Saving Sharing and Finding Theme Settings

If you've got all the visual and aural aspects of your profile set up just the way you want them, and you want to be able to experiment further but still return to the current settings, it's time to revisit Personalization (right-click the desktop and choose Personalize), shown earlier in Figure 4-12 on page 125 . At the top of the themes list, in the My Themes category, you'll see Unsaved Theme if you have made changes to whatever theme was previously in effect. To make those changes reusable, click Save Theme and supply a name . (The name you furnish is the display name that appears in Personalization; you needn't follow restrictive file-naming rules that prohibit several common punctuation symbols .)

If you make additional changes, you'll once again generate an Unsaved Theme entry. There's no limit to the number of themes you can create. Windows saves each group of settings as a .theme file in your %LocalAppData%\Microsoft\Windows\Themes folder. (A .theme file is a standard text file that describes all the theme settings . For complete details about theme files, see "Creating and Installing Theme Files" at You can delete unwanted items from the My Themes list; simply right-click the item you no longer want and choose Delete Theme Note that you can't delete the theme that's currently in use f

After you create a theme you like, you might want to use it on your other computers or share it with other users . Because a .theme file is just a text file, it doesn't contain the u graphic images of your desktop, the sound files you use for various events, or other necessary files that make up the entire theme experience . For the purpose of sharing themes, Windows uses a .themepack file, which includes the .theme file as well as all other nonstandard theme elements . A .themepack file uses the standard compressed folder (.zip archive) format to envelop its component files. To create a .themepack file of an item in My Themes, first select it to make it the current theme. Then right-click it and choose Save Theme For Sharing. Unless you specify otherwise, Windows saves the . themepack file in the default save location of your Documents library.

To use a theme that was saved in .theme or .themepack format, simply double-click it. (Of course, a .theme file won't offer the full experience if the theme components aren't available on your computer in folders to which you have access .)

Because themes are so easily portable, you can find many compelling Windows 7 themes online . Start your quest by clicking Get More Themes Online (under My Themes in Personalization), where Microsoft offers a nice selection .


If you search for themes elsewhere on the internet, be sure to download theme files only from people or companies you know and trust. Some theme elements (most notably, screen savers, which include executable program code) have long been notorious vectors for viruses and spyware. (A study released in 2009 by the security software vendor McAfee found "screen savers" to be the web's most dangerous search term, because the results pages often lead to malware downloads . As Windows 7 gains in popularity, searches for "free themes" are likely to produce risky results too. You can read the study at Also, other types of malware could be disguised as a theme pack . (That is, you think that by double-clicking a file you're installing a theme, but you could in fact be installing a nefarious program instead .)

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