A theme is a combination of desktop background pictures, Window colors, sound scheme and a screensaver. Windows 7 introduces a new file format (.themepack) which is basically a .cab file that can contain images, audio files for sound scheme, mouse cursors, icons and the .theme file itself. This file format was introduced so that it’s easier to share themes to other Windows 7 systems.

When a .themepack file is run, it extracts the contents automatically to the following folder:

%localappdata%\Microsoft\Windows\Themes

As you see, it’s stored within the user profile folder, and the theme is available only for that user. The theme will be listed under "My Themes" in Personalization applet.

If another user in the same computer needs this theme, they need to run the .themepack file from their user account. This article tells you how to make available a Windows 7 Theme for all users in a computer, so that there are no redundant copies of theme files in the system.

Share a Theme With All User Accounts

Note: For illustration purposes, we’ll download "Happiness Factory" theme and make it available in the Personalization page on a per-machine basis. Download the Happiness Factory theme from the Windows 7 Personalization Gallery site at Microsoft.com. Before starting, uncheck the "Hide extensions for known file types" setting in Folder Options – View tab. (REF Show or hide file name extensions)

1. Create a folder on your Desktop, and name it as HappinessFactory

2. Download the Happiness Factory theme and save to Desktop.

3. Rename Happiness Factory_Windows7.themepack to Happiness Factory_Windows7.cab

4. Double-click the file Happiness Factory_Windows7.cab to view its contents.

5. Select all files, right-click and choose Extract

6. Select the HappinessFactory folder and click Extract

7. Click Save. Do this for every file processed.

8. Double-click HappinessFactory folder, and create a sub-folder named DesktopBackground

9. Move all the JPG images to the DesktopBackground folder.

10. Open the .theme file (Happiness.theme) using Notepad, and input the correct paths for the wallpaper, desktop slideshow, screensaver, brand logo and other resources.

Updating the Brand Logo image path:

We’ll change that to:

Originally the Wallpaper path was as in the image below.

We’ll change that to the following absolute path, as we’re eventually going to place the theme under the C:\Windows\Resources\Themes folder.

Then scroll down to the [Slideshow] section, and delete the ImagesRootPIDL entry.

Update the location for the ImagesRootPath accordingly (as below)

11. Save the .theme file and close Notepad.

12. Move the folder HappinessFactory from your Desktop to C:\Windows\Resources\Themes

13. Click Continue when you see the User Account Control prompt. You may have to type the administrator password if prompted.

14. Now move the file Happiness.theme from the HappinessFactory folder to its parent folder, which is C:\Windows\Resources\Themes

15. Right-click on your desktop, and choose Personalize.

The Happiness Factory is now listed under Installed Themes, which is accessible for all users in the system.

Editor’s Note: I hope you found this article useful. If you need to know more about creating/editing .theme files, read the MSDN documentation on Creating and Installing Theme Files.


Email SubscriptionPrefer an E-mail subscription?

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

10 Comments

  1. Ade
    said this on Saturday, August 23rd 2014 1:47 pm

    Tony
    said this on Friday, August 6th 2010 7:19 am
    Thanks for this, very useful. One thing I have noticed though is that the theme doesn’t appear as a slideshow, it only shows the static wallpaper that’s set in the [Control Panel\Desktop] section. Until I click on Desktop Background under Personalize, and then it suddenly becomes a slideshow – but it also becomes a customised theme. Any way around this?

    Tony, I know this very late, but I had the same problem. The issue was I had used GPO to set Wallpaper. I removed this settings and the theme is now a slide show.

  2. alex
    said this on Wednesday, July 23rd 2014 6:19 pm

    Thanks for this great guide. :)
    But what should I do to have the same result in windows 8.1 with deskthemepack?
    Thanks in advance

  3. Shag
    said this on Thursday, February 6th 2014 8:01 am

    Hello, Whats the correct path for sounds? The theme works great but no sound. thanks for the cool article

  4. BT
    said this on Thursday, November 15th 2012 7:36 am

    Great article. What does the BrandImage do?

  5. Ken
    said this on Saturday, March 19th 2011 4:31 am

    Does anyone know how I can upload my themepacks to the Microsoft website?

    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/downloads/personalize/themes

  6. BigDaddyJ
    said this on Wednesday, January 5th 2011 8:12 pm

    I found that to make the slideshow function you will need to add a section to the .theme file as follows

    [Slideshow]
    Interval=1800000
    Shuffle=0
    ImagesRootPath=%SystemRoot%\Resources\Themes\Arctic\DesktopBackground

    Change the ImagesRootPath to point to the folder containing the images you want as part of the slide show. Change the Intreval value to change the speed of the slide show. This worked for me.

  7. Tony
    said this on Friday, August 6th 2010 7:19 am

    Thanks for this, very useful. One thing I have noticed though is that the theme doesn’t appear as a slideshow, it only shows the static wallpaper that’s set in the [Control Panel\Desktop] section. Until I click on Desktop Background under Personalize, and then it suddenly becomes a slideshow – but it also becomes a customised theme. Any way around this?

  8. John Dangerbrooks
    said this on Thursday, May 6th 2010 5:04 pm

    Hmmm… Good article. The process, however, seems complicated.

    Perhaps I could use Visual C# Express 2008 to develop an application for handling ThemePack files … properly!

  9. said this on Wednesday, April 21st 2010 10:36 pm

    @anon: If the theme file contains relative paths, simply copying the theme files/folder to the Resources\Themes folder would just do it. But that doesn’t simply work if the source .theme file already contains *absolute* paths. Also, this article is intended to provide some background info on customizing/applying themes, but just takes the Coke theme as an example :-)

  10. anon
    said this on Wednesday, April 21st 2010 6:39 pm

    OR simply put the theme in %windir%\Resources\Themes. That makes it appear under “Installed themes”. :-)

Leave a Reply