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Medievil

Customizing XP

73 posts in this topic

All tested on XP SP1 and SP2 (only the modified system file packages might not work...)

Tired off the default boring XP desktop?

Visual Styles

First thing we want to change is the visual style, a visual is what you see, the default Blue colors for example, a visual style basicly overlays everything with nicer buttons, colors and borders

A visual style is basicly a file with visual aspects that windows needs

Its located at C:\\Windows\Rescources\Themes\Name of theme

In That folder is a file located with the extension .msstyles, it has all the images from the borders colors etc inside,

In most cases there is also a Folder called Shell inside

This folder contains the shellstyle

The shellstyle is responsible for this

shellstyle.jpg

The common tasks sidebar in Windows explorer

Now, how can we skin all this?

Well, The XP skinning engine has a sort of protection inside off it, XP styles have a digital signature inside Which a file called Uxtheme.dll checks, without this digital Signature, windows wont accept the visual style,

There are differend ways around it

StyleXP

--> This program loads up with windows and replaces The uxtheme.dll in the memory so styles without signature will work.

XP autopatcher

--> this little program basicly replaces the uxtheme.dll with a patched one, this is best way in my opinion as there is no ram or disk space wasted

Its recommend using this program in safe mode though

--> that one isnt updated to XP SP2 yet so get a new sp2 version Here

Windowblinds

--> This program basicly adds a new skinning engine with more options to customize XP,

i recommend using one of the above programs first though.

Heres how you get themes to work:

Put the folder with the name of the visual style in windows/rescources/themes folder and click on the msstyle file, the windows theme manager will load up, just click apply or ok and the style will load!

Where to get visual styles!

ThemeXP

This site has a lot of visual styles, but they have spyware inside them!

there is a way around it though, extract the installers with winzip!

DeviantART

--> No spyware on this one, has awesome visual styles!

Wincustomize

--> has excellent skins for WindowBlinds

Making Visual Styles yourself!

Why not, once you start using visual styles, why not making visual styles yourself?

a few programs to do this:

Stylebuilder

--> the best program to make visual styles in my opinion!

In case you are using WindowBlinds, use:

Skinstudio

--> it is able to convert msstyle themes to windowblinds format.

Last thing about this: some older programs dont have skinning support and they have the old style buttons, you can patch that programs though!

xp skins

Icons

icons.gif

What about changing the default XP icons, there are lots better ones on the net

There are 2 differend ways changing the icons!

1. changing them in the XP system files with reshacker, more on this later...

2. Using a program to change them, a few programs are listed below

Iconpackager

--> nice program, loads of icons out for this one

Icon packages are availible at www.wincustomize.org

BeeIcons

--> i use this one myself, pretty good :)

DcolorXP

--> this ap doesnt really change icons, but allows you to you tiled icons on the desktop!

Iconphile

--> very light and fast program!

Bootscreen

Another good idea to customize xp is changing the bootscreen, the defeauld look is pretty boring, so we gonna do something about it!

How you can make it look like:

bootscreen.jpg

--> Instructions, copied this from themexp.org, why write it all down if someone else allready did it?

  1.  In Explorer, browse to C:\Windows\System32 and find the file named "ntoskrnl.exe".

  2. Copy "ntoskrnl.exe" to "ntoskrnl.exe.bak", (COPY not RENAME). This way if anything goes wrong...you will have a backup.

  3. Extract the files inside the .zip file you downloaded to a temporary location of your hard drive, but NOT to C:\Windows\System32.

  4. Reboot your computer into Safe Mode (hit F8 before the boot screen appears) or into true DOS mode (from a boot disk)

  5. Browse to where you extracted the files for your new boot screen in Explorer and select the correct file to copy to C:\Windows\System32. If you have SP1 for Windows XP installed use ntoskrnlsp.exe, otherwise use ntoskrnl.exe. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO USE THE CORRECT FILE, OR YOUR SYSTEM WILL LOCK UP ON BOOT.

  6. If using ntoskrnl.exe, copy the file to C:\Windows\System32 overwriting the existing ntoskrnl.exe, (which should have been backed up).

  7. If you are going to use ntoskrnlsp.exe, delete ntoskrnl.exe in the temporary folder and rename ntoskrnlsp.exe to ntoskrnl.exe. Then copy the file to C:\Windows\System32 overwriting the existing ntoskrnl.exe, (which should have been backed up).

  8. All done! Reboot your computer as you normally would and enjoy your new boot screen.

If you dont like doing this all manually, feel free to use one of the programs listed below!

Loginuibootoptimizer

**ALLWAYS MAKE A BACKUP OF NTOSKRNL.EXE

Or this program that actually doesnt alter any files! it just changes the patch to it

Bootskin

--> Themes availible at www.wincustomize.org

Login Screens

Changing the login screen is also a nice trick!

logon.jpg

Steps:

  1.  In Explorer, browse to C:\Windows\System32 and find the file named "logonui.exe".

  2. Rename "logonui.exe" to "logonui.exe.bak". This way if anything messes up...you have a backup.

  3. Place your new login in C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 and rename it to logonui.exe.

  4. That's it! Now when you log off your new login screen will be there.

Also a few programs can change the login screen for you!

Logon Loader

--> nice program if you done like changing everything manually!

LogonStudio

AGAIN, ALLWAYS MAKE A BACKUP OF LOGONUI.EXE, if anything goes rwong you can replace the file again in safe mode!

Add Objects to your desktop

Objects are basicly things you put on the desktop, with the weather on it, ur system speed etc,

Here is a example:

samurize.jpg

What aps do we need?

Samurize

--> This one has the most docklets availible and works very smooth!

