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This guide is part of the Windows Desktop Theme Customization Series. If you want to learn how to install Themes in your version of Windows or want to locate some new themes, head here. If you’d like to keep up with this series and other articles from this site, subscribe here.

Note: Please create a create a restore point before patching system files. Many themes only work on a specific operating system, architeture, and service pack. i.e. Vista SP2 x86. Please read the instructions for each theme very carefully.

Installing desktop themes on your Windows XP machine takes just a few minutes . Learn, in this guide, how to patch system files and install themes.

Patch Your System Files to Install Themes

To install a theme, do the following:

  1. Create a system restore point to protect you from any mistakes.
  2. Download themes from the Windows Desktop Theme Customization Series page.
  3. Download UXTheme MultiPatcher for Windows XP.
  4. Extract the download, run the executable, and click Patch.Install Themes in Windows XP 1
  5. Double check the program detected the right Operating System (Microsoft Windows XP) and service pack and click OK. Note: if the operating system does not match, click cancel. Chances are you’ve already installed themes or you’ve changed core system files (and you should already know you’ve done this.)
    Install Themes in Windows XP 2
  6. System files will now be patched.
    Install Themes in Windows XP 3
  7. When prompted to insert the XP CD, click Cancel.
    Install Themes in Windows XP 4
  8. Click Yes.
    Install Themes in Windows XP 5
  9. Click OK to restart your computer and apply changes.
    Install Themes in Windows XP 6

Install a Desktop Theme in Windows XP

All themes are different, but following these instructions will work with most themes:

  1. .theme files are placed in %systemroot%\Resources\Themes
  2. .msstyles are stored in subfolders in the themes directory (i.e. MyTheme.msstyles is stored in %systemroot%\Resources\Themes\MyTheme – The folder name must match the name of the msstyles file and be in the same case)
  3. Folders like en-US and Shell are also stored in %systemroot%\Resources\Themes\MyTheme

This guide is part of the Windows Desktop Theme Customization Series. If you want to learn how to install Themes in your version of Windows or want to locate some new themes, head here. If you’d like to keep up with this series and other articles from this site, subscribe here.



About Rich

Rich is the owner and creator of Windows Guides; he spends his time breaking things on his PC so he can write how-to guides to fix the problems he creates.

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Comments

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  • Pratit Patel

    I have download UXTheme MultiPatcher and tried to install it but it’s give me error message as –> ” It appeared that uxthem.dll patching doesn’t support this operating system. If you’re sure that you are not using any beta service pack or beta operating system, please contact me.”

    But I am using Windows XP Service Pack 2, and it’s not a beta version. Please help.

  • Pratit Patel

    I have download UXTheme MultiPatcher and tried to install it but it’s give me error message as –> ” It appeared that uxthem.dll patching doesn’t support this operating system. If you’re sure that you are not using any beta service pack or beta operating system, please contact me.”

    But I am using Windows XP Service Pack 2, and it’s not a beta version. Please help.

  • Rich

    Are you running 64 bit?

  • Rich

    Are you running 64 bit?

  • Sandy

    Hi Rich:  I need to install a custom desktop screen (picture of our just deceased Mom). What size and format should it be. And where do I put it so it gets picked up?
    Thank you so much for your help.
    sandy@sandiegogems.com

  • Raghav

    Hi ,i downloaded the file UXTheme Multi-Patcher 8.0. And when i opened it the patch option isn’t highlighted. myne is xp service pack 3 .pls hlp me


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