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. Another format with .deskthemepack extension was introduced in Windows 8, which can also be used for this tutorial. Instructions in this post works in Windows 7, 8 and Windows 10 systems as well.
When a .themepack or .deskthemepack file is run, it extracts the contents automatically to the following folder:
As you see, it’s stored within the user profile folder, and the theme is available only for that user, and listed under "My Themes" in Personalization applet.
If another user in the same computer needs this theme, they need to run the theme pack file again, from their user account. This article tells you how to make available a Desktop Theme for all users in a computer, so that there are no redundant copies of theme files in the system.
Install a Theme For All User Accounts
I’ll how you how to install a desktop theme for all users. For illustration purposes, we’ll use the following themes as samples, and make them available in the Personalization page for ALL user accounts.
- HappinessFactory (Coca-Cola) Theme
- Fruit Ninja Theme (this would be in Page 2 of the article)
Before starting, uncheck the "Hide extensions for known file types" setting in Folder Options – View tab. (REF Show or hide file name extensions)
Download the Happiness Factory theme from Microsoft and save to Desktop. Rename Happiness Factory_Windows7.themepack to Happiness Factory_Windows7.cab.
Create a folder on your Desktop, and name it as HappinessFactory.
Double-click the file Happiness Factory_Windows7.cab to view its contents. Select all files, right-click and choose Extract…
Select the HappinessFactory folder and click Extract
Click Save. Do this for every file.
Double-click HappinessFactory folder, and create a sub-folder named DesktopBackground
Move all the JPG images to the DesktopBackground folder.
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)
Save the .theme file and close Notepad.
Move the folder HappinessFactory from your Desktop to C:\Windows\Resources\Themes
Click Continue when you see the User Account Control prompt. You may have to type the administrator password if prompted.
Now move the file Happiness.theme from the HappinessFactory folder to its parent folder, which is C:\Windows\Resources\Themes
Right-click on your desktop, and choose Personalize.
The Happiness Factory Theme is now listed under Installed Themes, which is accessible for all users in the system.
Check Page 2 of this article to see another example, using the colorful Fruit Ninja Theme!
Install FruitNinja Theme for All Users
This post and the demonstration comes from a Windows 10 computer, just to show you that the common themes work in Windows 10 as well.
Download Fruit Ninja Theme from Microsoft Themes, and save it to desktop. Rename the downloaded theme pack’s file extension to .cab, that is FruitNinja.themepack to FruitNinja.themepack.cab.
Create a folder named FruitNinja on your desktop.
Double-click FruitNinja.themepack.cab to open it. This theme pack comes with 5 desktop wallpapers and 14 .wav files for Sound Events. Select all files in the cab file.
Right-click on the selection…you’ll get the following warning..
.. click OK, and click Extract… in the right-click menu.
Extract the files to the FruitNinja folder that you created earlier.
In the FruitNinja folder, create a subfolder named DesktopBackground, and move all the .JPG images into the DesktopBackground folder.
Next, open the file Fruit Nin.theme file using Notepad. We need to change the image and sound file paths mentioned in the file, to absolute paths.
Change the BrandImage line in the .theme file from:
Note: You’ll need to update the Paths for each and every file that comes with the .theme pack. However, do not update the lines that already contain the full or absolute path format.
Likewise, update the Wallpaper path accordingly.
This themepack comes with many .wav files. Scroll down to to the .theme file until you see the lines containing text "AppEvents" that reference the .wav files.
Note that there is a lot of whitespace before the AppEvents part, and you need to scroll down a page or so.
Update the paths as shown below, to full paths. I’ve marked the modified lines using the orange arrow symbol.
Under [Slideshow] section, Select the ImagesRootPIDL (the 3 lines) and delete it.
Update the ImagesRootPath value to full path, from…
Save the .theme file, and close Notepad.
Now copy the FruitNinja folder to C:\Windows\Resources\Themes folder.
Open C:\Windows\Resources\Themes\FruitNinja, and move the .theme file alone (Fruit Nin.theme) to it’s parent folder, that is C:\Windows\Resources\Themes.
It’s all set now. This lists Fruit Ninja Theme under Installed Themes, for all user accounts. I’ve tested it and every aspect of the theme — slideshow, sounds and colors work correctly!
(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.)