Create Your Own Custom Windows 8 Themes

Microsoft has done quite a nice job over the past few years of supporting themes. The company maintains, and continuously updates, a personalization gallery that contains thousands of themes encompassing a wide variety of subject matter, from nature to movies and more. Moreover, the platform is completely open, so anyone can build and distribute themes of their own creation.

Today we are going to look at how you can create your very own Windows 8 theme and also where Microsoft hides these files when you download one from there or another source.

Before building a theme, it is useful to know exactly where the finished product will end up being stored on your computer. Microsft buried theme files in a hidden folder, so you will first need to enable these. Go to the charms menu and type “hidden” and click the top result, then scroll down and enable “Show hidden files, folders, and drives”.

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Now open Explorer and head to:

C:\Users\user-name\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes

Each theme is stored in its own folder, and you can open each one to view the images that make up that particular theme. In some cases you can even get information on what the image is – for instance the location where a nature picture was taken. Themes downloaded from Microsoft generally contain this information.

Before you begin constructing your new theme, locate all of the photos you wish to use and copy them into one folder and remember the location of this. This will make the process much simpler.

Now,start off by right-clicking on your desktop and choosing the last option – “Personalize”. At the bottom left click on “Desktop background”.

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By default, this should open to the previously discussed location where Microsoft hides all Windows themes. However, you can click “Browse” and navigate to the folder containing the images you wish to use. Note that the file does not have to be on the computer you are using, as long as it is on a PC on your network (and shared) then you can browse to it.

Click on each image you wish to use, which places a checkmark in a tiny box at the top left of the photo, indicating that it will be used in this theme’s rotation.

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With our pictures chosen, it’s time to move on to the details of how our new theme will work. You’ll note at the bottom, below all of your images, there are several options. First, providing the images you have chosen can support it, you will want to set picture position to “fill”, meaning full-screen. If you can not do the full-screen (perhaps it distorts the picture), then you have other options, such as fit, stretch, tile and center.

You will also need to set the interval at which the images rotate. This can range from ten seconds to one day, with lots of options in between. The rotation will take place in an orderly fashion…unless you check the box for “shuffle”, which will lead to it changing to completely random images.

Click “save changes” to be done.  You now have a theme, which should be running on your PC already, and can be shared online privately or publicly.

Building themes in Windows is a fun, and user-friendly, project. Its an especially nice way to share images of family and vacations with distant relatives. It makes for a great weekend project as well, especially with cold, nasty weather now approaching here in the northern hemisphere.