In terms of themes and visual features, Windows 10 isn’t generally seen as a super-customizable platform like Linux. Be that as it may, there are still plenty of official and unofficial themes for Windows 10, with which you can give your desktop some pretty incredible makeovers.
So whether you’re looking for a nostalgic theme that takes you back to the fledgling years of Windows or something a little more edgy from a designer at DeviantArt, you’ll find something here.
Note: if you don’t know how to install Windows 10 themes, then read our guide on how to do it first.
If you want the quintessential Windows 10 classic theme, this is it. If you’re prepared to follow the rather elaborate guide to the word, then your Windows 10 will end up looking just like Windows 98/2000, albeit with all the extra little modern conveniences, like panes, File Explorer, high resolutions and so on.
It’s a really impressive project, with a big community behind it that’s completely committed to recreating, but also modernizing, that old-school Windows feel.
Given the scale of the changes, you’ll need to do a lot more than just use the UltraUXThemePatcher to load many of the other themes in this list. But put in the work, and you’ll be justly rewarded with a truly convincing retro Windows theme (that’s highly customizable, too!).
2. macOS Big Sur
One of the main things that people switching over from Mac to Windows complain about is the UI design, which is drastically different from what they’re used to. Which one you think is better design-wise is a discussion for another time, but the point is it’s different enough that it can take a lot of getting used to.
Or, instead of learning the ways of Windows, why not just bring the macOS UI experience over with you? From the notification center to the Launchpad, lock screen, and the way window control buttons sit at the top left corner of a window instead of the top right, this theme is one of the best ever recreations of the Mac experience on Windows. Visually, it’s pretty much perfect, though some may be annoyed by the fact that there are options, like “Apple Software Update,” that are basically redundant (instead of, say, redirecting you to the Windows Update menu).
The good news is that you can apply this theme to any version of Windows from XP all the way to 10.
3. Desktop by Jonatica-andl
The name may not give much away, but one look at Jonatica-andl’s mesmerizing theme should tell you all you need to know. It looks beautiful, with centralized taskbar icons and a Mac-style dock just above it, helping everything look very elegant.
We love the subtle OSD in the corner showing vital information like CPU, memory and hard drive usage, as well as Internet speed. And look at that stylish date display at the top-centre.
The Google search bar is a nice bonus, too.
A mixture of vibrant, almost neon, buttons and icons with firm opaque white or black themes for actual windows, cakeOS is a tasteful theme for those who want a little bit of “pop” to their Windows experience. It’s hard to compare cakeOS to anything else, other than to say it has a nice bubblegum-retro feel to it. Even the Start button gets a vivid makeover while keeping with the Windows logo colors.
You can make various adjustments to the theme, such as choosing between borderless, bordered or rounded corners on the actual windows, as well as how the buttons look when the window is in a hover state. You can also opt for rounded window corner buttons (macOS-style) or Windows-styled square ones.
One of the best “dark” themes of recent times, GreyEveTheme makes Windows 10 literally much easier on the eyes with its color palette of blacks and greys. For those who find the harsh white backgrounds of windows like File Explorer and the Settings app, this one’s for you.
Note that this theme doesn’t include any interface or design changes. It sticks with the flat Windows 10 design and pretty much switches the lights off on it. If you’re looking for more significant overhauls of how Windows 10 looks, read on.
6. Windows XP
Let’s get started with possibly the most nostalgic and universally-loved theme in Windows history – Windows XP. Doesn’t that blue-and-green taskbar just look so welcoming and bouncy?
To get an authentic Windows XP look, you first need to get Classic Shell, which provides the necessary customization tools for Windows 10. After that, you can get the Classic Shell XP suite for Windows 10 to get that unadulterated XP look.
Like the other themes we review in the rest of this list, Penumbra is not made by Microsoft. You’ll need to apply the patches above before and manually place the theme’s files in the right folder before you can use the theme. But once you have it set up, it’s a beautiful, dark theme that makes using your system at night a pleasure.
9. Simplify 10
Simplify 10 is actually a pack of Windows 10 themes, all collected around the same simple aesthetic. It flattens the Windows interface as much as possible, relying on subtle variations in grey and white to distinguish different parts of the UI. It also shrinks the window control buttons, which may or may not be to your liking.
AB‘s major visual change is a heavy black bar that runs across the top of every themed window. It also reduces contrast dramatically across the entire system and reskins most of the UI.
11. Anthem Two
Like LAB, Anthem Two also adds a heavy black bar to the top of all themed windows. It doesn’t reduce contrast as much as LAB, however, making it a little easier on the eyes.
If you’re willing to risk a little frustration to get a much better-looking system, these Windows 10 themes will be right up your alley. For more Windows 10 tips see our guide on how to reset group policy settings. If you’re still running Windows 7 (you probably shouldn’t be), then you can also make it look like Windows 10.