Windows Themes are packages of color adjustments, sounds, desktop backgrounds and other personalization tweaks and are distributed together. Users can download and apply these packages to spruce up their machine with artfully designed themes.
Microsoft and Non-Microsoft Themes
Themes can be found in a few places. Microsoft actually makes quite a few available from their own website. However, the most interesting themes are available on sites like DeviantArt where independent designers create their own packs.
Non-Microsoft themes can’t be installed by default, however. We’ll first need to loosen Microsoft’s restrictions on theme installations.
Installing Microsoft Themes
If you do want to install one of Microsoft’s themes, it’s very straightforward.
1. Download the desired theme from the Microsoft website.
2. Once the theme is done downloading, double-click on the downloaded “.themepack” file to add the theme to your theme library and immediately apply it.
You can also apply themes from the Personalization menu under Control Panel.
1. Click on “Change the theme” under “Appearance and Personalization” in the Control Panel app.
2. Click on the icon of theme you want to apply.
Installing Non-Microsoft Themes
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also patch your system to allow for the installation of non-Microsoft themes.
1. Make a backup! Using a theme that doesn’t match can nuke your system, and there’s a non-negligible chance of that happening. A restore point is good, but an image backup is even better.
2. Download and install UltraUXThemePatcher.
3. Find themes from websites like DeviantArt.
4. Copy theme files into “C:/Windows/Resources/Themes.” If the file contains themes for multiple builds of Windows 10, make sure you’re using the right one. You can find your build by pressing “Win + R” and typing
winver into the command line.
5. Click on the theme you want to apply from Control Panel’s Personalization menu.
8 Windows 10 Themes You Should Check Out
1. Taiwan Culture Sketches by Cheng Ling
Taiwan Culture Sketches is the only theme that’s actually from Microsoft that made it onto the list. It’s basically a glorified collection of wallpaper images with some color matching. The included wallpapers are great.
2. Penumbra by Scope10
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.
3. Seda by unisira
Seda is another dark theme from DeviantArt. Unlike Penumbra, it’s not completely dark, with light grays sprucing up the interface. It also themes the context menu in a lovely dark gray to complete the look.
4. Arc by neiio
5. ClassicX by neiio
ClassicX restores as much of the now-ancient Windows 3.1 operating system’s aesthetic as it can. If you’ve been hoping to return to gradient title bars, rectangular buttons and beveled edges, this theme will bring you there.
6. Simplify 10 Light by dpcdpc11
Simplify 10 Light 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.
7. LAB by Scope10
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.
8. Anthem Two by participant
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.
Honorable Mention: Silk
Seem in the featured image for this post, Silk unfortunately no longer works for modern versions of Windows 10. But if you’re still on an older Windows 10 installation, it’s a great theme and one of my favorites.
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.