How To Apply Custom Themes To Windows XP SP3

This guide will show you how to apply customized themes to Windows XP, and even provide links to a few of our own favorite themes.

Customization is something I enjoy greatly. Why can’t we use user made themes in Windows XP out of the box? Beats me. Luckily, there are ways you can! What you need is something that will patch UXtheme.dll to allow third party (non-Microsoft) themes. This tutorial will guide you through installing, setting up and using Uxtheme Multi-patcher 6.0 to apply custom themes to Windows XP SP3, and I’ll share 4 of my favorite themes.

Please note: Although this guide was initially published back in 2008, all of the software and themes it references still exist. So if you’re still using Windows XP – these instructions will still work for you!

  1. Unzip the Multi-Patcher and click Patch. A window will pop up asking if what it describes is your OS, click Yes if it does. Another window should pop up asking you to wait a moment and telling you not to have any Windows Setup CDs in your computer. Click OK, and then it will tell you that you need to restart. Click OK to have your computer restart or click Cancel to restart later. You need to restart before you can use themes. I usually download some themes before I restart, but you can restart first if you want.

  2. click to enlarge

    Note: If you ever want to go back to your old ways, you can just run the UXTheme Multi-Patcher again and it will revert UXtheme.dll back to normal.

  3. Now, lets get to those themes! I’m going to share five with you. I find almost all of the themes I use on DeviantArt. To apply these themes, you need to right click on your desktop, click Properties, and then on the window that pops up click the Appearance tab.
  4. First up, Aquanox, shown below. Just click download, open the .zip file, and run the installer. Simple, right? Unfortunately, not all themes are this easy to install.
  5. Next, SlanXP 2. This one is slightly more complicated than just running an installer, but don’t worry! It’s still really easy. Download the .zip file, open it, go into the SlanXP2 folder and you should see something like what’s shown below.
  6. Open up the Fonts folder in the SlanXP2 zip, then open up your computers Font folder. Usually C:\Windows\Fonts (quick tip: copy that, press Windows Key + R, paste it, and press enter. The folder should open!). Select the fonts in the .zip file and drag them into your computers font folder. This will install the fonts. Now go back in the .zip file. You can ignore the Walls folder, or copy it somewhere if you like them. What we’re really after is the SlanXP2.msstyles file. You’ll need to go to your computers theme folder, usually C:\windows\resources\themes. Create a new folder here, name it SlanXP2, and drag the SlanXP2.msstyles file into this new folder. You should now have the theme in your Display Properties -> Appearance tab now. The different color schemes for this theme actually just use different fonts.
  7. Next up is GUI.Relax, because all black themes get boring after a while. Download the .zip and open it. With this one you can just copy the GUIRelax folder into your themes folder. You can also delete the wallpaper folder inside of it if you don’t want to use it.

  8. Last one! Royale Vista II Final. I used this one for a really long time. It also another one with an installer! I’m showing blue but there’s a black scheme you can switch to.

I hope you enjoy the themes. Please feel free to share some of your favorites!

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14 thoughts on “How To Apply Custom Themes To Windows XP SP3”

  1. This post was very usefull, thank you! I can have a really nice start menu now, finally, tyty :3

  2. WOW, TYTYTYTYTY, you don’t know how much i wanted this, you are a genius thank you very much, you helped me extremely, i have been trying to apply themes for 4 hours and couldnt get it reading this it took me 10 minutes, :P

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