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

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

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

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  • i download a theme but it does'n have a file with .theme post fix
    as you told we need a file (a.theme) and a folder with same name. so i don't have a.theme file, i just downloaded s folder contain .msstyle file. how should i do?

  • VG

    ^^ In this case you'll need to manually create a .theme file for your downloaded theme. You can follow similar steps given in following tutorial:

    Just remember to give .theme file same name as your downloaded theme. Also while editing .theme file, set correct .msstyles file path.

  • I have tried all of these programs, and the themes won't take affect. I have tried multiple third party themes, and nothing seems to work. I really would like to use these themes.

    Any help?

  • VG

    ^^ Once you run Universal Theme Patcher and restart your system, run the patcher again and check whether its showing all 3 files patched or not.

  • I've always made my own themes for Windows, and I have a PILE that I love on my Vista computer. I need to upgrade to Windows 7, but it won't take any of my themes when I tried to transfer them over. People seem to think that I will have to re-do them all by hand, this patcher the work around? I have a file with the name of each theme, and all the contents that go into inside, including the .theme file. If I install and run this, will I be able to use my old themes again? Hoping, but worried!

  • PS---these are themes I made using mostly the windows classic style, and I've used them happily across many new computers, and moved them from windows XP into Vista. Windows 7 ruins everything!

  • VG

    ^^ If you created the theme by editing .msstyles file, you can try to port those themes to Windows 7 using Windows Style Builder. Just search on Google for it.

  • Hello Vishal,,

    i have a problem about this patch. That's when i'll to try 3rd party themes, it's not working,, and my computer has grey screen, then back to log on screen. I have try all patcher, and the result is same. How to fix it?

    (Sorry 4 my bad English,,)

  • VG

    ^^ First try to repair system files using sfc /scannow command. Check method 4:

    After that try to run patcher.

  • ya hice lo indicado pero al clickear o "instalar" el tema solo se cambia el fondo por el ese verdecito pero las ventanas y lo dems se ven como de windows basico y por mas q intento no logro el efecto de transparencia en las ventanas q tanto quiero, tengo el windows 7 starter

  • mi problema es q al ejecutar el tema solo se cambia el fondo y el marco de las ventanas se visualiza como el de "windows clasico" y por mas q intento, no logro la transparencia en las ventanas q tanto quiero, tengo windows 7 starter y uso el Personalization Panel v1.4.0 ayuda por favor

  • Hello. I used the Universal Patcher and for applying 3rd party themes, it worked great. My only problem is that it won't let me right click images and save them. I browse for images off google, right click a picture and choose "save as" and the little window to save the image to my computer does not pop up like it would usually. I restored all patches and now I can save like normal. How can I fix this problem? I really want custom themes.

  • VG

    ^^ It might be a problem in a particular theme. Try to apply some other themes.

  • i can't use any 3rd party themes for my windows 7 32 bit,
    after i install theme, after restart, my windows startup always error, just stuck in 'Please wait..." and it's blink again and again.
    how to fix it and make my windows can use 3rd party themes?
    please reply me...
    sorry bad english, i hope u understand me.

    Thanks you.

  • VG

    ^^ Make sure you are using correct version of Theme Patcher. There are 2 versions: one for 32-bit and other for 64-bit.

  • i can't patch using Vista Glazz. it says "there is no System patch available for your Windows Version
    No action is further needed
    i can't patch using Universal Theme Patcher too
    Any help?


  • universal theme patcher doesn't work with windows 8 (enterprise)
    it can't even find the files it patches.

  • How can i apoy windows 8.1 aero lite theme in windows 7.I have downloader a rar file and it contains thee folders Explorer frame ,a theme file .Well what should i do next to apply these themes

  • VG

    ^^ You need to copy theme's folder and .theme file to the "C:\Windows\Resources\Themes" folder as mentioned in "Applying Custom 3rd Party Theme" section.

  • When I try to apply 3rd party themes with UXStyle, it shows up like Windows Classic
    What can I do?

