How to Install Desktop Themes

by Dillard Stone

Installing desktop themes is a great way for computer users to express their creative personalities. By personalizing your computer desktop you will feel more inspired, surrounded by your favorite colors, fonts, images and sounds. Like the clothes you wear, desktop themes represent who you are.

Go to the Windows XP or Windows Vista themes websites (see References 1 and 2). Decide which desktop theme to use. During this step, experiment with different themes. Find one that best fits your personality. Choose several themes and change them periodically. You work hard, spending many hours on your computer, so you will want to pick a desktop theme that eases your mind, provides less strain on your eyes and helps organize your computer desktop.

Download your desktop theme. Before downloading, create a system restore point (optional, see Resources). After choosing your theme, click the download button. Save the downloaded files to a designated folder or on the desktop. The downloaded files will most likely be in a compressed ZIP file format. Use the free utility WinZip to extract the file.

Install your desktop theme. After extracting the files, click on the setup.exe; this will start the installation process.

Select your desktop theme. Once the installation process is complete, navigate through the Start Button > Control Panel > Appearance and Themes > Display. After clicking "Display," the Display properties window will appear; select the "Themes" tab. Click on the drop-down menu; you will notice the Window themes, however, select "Browse." A window called "Open Theme" will appear--navigate to where you saved the extracted files and select the .theme file. A preview of the selected theme will appear in the sample of the Display Properties window. If you like the preview, click "OK."

Test your out your new desktop theme. Does it ease your mind, provide less strain on your eyes and help organize your computer desktop? If not, choose another theme and repeat the selection and installation process until the desktop displays your favorite colors, images and fonts; a virtual world created by you.


  • check Make sure the desktop theme is compatible with your computer's operating system.


  • close Be careful not to download desktop themes from suspicious websites.

Items you will need

About the Author

Dillard Stone has been a writer and multimedia producer in Chicago, Ill., since 1990. His work includes educational media published by Pearson Scott Foresman, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Prentice Hall and other media companies. Stone's work appears in school districts throughout North America. He has a B.A. in communications from Northern Illinois University and Columbia College. Stone is also an A+ certified IT technician.