How to Create a Theme in Windows Vista
It’s easy to create a theme in Windows Vista — wallpaper (desktop background), colors, icons, screen saver, mouse pointers, even your own custom sounds. That’s pretty cool, especially if you have a good reason to create a theme — like, oh, a new addition to the family.
Microsoft created the concept of a Windows desktop theme so it could make more money. That probably doesn’t surprise you. Starting in the times of Windows 98, Windows Plus! Packs (you may recognize them from the Da Vinci, Nature, or Space themes) made a few coppers for the coffers. Fortunately, you can subvert Microsoft’s method for your own purposes.
Vista stores theme settings in files with the extension .theme. Microsoft doesn’t talk about it much, but a theme file contains Registry entries. Fortunately, you don’t need to change the Registry entries directly.
For safety’s sake, save your current theme settings, in case you ever want to use them again. Right-click any empty part of the desktop and choose Personalize.
You see the Personalization dialog box.
In the Personalization dialog box, click the Theme icon.
You see the Theme Settings dialog box. If you haven’t made any changes at all to your desktop, the Theme drop-down box may say Windows Vista or Satisfied OEM Customer, or it may have some other setting that your computer manufacturer established.
Click the Save As button.
You see a garden-variety Vista Save As dialog box.
Type a name for your current theme and click Save.
Consider giving it a name with the current date, or something else that’s distinctive, in case you completely mess up your new theme and want to go back.
Click OK to get out of the Theme Settings dialog box.
If you want to use your own picture for the theme’s wallpaper (er, desktop background), take a moment and make sure that the picture is in your Pictures folder.
Although Step 6 isn’t absolutely necessary, it will save you a bunch of time if you ever want to move your theme to a different computer.
Back in the Personalization dialog box (see Step 1), click the Desktop Background link.
You see the Choose a Desktop Background dialog box.
Pick the wallpaper that you want to use for your theme, choose how you want it positioned, and change the background color by clicking the link, if you like. When you’re done, click OK.
You can choose any of the standard Vista-supplied pictures, but (as noted in Step 6) if you pick your own picture, make sure it’s in your Pictures folder before you choose it.
Back in the Personalization dialog box, click the links to change your Screen Saver, Sounds, or Mouse Pointers. You can also click the tasks on the left to Change Desktop Icons (which is to say, the appearance of standard desktop icons like the Recycle Bin) or Adjust Font Size.
Although you can click the links to change the Window Color and Appearance or the Display Settings, most of the changes you make in those categories aren’t reflected in the theme.
When you’re happy with all the changes you’ve made go back to the Personalization dialog box.
Click the Theme icon.
You see the Theme Settings box, and the Theme drop-down list says Modified Theme.
Click the Save As button.
Vista shows you the Save As dialog box.
Type a name for your current theme and click Save.
In this case, it was Rubye.Theme.
Click OK to get out of the Theme Settings dialog box, and then X out of the Personalization dialog box.
Anytime you want to bring back this theme, just go the Personalization dialog box, click the Theme icon, and choose Rubye in the Theme drop-down list.
You have now created a theme to use on your computer or even to distribute to your friends and family.
Computer threats that take advantage of newly released software and software patches.
A circuitry board that, when added to a computer internally, increases that computer’s capabilities; also called an expansion card.
A Windows color scheme and window format that was new to Vista.
A combination of the Aero color scheme and the Glass effect that creates a translucent effect in Windows.
Accelerated Graphics Port; a type of computer video expansion.
A type of inkjet printer that can also act as a scanner, fax machine, and/or copier.
A test that Microsoft uses to determine how quickly a computer's graphics card can blend colors.
A kind of software used for productivity or to create things (the software that does the work).
A wireless hub, which connects a computer network.
A type of wireless network standard used for short distances with devices such as cell phones and laptops.
Any high-speed Internet connection, whether provided through cable, DSL, or satellite.
The range of radio waves over which wireless devices communicate.
A means of accessing the Internet that runs through your cable TV coaxial connection.
A key on a keyboard that, when pressed to make active, causes letters to appear capitalized on the monitor’s display when you press the corresponding letter key on the keyboard.
A video upgrade card that can capture incoming analog video signal and convert it to digital video.
The container that stores ink or toner for use in a printer.
A Category 5 networking cable used to connect a computer to a network hub.
Compact disc; a removable storage medium that can hold data, text, and graphics.
A type of drive that you can attach to your computer in order to copy data from your PC to a recordable CD or DVD.
The metal frame on which your computer’s internal components and circuits are mounted.
