Free Windows Desktop Themes

Category: Windows

I just installed Windows 7 on a new desktop, and I want to trick it out. Where can I download new cursors, icons and backgrounds, and how are they installed?

Free Windows themes

Free Themes for Your Windows Desktop

A theme is a set of icons, colors, borders, cursors, and other Windows elements that add up to the "look and feel" of your system. The convenient thing about a theme is that it can change the appearance of many things at once, sparing you the hassle of tweaking file views, cursor shape, size of icons, etc., one component at a time.

Of course, that's also a theme's major drawback: it doesn't give your fine control over things. You may like the familiar shape of your cursor, but if you change the theme the cursor may well change too. Some themes give you a list of options when they are installing themselves, alowing you to select which items you do and don't want changed to match the theme.

Does it matter which theme you use? Psychologically, you tend to be more productive with certain shapes and colors than with others. So yes, it does matter. Test-drive a few themes built into Windows to see what effect they have upon your ability to quickly sort out multiple windows; find the cursor position; and generally enjoy your computing more.

Here's how to change themes in Windows 7. Click Start, then Control Panel. Under "Appearance & Personalization," click on "Change the theme". You should see a window displaying the themes available on your computer. Several themes are installed by default with Windows. If you don't care for the themes installed, you can download additional themes free of charge from many sources.

Download a Free Windows Theme

Start at Microsoft's own Windows 7 theme library. Here you can browse and download themes or even create your own theme online, download it, and leave a copy for others to download. Note that themes designed for Windows 7 won't work with earlier versions of Windows. Search the Microsoft support site for your version's themes.

Hundreds of non-Microsoft Web sites offer free Windows themes, too. Themeworld.com, for instance, offers nearly 9,000 themes from which you can choose. It also lets you design your own theme using background wallpapers, icnons, borders, cursors, etc., of your own design or from its library. Just Google "Windows XP themes", "Windows Vista themes", etc. You will find plenty sites in which to browse for the perfect theme.

A word of caution: Some themes require you to enable the Windows Active Desktop in Windows XP. This can be risky because it enables the execution of ActiveX control code on your computer. Some viruses and other malware are written to take advantage of ActiveX controls. If you're diligent about applying Windows updates and run good security software, that will greatly lessen any risk.

Windows Aero is a high-powered theme platform included with Windows Vista and Windows 7. Microsoft portrays Aero as a "powerful, more efficient and more aesthetically pleasing user interface than the previously used theme (Luna)." It includes new translucency, live thumbnails, live icons, animations and eye candy. Many people disable Aero. It consumes significant computing resources for no great reason.

Themes are fun to play with, and the right theme can make your computing time more productive and enjoyable. But don't get obsessed with themes. They're just Windows dressing, after all.

Have you found an awesome source for Windows desktop themes? Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "Free Windows Desktop Themes"

Posted by:

chesscanoe
09 Dec 2009

If you want to get Windows 7 default themes packaged for many different countries, see the fine Windows 7 theme article at http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/guides/2009/11/unlock-hidden-windows-7-themes.ars?utm_source=Ars+Technica+Newsletter&utm_campaign=62139300f4-November_13_2009_Newsletter&utm_medium=email .


Posted by:

Paul Doty
10 Dec 2009

Check out Webshots.com for just about any desktop you'd like.


Posted by:

tom
20 Jan 2010

Back in the days of Windows 95, I created some desktop themes and I was wondering if they will work on a Win XP system, or for that matter, a Win7 system. It seems I read where there were compatibility issues. Any thoughts? Thanks.


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