How to Install and Use Custom 3rd Party Themes in Windows? - AskVG


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DISCLAIMER: Patching system files using 3rd party software might be dangerous for your system. We do not recommend it and we'll not be responsible if it harms your system.

We here at AskVG love Windows customization and we post several custom 3rd party themes time to time for changing Windows look-n-feel. But Windows doesn't allow 3rd party themes by default and we need to patch Windows to be able to use those themes.

We have posted about several free utilities in past which allow you to patch Windows to use 3rd party themes but people get confused sometimes which utility should they use in which Windows version?

So today to clear all confusions and to make your life easier, we are combining all tools in this single topic.

You can use any of the following mentioned free utilities to patch your Windows and to use your favorite 3rd party theme:

1. UxStyle

"UxStyle" is a very small lightweight utility created by our friend "Rafael" to use 3rd party themes in Windows. According to the developer:

UxStyle is a light-weight system service named Unsigned Themes, complimentary to the Themes service, and a kernel driver, sizing in at ~500k and ~17kb respectfully (beta builds). The service handles the enabling/disabling of custom theme support and the kernel driver handles patching. For 64-bit platforms, the kernel driver is signed with a digital certificate, as required by Microsoft.

Simply download and install the tool and get ready to enjoy 3rd party themes. It works in almost all Windows versions including Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 10. It also supports Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2008 R2, 2012 and 2012 R2.

It'll run as a service in background and will allow you to use 3rd party themes.

Download Link

2. Universal Theme Patcher

"Universal Theme Patcher" is another excellent UxTheme Patcher which supports Windows XP, Server 2003, Vista, Server 2008 and Windows 7. It can be used in both 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) systems.

You can download it using following link:

Download Link

Alternate Download Link

Following are simple steps to use this tool:

1. You just need to run its EXE file and it'll ask you to select the language.

2. Click on OK button and it'll detect the OS and condition of the system files. It'll show you the information and will ask you for confirmation.

3. Click on Yes button. Now you'll see the main interface of this tool. You just need to click on the "Patch" button given for each file:


4. Once you patch a file, the "Restore" button gets activated so that you can restore the default file in future.

5. Restart your system and you'll be able to use 3rd party themes in Windows without any problem.

Applying Custom 3rd Party Theme

Once you have patched Windows, copy your desired theme folder (containing a .theme file and a folder containing .msstyles file) to "C:\Windows\Resources\Themes\" folder.


Now double-click on .theme file and it'll apply the theme or you can apply it using Desktop Properties.

You can find various themes in our following section:

Themes and Wallpapers


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Posted in: Themes & Wallpapers, Troubleshooting, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8 / 8.1, Windows Vista, Windows XP

About the author: Vishal Gupta (also known as VG) has been awarded with Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) award. He has written several tech articles for popular newspapers and magazines and has also appeared in a few tech shows on TV channels.