An integrated computer circuit containing many elements connected on a single unit.
The collection of computer chips on a single motherboard.
An electrical device that provides a path for electrical current to flow.
ClearType is a special anti-aliasing tool developed by Microsoft to improve the appearance of fonts on high-resolution LCD flat-screen monitors.
A codec (short for coder-decoder or compressor-decompressor) is a small program that converts data from one form to another so that the data can be played on a media player.
A traditional DOS-like text interface that allows you to input instructions to the computer.
A Windows option that allows you to trick an older program into thinking it is running in a previous version of Windows.
A folder containing multiple files that have been packed in such a way that all excess space is eliminated.
The main computer box; also called the system unit.
The circuits that control data transfer to and from a disk drive (floppy disk, hard disk, or optical disc).
Tiny files that are used by Web sites to track your online activity and recognize you whenever you access the site.
A charged wire in a laser printer that draws the toner off the drum onto the paper.
Central processing unit; A computer component, often called a processor and microprocessor, whose speed determines how fast your PC operates.
A cable that allows two computers to connect to each other as a network without having to set up an actual Windows network.
Cathode ray tube; an older type of computer monitor that offers better color quality than an LCD monitor.
The blinking icon on the computer screen that shows you where the characters you type appear; also called an insertion pointer.
The score that the Windows Experience Index gives to your computer's ability to replicate 3D images.
Digital audiotape; A type of computer backup drive that copies data to a tape.
Double data rate; A computer DIMM memory module that’s still in general use.
Memory modules that double the data transfer rate between your RAM and your motherboard.
A Windows option that allows you to determine which program you want to run a certain task or open a certain file type.
The process that your computer uses to rearrange the pieces of files and applications on your hard drive so that they are positioned next to each other on the drive, improving performance speed.
A type of computer made up of a PC console, monitor, mouse, keyboard, and any additional attachments. A desktop PC isn’t easily portable.
A collection of settings that control the appearance and behavior of the various appearance settings in Windows.
One of the viewing options in Windows Explorer that you can use to obtain detailed information about each file.
A Windows tool that shows you the status of all the hardware elements on your PC.
A kind of computer Internet connection that uses existing phone lines.
A means of storing, transmitting, manipulating, or reproducing data, images and sounds by using groups of electronic bits represented by 1 and 0.
Electronic certificates that you can use to verify the identity of the person with whom you’re communicating.
Dual Inline Memory Module; A standard type of computer memory module.
A driver used by games, graphics, and audio programs in Windows.
A component of a computer that reads information from and writes information to a certain kind of disk.
The information that appears on your computer screen.
A computer that translates addresses you can understand, such as www.dummies.com, into addresses that the Internet can understand, such as 220.127.116.11.
A contraption used to hold a PC’s internal disk drives, an optical (DVD) drive, and a hard drive.
A special type of program that allows specific computer hardware to work.
Digital Subscriber Line; a type of Internet connection that takes advantage of unused frequencies in existing phone lines.
A CPU made up of two independent processors combined onto a single integrated circuit.
Digital video; used to describe camcorders that record video digitally.
Digital video disc; a removable computer storage medium that has a larger capacity than a CD.
A disk drive in or attached to your computer that can read information from DVDs and CDs.
Digital video interface: The standard connection method for certain types of video display, such as LCD monitors.
An adapter that allows you to connect an older monitor to a newer computer or vice versa.
A type of printer that transfers heated solid dye from a ribbon to specially coated paper, producing continuous tones, like those in a photo produced from a negative.
Extended Data Output; an older type of computer memory module that’s used on only old Pentium motherboards.
Enhanced Integrated Drive Electronics; a type of hard drive.
Adapting work or working conditions to suit the worker.
A Windows tool that can examine a hard drive and fix many common drive errors.
The standards and protocols used by Windows for networking.
A circuitry board that you can add to a computer internally to expand that computer’s capabilities.
A slot on a computer’s motherboard available for adding expansion cards, which add new components to the PC.
The small icon next to a URL address in an Internet browser's address bar.
A component of a printer in which you place paper that you want the printer to take and print on; also called a paper feed.
A technology that sends data as light at high speeds and in large amounts.
A binary (not physical) container that holds a chunk of information stored in a computer.
A computer program that restricts Internet access, primarily to prevent unwanted intrusions into your computer system.
Apple’s branded type of computer connection that you can use to attach various devices to your PC; most often used to connection DV camcorders.
A keychain-size storage unit that saves files on memory cards; you can plug it into your computer and access it like any other external hard drive.
