I will continue our series about customizing the visual aspects of your Windows 7 with an article on how to customize your themes. Compared to previous versions of Windows, in Windows 7 you no longer have to hack your system to have it look the way you want to. Now you can easily customize lots of aspects such as: the desktop backgrounds used by a theme, the sound scheme, window color, transparency, screensaver, etc. Also, you can easily create your own themes, install new ones, without any technical knowledge of files that need to be hacked, etc.
Where to Find the Themes
First, open the Personalization Control Panel, by right clicking on the desktop and choose Personalize.
Now you will see a window with 3 panels:
- My Themes - contains the themes created or modified by you.
- Aero Themes - contains the Windows 7 predefined Aero themes, which are also the default themes.
- Basic and High Contrast Themes - a set of themes which do not contain the Aero specific features. They are similar to themes from Windows XP or Windows 2000 when it comes to looks.
Extra Features of Aero Themes
Windows Aero is about improving appearance, aesthetics and efficiency in the user interface. The most evident difference between the basic themes and the Aero ones is the transparency of the windows.
Other interesting differentiating elements are thumbnail previews of the applications and some extra features available when working with the taskbar: Aero Peek, overlay icons and progress bars, grouped thumbnails, etc. These are all presented in detail in one of our previous articles, called New Features & Improvements in the Windows 7 Taskbar.
What Can Be Personalized
There are 4 features of a theme that can be personalized and they are all found at the bottom of the Personalization window: the desktop background, which we covered in detail in our guide called How to Customize your Desktop Background, the window color, sounds scheme and screen saver.
How to Set the Theme's Window Color
To set the window color used by your current theme, click on the 'Window Color' button that can be found on lower part of the Personalization window.
There is a default color for each theme, which is shown in the 'Current color' field highlighted in the screenshot below.
You can change this color at any time by selecting from any of the preset colors. Also, you can enable or disable the transparency of windows by clicking on the 'Enable transparency' check-box.
You can change the color intensity by just moving the scroll in the 'Color intensity' bar.
You can also create your own color by clicking 'Show color mixer' under the color intensity bar.
The color mixer allows you to choose the value for 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.
Play a bit with these three properties to see what colors you get.
You can set more advanced aspects of the windows by clicking on the 'Advance appearance settings' link at the bottom of the window.
In the 'Window Color and Appearance' window you have a deeper selection of colors and fonts, for items like Active Title Bar, Active Window Border, Border Padding, Desktop, Disabled Item, Hyperlink, Pallet Title and others.
For all the options found in this window, we create a separate (and extensive) tutorial which covers all the configuration you can and cannot make: The Geeky Way of Personalizing Windows Themes.
When done, click OK to keep the changes you made.
How to Change the Theme's Sounds 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 an existing scheme or create a new one. Therefore we created a separate tutorial on this topic, which will help you in any scenario: How To Customize the Sound Scheme Used on Your Computer.
How to Change the Mouse Cursors
If you want to change the mouse pointer scheme used by your current Windows theme, check out this complete guide on the topic: How To Customize Mouse Cursors in Windows 7.
How to Set the Theme's Screen Saver
We have created a separate step by step guide, that shows how to use change the active screensaver, customize its functioning or even disable it. You can read 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 on the 'Save theme' option, in the Personalization window.
If you want to delete a theme, you should keep in mind that you cannot delete an active theme. Therefore you have to apply another theme, then right click on the one you want to delete, and select 'Delete Theme'.
As you can see from this article, it's easy to customize or create your own theme, Windows 7 allowing the user to change many aspects. You can create your own color and sound combinations and have a theme according to your desires. I invite you to play around with all the customization options and, share with us new and interesting themes you found online or you created yourselves.