Avedesk

--> This one adds widgets to your desktop

Kapsules

--> This one is what i use, i find it better then Samurize, there only arent much Whigets out there for it....

Here are some screenshots

DesktopX

--> This one also adds widgets and is able to enhanced your icons icons

Themes are availible at www.wincustomize.org

objects.jpg

Docks

Whats a dock?

Its a dock like the one availible in Mac osX, its basicly a taslbar replacement:

dock.jpg

There are differend docks out there for windows, here are a few free ones

[]Y'z dock[/url]

--> Link removed cause _R2D2 noticed it was against the rules! we dont want to be a bad boy and ignore the rules do we

Objectdock

--> one of the best docks availible, its still in developement and runs pretty good,

new docklets can be found at www.wincustomize.org

Mobydock

--> Tried this one once, but it looks much differend then the mac dock...

Sidebar

Another nice thing to enhance your desktop is a sidebar!

There are several sidebars out there, here are a few:

SmartbarXP

--> this one basicly looks the most like the longhorn one! its only still in beta stage, so you can experience some problems!

Codename dashboard

--> Another great sidebar is codename dashboard! i didnt find it look so good, but tastes are differend!

Desktop Sidebar

--> This one is very flexible! i use it myself, but offcourse i dont know what sidebar you like so its up to you which on to pick!

smartbarxp.jpg

Resourcehacker

What about changing like every icon thats in windows?

Its possible

rograms we need for this:

Resource Hacker

ResEdit

tip: Most windows icons are located in Shell32.dll!!

There are also a lot off Packages availible with files that are hacked allready, install them at your own risk.

Longhorn Transformation pack

Screenshot

Mac Trasnformation pack

--> this one is just excellent!

Screenshots are on that site

Shell

A differend shell is basicly a replacement for the explorer Desktop and Startmenu

it does not replace the filemanager on XP!

There are many shell's out there, and what you want to use is really your own choise!

Litestep

--> This one is very easy to use, i recommend this one if its the first time you try a differend shell!

Aston shell

Geoshell

Here's a example of a litestep theme

litestep.jpg

Other stuff

We shoudl have a better looking windows now!, still there are a lot of progs out there that improves visual stuff on windows

Cursor XP

--> Very good program, improves the look of the XP cursor

theme_select.png

WindowFX

--> replaces the animation of windows

allows to fading in and out of windows, morphing into the taskbar, like everything you want, this is one of my favourite progs!

Y'z toolbar

--> this prog allows you to easily change the Windows toolbar icons!

yztoolbar.jpg

TClock Light

--> allows you to change the start button, and changes the clock, great little tool

tclocklight.png

Rainlender

--> this one adds a nice calender to the desktop!

post-107-1092162244.jpg

ZMatrix

--> ZMatrix is an animated desktop background which displays streaming characters in a style similar to what was used in the movie 'The Matrix'. The program was based off of source code for a screen saver found at www.elouai.com, and is entirely free.

A example of what you can get!

desktop.jpg

desktop2.jpg

desktop3.jpg

desktop4.jpg

Srry some screeny's from the post your desktop thread, i had desktops like that, but i'm on a pc with win2k right now... :ninja:

Edited by Medievil

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very nice guide!

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thx, if anyone has any good links or software feel free to tell me!

my goal is to make the user choose how they want windows, not forcing them to make it look like something :)

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Does the neowin uxtheme.dll works on SP2?

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Does the neowin uxtheme.dll works on SP2?

Didn't work for me. :(

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the more i see people appreciate and try to expand customizing

the happier i get :D!

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Yo the boot screen editor link is down!

But this guide is excellent man hope you keep updating it and adding facts so far i seen so much on the net but not a guide together

Future suggestions: Msn messnger skinning guide, Stylebuilder guide,Shellstyle.dll guide, Shell32 editing guide, other file mods using resource hacker

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Yo the boot screen editor link is down!

But this guide is excellent man hope you keep updating it and adding facts so far i seen so much on the net but not a guide together

Future suggestions: Msn messnger skinning guide, Stylebuilder guide,Shellstyle.dll guide, Shell32 editing guide, other file mods using resource hacker

heh basically just put a link to virtualplastic.net and wintweaker.net

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Yo the boot screen editor link is down!

But this guide is excellent man hope you keep updating it and adding facts so far i seen so much on the net but not a guide together

Future suggestions: Msn messnger skinning guide, Stylebuilder guide,Shellstyle.dll guide, Shell32 editing guide, other file mods using resource hacker

might consider it, except msn messenger

i'm not going to make a guide for every program there is m8 ;)

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Man that is going to take time, new idea add info on how to customise shutdown buttons

its not like virtaual plastic it is better gets straight to the point

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Don't forget Rainlendar (customizable calendar that doesn't use much system resources or take much space on your desktop) & Shortcuts/Folders without Text. (no Alt+255, no text selection) :D

post-107-1092162244.jpg

Edited by Herby

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I would've also included in the guide that it is possible to replace the shell32.dll file as well with others foudn on the web. I have used a few in the past myself such as the popular GANT shell32. And replacer is a nice little app to add to the list. Other than that, it is a very nice and thorough guide! Good job! (Y)

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how do i mod the classic start menu...i don't remember how to get to the group policy editor :cry: lol

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awesome (Y)

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:D This is awesome, thanks for Your work.

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Nice guide .. what's that logon screen called?

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Wow man....wat a guide shall give it a try for sure :D

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oh and maybe a little suggestion,

move it to the customization forum, i still see many threads poppin up asking for good customization tools, or how to install theme's etc.. as most ppl dont look in the guide section :blush:

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