A special type of computer memory that works like both RAM and ROM; information can be written to flash memory, but that information isn’t erased when the power is off.
When the Aero color scheme is engaged, this tool allows you to visually scroll through all open applications.
When a game controller rumbles or provides resistance to your hand that matches the action on-screen.
Front Side Bus; the primary pathway between a computer’s CPU and memory.
A device that you attach to your computer that allows you to input movement and actions when playing a computer game.
A game controller that features a flat surface and many buttons.
A Windows Appearance setting that gives your folders a nearly transparent look.
Graphics processing unit; the chipset used on your PC’s video card.
The circuitry that runs the computer monitor and controls the image that the monitor’s screen displays.
A computer’s monitor and graphics adapter.
A disk drive on your PC that can store the greatest amount of information and access it in the quickest manner; therefore, it’s the main source of permanent storage.
The physical part of a computer — anything you can touch and see, such as the computer console, monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
A Windows Help and Support Center tool that runs users through the most common causes of hardware errors in a question-and-answer format.
A Windows tool that can search for and add hardware to the system.
Headphones that include a built-in microphone for online communications and game playing.
A numbering system based on 16 digits that is often used for graphics.
A computer function by which it saves all the computer’s memory (everything the system is doing), then turns the computer off.
A type of Registry entry that contains a number of other Registry entries.
A keyboard shortcut that opens an application or performs a specific task.
A simple, inexpensive piece of hardware that merely connects a computer network.
A feature of certain Pentium processors that makes one physical CPU appear as two logical CPUs, overlapping two instruction streams in order to achieve a gain in performance.
Also called FireWire; a type of connection that you can use to attach various devices to your computer.
A type of computer printer that uses an ink ribbon and some device to physically bang the ribbon on the paper.
A type of computer printer that lobs tiny balls of ink directly on the paper to create a printout.
Information sent to and received by your computer.
The blinking icon that appears on your computer screen at the location where characters you type appear; also called a cursor.
Input/Output; the two kinds of activity that a computer engages in — it accepts input from outside devices and gives you output information in a variety of forms.
An infrared computer port that can be used to communicate with devices such as PDAs and other laptops.
Industry Standard Architecture; the oldest type of computer expansion slot, used now mainly for compatibility with older expansion cards.
The input device you use as a primary way to communicate with the computer; you input information by typing.
The Microsoft online help tool that contains information regarding Windows problems and errors.
A specialized, small printer that can create all kinds of labels on label tape.
Local area network; A group of computers connected to form a network.
A specialty type of computer that folds into a handy, lightweight package, making it easily portable; also called a notebook.
A type of computer printer that uses a laser beam to create the image, giving a crisp and fast output.
Liquid crystal diode; A type of computer monitor, also called a flat-panel monitor, that’s thin and uses relatively little electricity.
Light Emitting Diode; a display and lighting technology used in almost every electronic product.
When burning CDs and DVDs, this file system allows you to add and remove files as if the disc was another hard drive.
To identify yourself on a computer by entering a user name and password.
To tell Windows that you’re done using the computer without actually turning off the computer; you must log in to use it again. This action is also called logging out.
Telling Windows that you don’t want to use the computer anymore; also called logging off.
A type of application that is designed to cause problems (such as file corruption and stealing personal information) to computer systems.
When burning CDs and DVDs, this setting allows the disc to be read by most computers and players, but it does restrict you to only adding files one time.
A storage device that’s essentially the same thing as flash memory, although media cards are designed for use with various gizmos, such as digital cameras and MP3 players.
A Windows tool that allows you to set up networks on the fly without a hub or a router by skipping among wireless cards.
Temporary computer information storage which is emptied when you turn off the computer; also called RAM.
A solid-state (meaning it has no moving parts) computer information storage device.
A narrow printed circuit board that holds memory chips.
Your computer’s main hardware chip that determines the speed at which your computer can work; also called the processor and CPU.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface; rather than digital audio, a MIDI file gives the computer directions on how to play a song — kind of like how a program is a set of directions that tells your computer how to accomplish a task.
A special version of IEEE 1394 (FireWire) that’s designed specifically for digital video and digital cameras.
A standard computer connector used to connect a microphone to your PC.
The most popular PC configuration, where the desktop computer sits upright on a desktop or tucked away below the desk.
A device that allows your computer to communicate with other computers through the Internet.
A key on a keyboard that works in combination with other keys to do various tasks.
Being made up of a number of individual pieces that can each be replaced without having to change the whole.
The box and hardware that make up the part of your computer that displays information.
