About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

September 11, 2012

Windows 7, Hidden Themes

Thanks for all of the follow-up emails I received after the last couple of hints I gave you about Windows 7 shortcuts.  I picked up a few good questions for future columns.  Remember, I get all the ideas for articles from you, so keep them coming!

One I received from Gerry was about a secret Windows 7 feature…Themes.  Well, OK, Windows Themes are not a secret; however, they have hidden a few extras in Windows 7. Today I will tell you how to find them.

First, we need to define themes.  A theme is a collection of digital images, possibly related sounds, coloring and shading to make your desktop environment more personal.  Interestingly enough Microsoft calls it "Personalization."  They also allow you to run a slideshow with pictures on your desktop wallpaper.  

Microsoft estimates one of the first things that approximately 90% of windows users do is to personalize their desktops.  You know you have a picture of your kids, grandkids, dogs, cats, etc. on the desktop in XP.  Windows 7 allows you to use a themed group of graphics which change at a predetermined interval.  You can also personalize your themes even more by including your own collection of pictures in a theme.  You may say you already have a wallpaper screensaver and you would be correct.  However, themes will actually change your wallpaper (not a screensaver) throughout the day.

To change your computer’s theme simply right click on an empty space on the desktop and click on "Personalize."  Next, click on one of the available themes, then close the personalization window and you are done.  The new set of graphics will start cycling through at a predefined rate which you can speed up or slow down if you wish.

Now I do have a secret for you.  There are several themes loaded in to W7 when it is new; however, there are some hidden too. 

Getting to them is a multi-step process.  Step one is to click the "Orb" (Start button) and type "Show hidden files and folders" (always without the quotes.) Press enter when it appears in the menu area.  Next, under the "Hidden files and folders" section select the radio button labeled, "Show hidden files, folders, and drives" and then remove the checkmark from the "Hide extensions for known file types" checkbox and also from "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended.)"  Do not worry about having to look too hard.  Once you find the first one the others are just a couple of spaces below.  The only warning here is that you will now be able to see "secret" windows files that you should never try to edit or delete.  If you do you WILL have major issues.

Ron's ThemesThe final step is much quicker.  Navigate to "C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT" and you will see several theme folders.  There should be one each for Australia, Canada, Great Britain, the USA and South Africa.  Open each folder and find another folder named, “Theme.”  Once there open that folder and find the file named similar to, “XX.theme.”  For example, the Australian theme file is name, “AU.theme” and “US.theme” for the USA, etc.  Double click that file.  Then that theme will be loaded into your personalized area and be ready for use.

You may also create your own themes.  Hmm… maybe more about that in the near future.

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