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An Administrator's Guide to Customizing the Desktop and the User Interface for Windows 8

Working with Desktop Themes

Desktop themes are combinations of backgrounds plus sets of sounds, icons, and other elements that help personalize the desktop and the operating environment. Administrators tend to hate themes; users tend to love them. In this section, you’ll learn how to apply themes, how to tailor individual theme options, and how to delete themes.

Applying and Removing Themes

Several types of themes are available. Some themes are installed with the operating system. To apply a theme, follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold or right-click an open area of the desktop, and then tap or click Personalize. This opens the Personalization console in Control Panel, shown in Figure 3-4.

    Figure 3-4

    Figure 3-4. Use the Personalization console to access dialog boxes for configuring themes, display settings, and more.

  2. Use the theme list to select the theme you want to use. If you want to use a theme from the Microsoft website, tap or click Get More Themes Online to open the Microsoft website in your default browser. To use an online theme, select it, and then tap or click Save. When prompted, select a save location. When the download is complete, tap or click Open in the Download Complete dialog box. The theme is now available for use and applied.

  3. The lower portion of the Personalization console provides appearance options for the selected theme. To change one of these items, tap or click it.

To restore the original desktop theme, follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold or right-click an open area of the desktop, and then tap or click Personalize.

  2. Select Windows as the theme.

Tailoring and Saving Themes

When you apply a theme to the Windows desktop, many different system settings can be affected. Typically, users might like a theme but dislike a specific aspect of it, such as the sounds. To fix this, you can change the system setting that the user doesn’t like and then save the updated theme so that he or she can restore it in the future.

You manage themes using the Personalization console, which you open by pressing and holding or right-clicking an area of the desktop and then tapping or clicking Personalize. In the Personalization console, the primary settings that themes affect are as follows:

  • Screen savers To change the screen saver, tap or click Screen Saver. In the Screen Saver Settings dialog box, select a screen saver, or select None to remove the screen saver, and then tap or click OK.

  • Sounds To change sounds, tap or click Sounds. In the Sound dialog box, use the Sound Scheme list box to select a different set of program event sounds. To restore the default, select Windows Default. To turn off program event sounds, select No Sounds. Tap or click OK. If you are turning off sounds, you might also want to clear the Play Windows Startup Sound check box.

  • Mouse pointers To change mouse pointers, tap or click Change Mouse Pointers in the left pane. In the Mouse Properties dialog box, use the Scheme list box on the Pointers tab to select a different set of pointers. Tap or click OK.

  • Desktop background To change the desktop background, tap or click Desktop Background. Use the Picture Location list to select the location of the pictures to use for a background. Tap or click Browse to display the Browse For Folder dialog box. You can also choose Windows wallpapers to use as backgrounds from the %SystemRoot%\Web\Wallpaper folder, which is where standard backgrounds included with Windows 8 are stored by default. Tap or click the background you want to use, set the picture position, and then tap or click Save Changes.

  • Color schemes To change color schemes, tap or click Color. Tap or click the color you want to use, and then tap or click Save Changes.

Deleting Custom Themes

Themes that users install from other locations can take up a lot of space on the hard disk. To delete a theme and remove the theme-related files, follow these steps:

  1. Press and hold or right-click an open area of the desktop, and then tap or click Personalize.

  2. Under My Themes, press and hold or right-click the theme to be deleted, and then tap or click Delete Theme. Windows removes that theme’s definition file and the theme-related media files.