The computer’s main circuitry board, which contains essential PC components, such as the processor and memory.
A helpful input device that lets you work with graphical objects that the computer displays on the monitor’s screen.
A specialized sound card that contains a hardware encoder/decoder, which speeds up your PC’s ripping and MP3-playing performance.
A video card specifically designed for encoding and decoding Motion Picture Experts Group digital video (usually from a DVD).
A group of computer resources connected with each other and able to share information.
Network information card; Ethernet networking hardware that your computer requires to connect to a network.
A portable type of computer that folds up for easy transport; also called a laptop.
A key on a computer keyboard that, when pressed to make active, makes the numeric keypad on the right side of the keyboard produce numbers. When the Num Lock key is inactive, you can use the numeric keypad for moving the text cursor.
Optical character recognition; a program that allows the computer to read text from a scanned item and convert it to text that you can edit.
Open Graphics Language; a 3D graphics language developed by SGI, which has become a de facto standard supported in Windows (among other) computers.
Anything that the computer produces.
The Windows system uses a paging volume to expand the RAM and increase performance.
A small hand-held, battery-operated computer.
The portion of a computer printer in which you store the paper that the printer eventually prints on; also called a feeder tray.
The location on a computer printer where the printer paper comes out and is stacked.
A computer connection that used to be the primary means of connecting a printer to your computer; still used with some printers and peripherals.
A drive partition is a way that Windows virtually separates parts of a drive.
A disk that records your authority to access your user account — if you forget your password, you can use this disk to re-access the system.
Frequently found on laptops, this credit-card-size card contains a hard drive that you can insert into a PC slot to grab data you want to transport.
Peripheral Component Interconnect; the most common form of internal expansion for a PC.
The next generation of PCI PC expansion that communicates with the motherboard quickly and efficiently.
Personal digital assistant; a handheld computerized device.
A hand-held, pen-shaped scanner with which you can re-create drawings or text as image files.
A computer printer specifically designed to create photographs that rival traditional 35mm prints.
A type of network cable that’s designed to withstand high temperatures, such as inside a heating duct.
A technology that Windows uses to automate hardware installation.
A place on a computer where you can attach a device to send and/or receive information.
An adapter card that you can insert into your PC to add computer ports.
A type of firewall exception that gives the excepted program complete access to your system.
A connector that plugs into a wall outlet and offers several sockets (usually six) into which you can plug various devices to power them.
A device through which you get printed output (called hard copy) from your computer.
The action that a computer takes on input to produce a different output.
The component of a computer that handles the processing work the computer does; also called a CPU and a microprocessor.
A type of software that may or may not be used for productivity or to produce output, such as a computer game or a video editing program.
A type of connection dedicated to the kind of keyboard and mouse that feature this connector.
A toolbar that can be attached to the Windows taskbar to give users one-click access to their most commonly used programs.
Random access memory; a computer component that allows you to store data.
Direct Rambus RAM; a branded random access memory that allows your computer to store data. Rambus memory modules are much faster than the standard DDR modules, but are being replaced by DDR2 modules.
A technology that allows your computer to augment its memory using a flash memory drive.
ReadyDrive takes advantage of hybrid hard drives — the drives with significant amounts of integrated flash memory — to boot faster.
To restart your computer.
A base connected to a power outlet into which you can place a device that runs on rechargeable batteries in order to recharge those batteries.
A file that contains a backup of Windows Registry entries.
A Windows tool that allows you to manually make modifications to the Windows Registry.
A Windows tool that you can use to allow a user on another computer to access your computer so that they can help you correct errors.
The number of pixels that your monitor’s display can show, both horizontally and vertically.
Something that a computer uses to get work done, such as memory or processor power.
Windows tool for keeping track of the way all your system's components are being used, focusing primarily on the RAM and processor.
Read-only memory; Permanent memory that can’t be altered by the microprocessor.
Entries in the Windows Registry.
A sophisticated device used to connect your network; it can manage hundreds of networked computers and handle Internet traffic.
Repetitive stress injury; a physical condition caused by putting too much strain on a joint of the body.
Really Simple Syndication feeds: Automatically updated content that can be viewed with an RSS feed reader.
A way of entering Windows, primarily for diagnostics and repairs, that bypasses many of the drivers that can cause Windows failures.
One of the fastest means of connecting to the Internet, by using an outdoor antenna and a subscription to a satellite service.
A device that attaches to a computer and can create a graphics file of an object you place on the scanner (much like a photocopier, only a scanner produces a file rather than a paper copy).
