Ok, so you have problems enabling custom themes (shell styles) in Windows 7? Here’s how to use the UxTheme Patcher and where you have to copy the theme files after downloading one of our many skins.

Using The Uxtheme Patcher And Copying Theme Files To Locations

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Step 1: Patching Theme DLL Files

There are exactly 3 files that you have to patch before you can enable custom themes:

  • themeservice.dll
  • themeui.dll
  • uxtheme.dll

In Windows XP and 2003 you only have to patch the uxtheme.dll – that’s why the tool is called uxtheme-patcher.

Patching Dll Files To Enable Custom Themes

IMPORTANT: Right-click on UniversalThemePatcher-x64.exe or x86.exe and click on Run as administrator


Step 2: Verify That Your UXTHEME Files Are Patched

An important step that many are missing is to verify that your files have been patched correctly. After patching the files and rebooting your system, start the UxTheme Patcher again and you should get something along the lines of this:

Verify That Uxtheme Dll Files Are Patches

Current OS is ready for 3rd party themes, no need to patch again. If you still can not use the 3rd party theme, please contact the developer of the theme

Step 3: The Difficult Part, Understanding The Anatomy Of Themes

What most beginners don’t immediately understand that on Windows 7 64-bit there is a 32-bit folder in C:\Windows called SysWOW64. Some custom themes will require you to put file there, but don’t just assume that, read the instructions of the theme that you downloaded to verify that.

The files that you have to replace to enable a custom theme are:

  • explorer.exe, explorerframe.exe, shell32.dll, imageres.dll, OobeFldr.dll

The actual theme files:

  • .theme
  • .msstyles (is the most important skinning file)

Once you’ve understood where the files belong you can get started. The files explorer.exe, explorerframe.exe go into your C:\Windows\System32 folder or into C:\Windows\SysWOW64 respectively in some cases


Step 4: Copy .theme file and folder that includes .msstyles + Shell into Resource folder

To enable custom themes, we obviously have to copy files as outlined above

Custom Theme Darksoft

As you can see on the example above, a lot of themes offer quite a lot of shell variations. Let’s say you want big icons, then copy:

  • Dark Soft little icons.theme
  • Dark Soft little icons (folder)

Into this:



Step 5: Copy system files into System32/SysWOW64

Finally, we are about to enable our themes. The last step is to copy the system files usually located in a folder called system files “e.g. Dark Soft system files” into the correct folders as outlined above


Windows 7 32-bit: Copy 32-bit (x86) system files into C:\Windows\system32
Windows 7 64-bit: Copy 64-bit (x64) system files into C:\Windows\system32 and 32-bit system files into C:\Windows\sysWOW64

Step 6: Enable Themes On Personalization Control Panel

The last step is obvious, go to the Personalization Control Panel and click on your shell themes. All custom themes will be listed under Installed Themes

Click on the theme that you installed e.g. Simplify (Simplify can be found on our list of 6 clean themes)

Enabling The Custom Theme Called Simplify Segoe Ui

Are you on Windows 7 Home Basic or Starter?

If you are running Home Basic and Starter, I’d like to refer you to this tool, installing themes on Basic or Starter has never been easier

Using Aero Themes On Windows 7 Basic Starter

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