How-To Geek

How to Patch Windows Vista to Enable Custom Themes (Visual Styles)

Have you ever wondered why Windows Vista allows you to choose themes, but there’s no way to add custom themes without additional software? The reason is because Windows checks the themes with a cryptographic key, so you have to patch windows to allow custom-created themes to install.


IMPORTANT NOTE: Patching windows isn’t necessarily “safe” and shouldn’t be attempted unless you are willing to troubleshoot problems. There’s also some chance that it would void your warranty, etc etc. The point is that you might encounter problems.

First Step – Download the Patched Theme Files

This is an incredibly important step, as you don’t want to rename any files in the system32 directory without having the patched versions for the right version of Vista.

You’ll need to browse to the Within Windows site and download the correct version for your operating system. If you are running SP1, make sure you get the correct version, whether 32-bit or 64-bit.

Update: If you are using 64-bit Vista, use the file that says AMD64, even if you have an Intel chip.


There are three .dll files included in this package:

  • themeui.dll
  • uxtheme.dll
  • shsvcs.dll

All of these files are normally located in the C:\Windows\System32 directory. Those files will need to be replaced with the patched versions in order to enable custom themes.

Once you’ve downloaded the files you’ll need to extract them using a utility that can process .rar files, like WinRar or the free jZip utility. Make sure that you have extracted the files before you move on to the next step!

Second Step – Create a System Restore Point

You should create a system restore point before moving fowards, just in case there are any problems, so you can roll things back.

Create a System Restore Point in Windows Vista

Patching Files Using Take Ownership Utility

Patching these files is easiest if you use the Take Ownership context menu item, which will help you assign ownership of these files to your user account which will allow you to rename the files.

Browse down to C:\Windows\System32\ and then put the following into the search box so you can see all the files at the same time (make sure to use capital letters for “OR”)

themeui.dll OR uxtheme.dll OR shsvcs.dll


Right-click on the files and choose “Take Ownership” from the menu, and then click through all the UAC prompts.

Now you’ll need to rename the files and append .old to the end of the file (either right-click and choose Rename or use the F2 key).


At this point you should have 3 files with the .old extension. Whatever you do, DO NOT RESTART your computer at this step, or you’ll be using system restore and probably asking for help on our forum.


Now we need to copy the patched files into the system32 folder. You can just type C:\windows\system32\ into the address bar, and then copy / paste or drag the patched files you downloaded into this folder.


The most important thing here is to make sure that those three files are sitting in the System32 folder. Now you should be able to restart your computer.

Patch Theme Files Using the Command Line

I recommend using the take ownership script above, rather than this method, but for completeness I’ll explain it as well.

First you’ll need to open a command prompt in Administrator mode by right-clicking the command prompt and choosing Run as Administrator, and then run these commands to take ownership of the files, and then grant access to the administrators group:

takeown /f c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll

takeown /f c:\windows\system32\uxtheme.dll

takeown /f c:\windows\system32\shsvcs.dll

icacls c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll /grant administrators:F

icacls c:\windows\system32\uxtheme.dll /grant administrators:F

icacls c:\windows\system32\shsvcs.dll /grant administrators:F

Note: Whatever you do, don’t try and run takeown *.*, because taking ownership of every single file in the windows directory is going to cause all sorts of problems.

Now that you have taken ownership of the files, you can rename the files to *.old by running these commands:

ren c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll.old

ren c:\windows\system32\uxtheme.dll c:\windows\system32\uxtheme.dll.old

ren c:\windows\system32\shsvcs.dll c:\windows\system32\shsvcs.dll.old

Note: at this point you should be very careful to NOT RESTART your computer, because if you do so things will break.

Now you can copy the files that you downloaded and extracted into the system32 directory by running a command similar to this one (adjusting for wherever you extracted them to)

copy c:\users\geek\downloadedfileshere\* c:\windows\system32\

At this point you can now restart your computer.

How to Un-Patch Your System

If you want to reverse the process, you can simply remove the .dll files that you copied, and then rename the .old files back to .dll.

What To Do if You Have Problems

If you are having any problems, you should unpatch the system first, or can run System Restore to put the system back to normal. If you are still having problems, head over to our forums and ask your question there.

Where to Find Custom Visual Styles

If you want to download the custom theme from the first screenshot above, it’s called Ways of Light and can be found here.

One of the best places to find custom visual styles is deviantART:

Browse Vista Visual Styles on deviantART


This is one of my favorite themes:


Download the NEXTLevel theme.

How to Install a Custom Visual Style

When you download and extract a custom Visual Style, you’ll need to copy them into the C:\Windows\Resources\Themes directory, usually into a new folder:


You’ll want to make sure that the folder contains the visual style file within it, and not within a subdirectory of the theme folder:


Note: Some visual styles are structured incorrectly and will have problems. Read this post for more information.