The part of the computer monitor on which information is displayed.
An image of the screen's contents.
A key on a computer’s keyboard that, when pressed and therefore active, reverses the function of the cursor keys in some spreadsheet applications.
Also called SyncDRAM, these memory modules take the form of standard DIMMs. This kind of module is too slow for current PC use.
An older kind of versatile computer port that can connect a variety of devices to the PC; it has been largely replaced with USB ports.
Available in Vista Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate, shadow copies are a type of backup file that automatically saves all previous versions of files.
Single Inline Memory Module; a type of memory module that often needs to be added in pairs.
A state in which the computer slips into a special, power-saving setting, like going into a low-power coma.
Vista's built-in tool for creating screen shots.
Instructions that tell the computer hardware what to do or how to act; the brains of the computer.
A tool within Windows Defender that can be used to control which applications run during the Windows startup process.
A circuit-filled gadget that plugs inside your PC to add music and explosions to computer games.
A sound card feature that creates a 3D feeling to the sound being produced by your computer.
A computer connection, which requires special fiber optic cable, that’s used for digital audio.
Service Set Identifier; the name by which your wireless network is known.
Specifications about how a group of network devices communicate.
A kind of mouse that looks like a pen and draws on a special pad, which translates to the computer display.
A speaker box designed for low-frequency sounds, which gives oomph to the bass in music or adds emphasis to the sounds in games.
SuperFetch keeps track of which applications are being used the most on your computer and tries to pre-load those applications so they’re available before you need them.
A special type of power strip that helps fight irregularities in the electrical supply that runs to your computer.
3D environmental audio, created by a set of speakers positioned around the listener.
A type of computer connection that allows you to attach an S-Video monitor, video recorder, or television to your PC.
A device that connects computers in a network and manages the signals between those computers.
The icons on the right side of the Windows taskbar that indicate what programs are running in the background.
The main box of the PC; also called the console.
Part of a file's metadata in which you can give a file a reference name that can be used by Vista and other programs to sort and retrieve files.
Windows tool for keeping track of the programs and processes that are currently running.
A computer designed to give accurate time information for any computer that checks in on the Internet.
A powdery ink substance that comes in a cartridge; used by laser printers.
A standard optical computer connector that creates high-quality sound reproduction.
A PC configuration that has essentially a full-sized desktop console standing on its side, usually on the floor; includes a lot of room for expansion.
A kind of upside-down mouse; you use your thumb or index figure to roll a ball on top of the mouse, while the whole contraption stays stationary.
A complete revision of a computer program that you use to replace the current program.
Uninterruptible power supply; basically, a power strip combined with a battery to keep your computer running for a short time when the power goes out.
Universal Serial Bus; a computer connection that you can use to attach many different kinds of devices and peripherals to a computer.
A Vista safety option that protects you from accidentally making changes to your system that could have a negative effect on system performance or stability.
A type of computer program that’s designed to help you manage the computer, or diagnose or fix problems.
A file that contains a person's personal contact information that can be sent to others via e-mail.
Video Gate Array; a name used to describe graphics adapters.
The circuitry that controls the image appearing on the monitor’s screen; also known as a graphics adapter.
The connector on a computer’s video card to which you attach a monitor.
The portion of your hard drive that Windows uses to expand the available RAM.
The most recent version of the Windows operating system.
Wireless access point; a device that brings wireless connectivity to an existing wired network.
A video camera that attaches to your computer and allows you to upload images or video to the Web.
The Windows Experience Index, Microsoft's assessment tool that analyses the hardware on your PC and determines how efficiently your system will be able to handle Windows Vista.
Wired Equivalent Privacy; the encryption for a computer network.
Wireless fidelity; the original 802.11b standard wireless base station.
Microsoft's assessment tool that analyses the hardware on your PC and determines how efficiently your system will be able to handle Windows Vista.
Windows' limited outbound firewall interface.
A portion of the Windows system that contains a wide variety of information that instructs Windows how to handle registered applications.
The measurement tool that Windows Vista uses to assess your system's capabilities and to create the WEI index for your PC.
Making a connection between computers or a computer and devices without physically connecting them with wires or cables; usually involves using radio signals to send and receive information.
A computer program in which you generate, edit, store, transmit, or duplicate electronic text documents.
A group of computers that all share a similar location or organization in a network.
Zero insertion force; a type of socket designed for easy insertion in which a lever is pulled down to lock the chip in place.
A type of file compression where one or more files can be placed into a single file archive, which is digitally compressed to take up less room on the hard drive.