How To Customize Desktop Themes In Windows 7 & Windows 8.1

PersonalizationWindows is a versatile operating system when it comes to customizing the way it looks. You can easily change lots of visual aspects like the desktop backgrounds used by your theme, the sounds played when different events happen, the colors used for displaying windows on the screen as well as their transparency level, the screensaver and so on. While all these can be changed individually, you might prefer to select a new theme and change everything. Windows themes include some or all of the above personalization aspects packaged together in one file that you can install with a single click. Here's how to customize any theme in Windows:

How To Find The Available Windows Themes

Start by opening the Personalization panel. To do that, right click or tap and hold on the Desktop and choose Personalize.

Customize,  Themes, Windows, Background, Screensaver, Sound, Mouse cursor

The "long way" to do it is to use the Control Panel and go to Appearance and Personalization -> Personalization.

Customize,  Themes, Windows, Background, Screensaver, Sound, Mouse cursor

And a third way to open the Personalization panel is to search for it. In Windows 7, open the Start Menu, write "personalization" in its search box and click the appropriate result.

Customize,  Themes, Windows, Background, Screensaver, Sound, Mouse cursor

If you are using Windows 8.1, go to the Start screen and write "personalization". Then, click or tap on "Personalization" or "Personalize your computer".

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What Will You Find In The Personalization Panel

Inside the Personalization panel, you'll find all the themes installed on your device. They are divided into three sections:

  • My Themes – contains all the themes that were installed, created or modified by you.
  • Windows Default Themes (in Windows 8.1) or Aero Themes (in Windows 7) – contains all the themes that are included in Windows by default.
  • High Contrast Themes (in Windows 8.1) or Basic and High Contrast Themes (in Windows 7) - a set of themes that use high contrast colors and do not contain any transparency features. If you're using Windows 7, you also get a "Windows 7 Basic" and a "Windows Classic" theme. The "Windows 7 Basic" theme is the same as the default "Windows 7" theme, but with no Aero effects. The "Windows Classic" theme has no Aero effects and uses no visual styles, making your desktop look similar to Windows XP.

What Can Be Customized In A Windows Theme

There are four aspects of a theme that you can personalize. You will find all of them at the bottom of the Personalization panel: Desktop Background, Color, Sounds and Screen Saver.

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How To Customize Your Desktop Backgrounds

You can read everything there is to know about desktop backgrounds and how to customize them in this guide: How to Customize the Desktop Background in Windows 7 & Windows 8.

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How To Set The Color Used By Windows

Click or tap the Color button from the bottom of the Personalization panel. If you're on Windows 7, click the Window Color button.

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In the Color and Appearance window, you can change the color used by Windows for the taskbar and for displaying windows with a click or tap on any color.

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If you're using Window 8.1, you can also choose to let Windows automatically select the colors it uses, based on the dominant desktop background color. For example, if your current wallpaper is mostly red, Windows will automatically make the window borders and the taskbar red.

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If you're using Windows 7 you don't have the automatic color option. However, you get Aero effects that aren't available in Windows 8.1. Check or uncheck the Enable transparency option to enable or disable the transparency for window borders, the taskbar and the Start Menu.

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Next, you can change the intensity of the color you've selected.

Customize,  Themes, Windows, Background, Screensaver, Sound, Mouse cursor

If you want to create your own color, click or tap the "Show color mixer", found beneath the color intensity bar.

Customize,  Themes, Windows, Background, Screensaver, Sound, Mouse cursor

The color mixer allows you to choose the values of three color properties:

  • Hue - is the property of colors by which they can be perceived as ranging from red through yellow, green, and blue.
  • Saturation - is the vividness of a color's hue. Saturation measures the degree to which a color differs from a gray of the same darkness or lightness. The saturation of a color is determined by a combination of light intensity and how much it is distributed across the spectrum of different wavelengths. The purest color is achieved by using just one wavelength at a high intensity, such as in laser light. If the intensity drops, so does the saturation.
  • Brightness - can be defined as the visual effect of illumination on objects.

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Play a bit with these three properties to see what colors you get.

If you're using Windows 7, beneath the color mixer, you will also get the option to change more advanced aspects of windows colors and appearance.

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In the "Window Color and Appearance" window you have a deeper selection of colors and fonts, for items like the Active Title Bar, Active Window Border, Border Padding, Desktop, Disabled Item, Hyperlink, Pallet Title and others.

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For all the options found in this window, we've written a separate and extensive tutorial that covers all the available configuration options: The Geeky Way of Personalizing Windows Themes.

How To Change The Sound Scheme

Configuring the sound scheme can be a task which takes up quite some time, depending on what you want to do: change the current scheme with an existing one, modify only some sounds in an existing scheme or create a new sound scheme. We created a separate tutorial on this topic, which will help you in all scenarios: How To Customize the Sound Scheme Used on Your Computer.

How To Change The Mouse Cursors Used By Windows

If you want to change the mouse pointer scheme used by your current Windows theme, read this complete guide: How to Customize Mouse Cursors/Pointers in Windows 7 & Windows 8.

How To Set The Screen Saver

We have created a separate step by step guide that shows how to change the active screensaver, customize its functioning or disable it. You can find it here: How to Set & Customize the Screensavers in Windows 7 & Windows 8.

How To Save Or Delete Your Themes

After you have finished configuring a theme, don't forget to save it by clicking or tapping the Save theme option, in the Personalization window. Then, give it a name and press Save.

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If you want to delete a theme, you should keep in mind that you cannot delete an active theme. You have to apply another theme as the active one, then right click (or tap and hold) on the one that you want to delete, and select Delete Theme.

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Conclusion

As you've seen in this article, it's not that hard to customize or create your own Windows theme. You can create your own colors and sounds in order to get a theme that matches your preferences. Don't hesitate to use all the configuration options that we have shared in this article and create your own unique themes for Windows.