Now that you’ve patched Windows and installed the theme, you need to open the Classic appearance dialog by right-clicking on the Desktop, choosing Personalize, then Window Color and Appearance. Then you can click the link at the bottom to open the classic appearance properties dialog:


Now you can choose the theme in the list. Note that some themes are based off the Window Aero theme and will show the same name, so if one is selected then just choose the other one. You’ll need to have Aero available in order to use a theme based on Aero, of course.


At this point you should be able to see your new custom themes. Enjoy!

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 05/7/08

Comments (115)

  1. doug

    Wow! Thats one helpful article. That dark theme is cool, i’ll have to install it once I get this working.

  2. AS

    Or if you are confused with all the themes showing “Windows Aero” name and not the custom theme name in color scheme list, just download this small VistaDeskHack utility which shows the theme name.

    More information here, from Original thread:

    Direct Download link:

  3. xenomex

    Pretty cool, but i don’t think i am willing to take the risk of troubleshooting my pc.
    But thanks for the tip, really helpful! :)

  4. The Geek


    Brilliant! I was just about to look into that myself, looks like you’ve saved me the trouble. :-)

  5. CyberLegionary

    and how do u check wich version of windows i have?
    i have VISTA ULTIMATE, fully updated version 64bits beause i use a core 2.. wich one should i pick?

  6. Twenty20

    You can check your Windows Vista Version (Build) by opening a command prompt, changing directory to C:\Windows and then type ver.exe

    This should give you the Version and Build # then you can choose the one you need.

  7. steelew

    This definitely works, I’ve used this on Vista home premium SP1 and XP pro SP3. I have been using my system (patched) since SP1 for vista came out, with no problems. I just patched XP SP3 last night so we’ll see. I just wanted to find out if SP3 makes you “Upgrade to IE 7”, good news it doesn’t. Deviant art is great for getting themes (vista) (XP).
    I go there daily my favorite Vista theme is
    If you need some new vista icons (for free) check me out
    happy theme-ing.

  8. AS

    @ The Geek
    Thanks, my pleasure.

  9. Jonathan


    I have followed your instructions and restarted my PC. It came up with a unlimited amount of messages saying uxtheme.dll was a older verision and the current could not be found in Vista’s system 32.

    After restarting this message appeared once and I have had a black screen for about 20 minutes now. There seemed to be activity for a good 10 minutes though

    Would it be safe powering off? Would any of the repairs be useful on the Vista CD which I had with the laptop?

  10. The Geek


    You likely used the wrong version when patching. You’ll need to reboot into safe mode and copy the original file versions back, or you could use system restore to put them back to normal.

  11. Jonathan

    Edit: Got back to stage one.

  12. Jonathan

    @ The Geek.

    I chose the SP1 AMD 64 file as my processor is a AMD Turion 64×2. Was this for 64 bit Windows instead? My version of Vista is 32 bit.

    Thanks for you help.

  13. The Geek


    You should be using the 32bit version of the file, since you are using 32-bit Vista. Make sure that you are also using SP1 if you are going to choose that version of the file.

  14. Jonathan

    @ The Geek

    Thanks for the help. I have tried the other file and it has succesfully restarted without any messages.

    I think I was just a little misled by the other file saying AMD in it.

    Thanks again for the help.


  15. Hugo

    Quick question to anyone reading this info.

    I “updated” the DLL files but now I don’t have sound on my computer.

    Anyone had that issue before ?


  16. Dennis

    I installed the takeownership utility and took ownership of the three .dll files, but i can not rename any of the files though, it says I need permission.?

  17. Dennis

    Sorry for posting again, is it because i am running 64bit windows and need to rename the .dll files in c:\windows\syswow64 instead of system32 folder?

  18. Josh

    “Note: Whatever you do, don’t try and run takeown *.*, because taking ownership of every single file in the windows directory is going to cause all sorts of problems.”

    I did this a while ago when I first got that “take Ownership” thing LOL

    I haven’t experianced many problems… any thoughts on long term affects?

  19. Dhraiden

    I had a problem with using the Vista SP I (not SP RC I or SP Beta I, just SP I) files from within windows with my Vista 64 bit system: I used the files from the .rar titled,



    OTHERWISE YOU WILL GET THE “explorer.exe was not able to start because uxtheme.dll was not” ERROR MSG AFTER YOUR RESTART, and you’ll have to boot off of your Vista DVD, enter the command prompt, and delete the patched files and rename the original files, dropping the *.old extension.

    Use this instead, NEVERMIND THE “AMD” in the title (I’m using an Intel 64 bit chip, the point it has to match your Vista OS):


    After going through what I described, I used that set of files instead, and Vista runs fine and I can use custom themes. WOO!

  20. Lost

    ok i’ve patched and tried out some of the new themes…but the problem is that i cant set the trancparecy !
    when i click on appearance and personalization, then windows color and appearance, it directly pops up the classical interface

    i am new with vista here so can anyone please help me out?

    2nd Q…is it possible to download more than one theme and try them out without deleting the old one? since we have to click on the same aero scheme


  21. jen

    hello, i want to change my desktop so im trying to self study the ways to using vista home basic 32 bit, can you please teach me how to choose the right patcher for my laptop?

