!
1. changing them in the XP system files with reshacker, more on this later...
2. Using a program to change them, a few programs are listed below
--> nice program, loads of icons out for this one
Icon packages are availible at www.wincustomize.org
--> i use this one myself, pretty good
--> this ap doesnt really change icons, but allows you to you tiled icons on the desktop!
--> very light and fast program!
Another good idea to customize xp is changing the bootscreen, the defeauld look is pretty boring, so we gonna do something about it!
How you can make it look like:
--> Instructions, copied this from themexp.org, why write it all down if someone else allready did it?
If you dont like doing this all manually, feel free to use one of the programs listed below! 1. In Explorer, browse to C:\Windows\System32 and find the file named "ntoskrnl.exe".
2. Copy "ntoskrnl.exe" to "ntoskrnl.exe.bak", (COPY not RENAME). This way if anything goes wrong...you will have a backup.
3. Extract the files inside the .zip file you downloaded to a temporary location of your hard drive, but NOT to C:\Windows\System32.
4. Reboot your computer into Safe Mode (hit F8 before the boot screen appears) or into true DOS mode (from a boot disk)
5. Browse to where you extracted the files for your new boot screen in Explorer and select the correct file to copy to C:\Windows\System32. If you have SP1 for Windows XP installed use ntoskrnlsp.exe, otherwise use ntoskrnl.exe. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO USE THE CORRECT FILE, OR YOUR SYSTEM WILL LOCK UP ON BOOT.
6. If using ntoskrnl.exe, copy the file to C:\Windows\System32 overwriting the existing ntoskrnl.exe, (which should have been backed up).
7. If you are going to use ntoskrnlsp.exe, delete ntoskrnl.exe in the temporary folder and rename ntoskrnlsp.exe to ntoskrnl.exe. Then copy the file to C:\Windows\System32 overwriting the existing ntoskrnl.exe, (which should have been backed up).
8. All done! Reboot your computer as you normally would and enjoy your new boot screen.
**ALLWAYS MAKE A BACKUP OF NTOSKRNL.EXE
Or this program that actually doesnt alter any files! it just changes the patch to it
--> Themes availible at www.wincustomize.org
Changing the login screen is also a nice trick!
Also a few programs can change the login screen for you! 1. In Explorer, browse to C:\Windows\System32 and find the file named "logonui.exe".
2. Rename "logonui.exe" to "logonui.exe.bak". This way if anything messes up...you have a backup.
3. Place your new login in C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 and rename it to logonui.exe.
4. That's it! Now when you log off your new login screen will be there.
--> nice program if you done like changing everything manually!
AGAIN, ALLWAYS MAKE A BACKUP OF LOGONUI.EXE, if anything goes rwong you can replace the file again in safe mode!