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Windows XP Theme Manager


Question:
I can't find a theme manger for Windows XP. How can I load these themes without a theme manager?


Answer:
Actually, Windows XP does have a built in default desktop theme manager but it's a DLL used as a program so it's not something you can easily open and manage themes with manually. Microsoft is getting really tricky with us. However, there is a way to activate the theme manager. You only need to install a theme and open the main theme (*.theme) file to activate the default XP Desktop Theme Manager automatically. For compatibility purposes, you should create a directory under the older default standards (not the ones created by Windows XP) as the themes will still work fine on Windows XP as well. Here's how it works.

  1. First, make sure you have the proper path for desktop themes on your Windows XP operating system. The path should be 'C:\Program Files\Plus!\Themes\'. If you do not have that path in Windows XP, create it by adding the proper folders accordingly.

  2. Next, download any theme that is marked as "XP Compatible" to your local hard drive. (You can try your luck with other themes later.)

  3. The files are normally in a zip file, which you will need to extract to access the file contents. (In Windows XP, you can view the contents of a zip but it's better to extract the files first.) Extract the files according to the author's readme.txt file. This should be in a subdirectory to match the title of the theme within the default themes directory. Example: "C:\Program Files\Plus!\Themes\NEWTHEME\"

  4. Note that the main theme (*.theme) file should reside in the root of the themes directory. Example... "C:\Program Files\Plus!\Themes\*.theme"

  5. Double-click on the main theme (*.theme) file to execute the Windows XP default desktop theme manager and apply theme settings.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: If you get an error, it means something is not in the correct location to match the code in the main theme file. Just remember to install these themes as you would on any older version of Windows as well. The same rules apply.

  6. Finally, create a shortcut to the root theme directory on your desktop for quick future access.

Now download and install any XP Compatible theme you can find. Most are compatible. Just keep that directory path and file reference information in mind when installing your themes. It's tricky but worth the effort if you really want to change the look of your Windows XP desktop.

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