  • VG

    ^^ If UXStyle is not working for you, try other patching utilities mentioned above.

  • well well, thanks for sharing i will try it :)

  • i am not be able create common tasks left side of window explorer

  • VG

    ^^ Please provide more details about your problem.

  • i got a same problem like Eve Rlyn, so after i patch the 3 of it and restart, it just show to please wait and can't log on, it keep bling and showing please wait again and again.
    and i'm sure i using the right theme patcher for 32bit (x86)
    can you help me please???

  • VG

    ^^ Thats strange. You can try to repair Windows using setup disc.

  • sir i downloaded a theme but there is no explorer background how to fix it?

  • I have same problem Eve Rylin, Please help...

  • I have the same problem with Eve Rylin. Please help how to fix this. Thank you.

  • I have tried them all, but they do not work. Please help

  • Please help! I patched it with Universal Theme Patcher, restarted and the theme had looked like default Windows. I did the same with UxStyle, same thing. I have 64-bit Windows. On my other computer, with 32-bit Windows, it worked fine. But I want it on the other one too!!!

  • Hi!You seem to be a fast and responsible replier and I hope you don't prove me wrong. Anyway, problem is that when I install the theme, and click on SevenVG RTM.theme, it displays a message: "The file, '(here it shows My Documents\themes, where I had first installed it, but now I have deleted it and reinstalled it right in the folder which contains the theme installer)' is not a valid theme" and then opens the Properties settings, where the SevenVG RTG theme is selected, but the preview shows a normal windows with a dull-blue backround. And true to the preview's words, when I click Apply, nothing's changed but the background. So what do I so now?
    I hope you understood my problem as I have a habit of making simple things difficult for people : )

  • VG

    ^^ Make sure the .theme file and its corresponding folder are stored in following location:


  • Help! UxStlye does not seem to work in Windows 10 Pro. Installed, restarted, tried to apply new themes and themes were not available to click on in personalize. Custom themes were copied & pasted to C:\Windows\Resources\Themes folder.

    Please Help!


  • I really wish you could upload ready-made files for Windows 7 x64 SP1, I don't like to use any Patch-program, I prefer manually replacing the .dll files instead.

  • VG

    ^^ The patching utilities do the same job. They replace the existing DLL files with already patched files. Some utilities first copy original DLL files to a temp location, then patch the files and then replace original files with patched files.

  • Unfortunately non of the various theme patchers for Win 10 I've tested so far work flawlessly (or the various themes offered have flaws; don't know exactly, but I think it are the patches).

    When you take a look down to the left side of the tray you can find a little arrow giving you access to blanked out programs. Works like a charm w/o patcher, but as soon as any of the patchers is applied, you run into an unpleasant surprise. Either the arrow isn't working at all, or all the icons are shown without any spaces left between them. As they anyway have one of the smallest possible sizes (16x16 or at best 24x24 pix) you can imagine how that looks like. Although these progs are probably not very often GUI-accessed, at least they are running and from time to time may need an user intervention.

    Thus — thanks, but 'No, thanks' as long as there aren't patchers (and themes?) that are proven to not compromising user experience.

  • Thank you so much for providing all of this informations i have change things on my XPand i and i am very happy with what i have done so far everything make sence you have provided me with the rest of the informations that i need it and so i have now my XP with the look of 7 and because of that my computer is very farst and look great
    Thank you again
    Eric Feray

  • I installed a theme pack and it works almost everywhere except the folder background. I don't know how to activate it. I use UxStyle by the way. Screenshot and theme source:

  • VG

    ^^ I think the theme developer is using a 3rd party software to show background image in Explorer.

  • Gee, it will not work with any of my 3rd-party themes like Windows XP Luna or anything.

  • help me
    so i installed uxstyle and the themes worked but after i restart my pc something happened
    my windows says: "Please wait..." then the screen turns black for about 1 sec and thats the part when my pc keeps looping "Please wait...", turns black and "Please wait..." again

  • VG

    ^^ Which Windows are you using?

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