The introductory guide to customization.
First you need to collect your tools, Im going to recommend some of my favorite:
Resourcehacker: Your resource hacker (or modifier), your best friend here, url: http://www.users.on....resourcehacker/
Toolbar control: With this tool you can change easily the toolbar background bitmap and the Internet zones properties, very cool, url: http://www.virtualpl...l/down_app.html
Jasmin 3D Color changer: The best color modifier available, url: http://jotenet.ideal...ce.com/temp.asp
Color schemes for Jasmin 3D Color: http://f1.aaacafe.ne.jp/%7Epassage/ and http://www.skinnables.org/3dcc.php
Tclock light: The best program when you need to modify your taskbar, url: http://homepage1.nif...ight/index.html
Longhorn systray clock: longhorn systeray clock, url: http://www.neowin.ne...T&f=34&t=157465
Replacer: Replaces your system files, url:http://www3.telus.net/_/replacer/ it helps you to replace your system files
Windowblinds (This is optional for windows 2k systems): url: http://stardock.com
Now, you have all the necessary and basic tools to start your modification (ALL FREEWARE) , so lets start:
The first and the easiest part is to modify the files that control almost every piece of visual in the W2k box: explorer.exe located in x:\windows\ (x is your harddrive letter, also, take note that the windows dir can be winnt), shell32.dll located in x:\windows\system32\, and browseui.dll located in the same directory, copy these files into your reshack directory (COPY THEM, NOT CUT THEM).
To modify the files you need resourcehacker, open the files with reshack and start to browse the folders list, you can modify the icons, the bitmaps, even the menus and the text.
Once you finish your modding you need to save (IF YOU CHANGED AN SCRIPT THEN MAKE SURE THAT YOU PRESSED THE "COMPILE SCRIPT" BUTTON FIRST IN EVERY STRING), the program itself kindly make a copy of the original file first, if you screwed up the original.
Now, you need to replace the files, for that I use "Replacer", here is an explanation of the app, copied from its website:
Basically, Replacer works by using a combination of tools to successfully replace a protected system file, without disturbing the user. First, three files are extracted from the data file into a temporary folder: db.csv, Clear_WFP_Message.vbs, and zap.exe.
The CSV file contains a list of replaceable system files, along with their paths and attributes.
Clear_WFP_Message clears the Windows File Protection message that may pop up after replacing a file. Some anti-virus programs may incorrectly detect this as a malicious cript. Access to this file is not required, but it is recommended. After replacing, the script will continue to run for about 15 seconds, to ensure that it doesn't miss any late messages.
Zap.exe, a tool from Microsoft, forcefully deletes the system file. This may leave temporary files on the root of the drive (named _@??.tmp), which will be automatically deleted after rebooting.
Second, after the user inputs the files, a backup is created. It is stored in the same folder as the system file, with a "backup" extension (such as "notepad.backup"). Then, the replacement is copied to up to five directories which contain backups of the system file.
Finally, the VBScript is executed to clear any messages, and the system file is replaced. If Replacer is closed properly (following the on-screen instructions), the temp folder that it uses will be automatically deleted. Otherwise, manually delete the folder called ".ReplacerTemp" in Replacer's folder.
If you are experiencing constant errors, or are running Windows 2000, you may need to download the components package. In most cases, this is not required.
Tested, but use at your own risk.
There is a lot of tricks to modify your system files to a certain degree, so Im just going to post a couple of links that will help you to succed with this:
For system files locationes there a very good list here:
In there you can find what file do what in your system.
Thats the end of the reshacker tutorial, lets go to the rest of the tools:
Toolbar: Great tool by beaker (member of the virtualplastic.net crew), very easy to use, just select what do you want to modify, select your bitmap, click apply and restart the explorer.
Jasmin 3D: very friendly, its like the default color manager in windows, but his allows you to change every little pixel in the colors, just open the app and start modding or simply open a Scheme file (.3dc).
Tclock light: This have a lot of options, but is very easy to use, so this doesnt need a tutorial, just run it, then your clock change, right click on the clock and select tclock2 properties, have fun.
Longhorn systray clock: An utility based on tclock light that haves the basic functionality of tclock light and also it lets you cutomize your clock to make it looks like the longhorn one (note, dont try to run this app with any tclock version)
Windowblinds: a great system skinner, if you do some research you can find awesome minimalistic skins, like the ones made by essorant: http://www.essorant.com/
Here's an example of what you can do with a little work:
Windows 2000 (ss1, with windowblinds)
Windows 2000 (ss2, just heavily modified)