  22. Shrink2One

    thanks for a nice article.

  23. Alex1971

    I have followed every instruction on this page. My PC works fine, I have 32-bit SP1, but everytime I download a theme and it is in it’s correct form, it still does not show up in my color scheme. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  24. !!!PLEASE HELP!!!

    Please help, I have Vista SP 1 32-bit OS (with AMD 64 processor), I downloaded the “XX” patch for Vista from the link in the tutorial (under Vista –> SP 1 –> XX or AMD64 XX on the Within Windows site, I did NOT download the AMD 64 version)

    I took ownership of the three .dll files, everything was going smoothly, I renamed them to .old, and then I tried to paste the new .dll files in.

    The problem is, the new .dll files are NOT showing up in my system32 folder, I tried pasting and dragging, it asks me for permission, I give it, and then the files do not appear.

    To be safe, I tried renaming my .old files back to .dll, but they won’t change back!

    Please help, I’m desperate to fix this without having to restore or restart!!!

  25. angelo621

    hello guys. thanks a lot. thank you. i did it. thanks to you guys. for all those who run vista 64 bit. try it and you will love the result. thanks

  26. iceman_rye

    hi there! thanks for the instructions but still im having problems with the themes. I’ve downloaded lots of visual styles already but still doesnt appear on the list. i followed all the procedures correctly. i even tried vistaglazz beta version before this and i have the same problem. It seems that it only recognizes “.theme” files and not “.msstyle” files.

    Please help! Thanks!

    Here’s my system:
    HP Laptop: Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit SP1; AMD Turion 64 X2 1.90Ghz; 1GB Memory;
    NVIDIA GeForce 8400M GS

  27. Kevin

    Hello, I am running a Windows Vista Premium edition SP1 and a 32-bit os I was wondering which one of the files I should use? Thanks~!

  28. Kevin

    Im having trouble installing themes but im sure I did everything up there correctly.

  29. Naveen_reloaded

    Hi there…

    the article is seriously awesome… but i have few doubts…

    1.) how to know which version the vista is ?? i tried using vista manager to see the version .. the close i can get is 6001 .. something…

    2.) how to select what version we should get … i mean the patch files..

    3.) tried to use Vista Glazz but when i ran it .. it said the files were corrupt or something… what should i do… ( this is actually after i initially tried to patch the files and did a restore .. )

    4.) big question now is … when i tried to patch uxtheme.dll file.. i kept on installing the old uxtheme.dll…

    say for example my default was 8001 , i tried to patch it with 7360 , but whenever i try to rename the file .. this default file kept on reappearing .. i was not able to patch that file… other two were ok…what should i do ??

  30. cmoore

    i need help, i save all my downloads in my downloads folder under my ‘Chris” folder, the one with all the pic, music, downloads, documents folder, would i type a c: before entering it in, should i skip spaces between one command and another, and also when i was keying in those first six commands you gave us in DOS, it looks like it copied but it says the syntex is incorrect, what do i do???

  31. jd2066

    @cmoore: I would recommend just using VistaGlazz to patch the files instead of this manual method. It’s faster and easier to do.
    You can get it at
    Note: You need to download the beta version if you Service Pack 1 installed.

  32. The Geek


    VistaGlazz is definitely easier, but loads of people have reported problems using it, even when using the right version. The manual method is the only one that is really reliable, even though it’s not terribly simple.

  33. luke

    THANKYOU you are ASOWM. your the only site that helped me out the way that would make the theme work. i would of never found anything as good as this. this is sweet as hell. it works and everything with no problems doing it too. your freekin good. THANK YOU

  34. Saul

    Thanks for posting “Patch Theme Files Using the Command Line.” You said it was just for completeness, but I actually couldn’t do it the normal way. If you hadn’t written how to do it with the command line, I would just be SOL. I still haven’t gotten a theme to work, though. I’ll let you know when I do.


  35. Saul

    I followed this link from above “Note: Some visual styles are structured incorrectly and will have problems. Read this post for more information,” and it worked great! I now have several beautiful visual styles to enjoy! All I have left to do is learn to make my own.

    Thanx a mil,

    P.S. For some reason, when I am using a custom theme, I cannot open my “connect to” window. If I do, I get an error message saying that Windows Explorer has stopped working. I can open it if I switch back to a default theme. I can then return to my new theme and continue normally.

  36. Jacob

    The link to the “within windows” won’t work it says owner has exceeded his bandwidth. Is there any way to install these themes without patching?

  37. brginga

    i then started to to do the patch on how-to geek, but instead of renaming the files to .old i kept copies of them and fully replaced the ones in the system32 directory, but when i proceed to replace it gives me the following error window:

    I know i have full ownership of these files, any other possible problems.
    O, and I am replacing the files instead of renaming them because renaming them did not work.
    Thanks in advance!

  38. Pula

    I have great respect for you.
    Thank you!

  39. Ben

    This worked great when I first booted up, so I was able to change back to the normal Vista Aero style from Windows Classic (long story) and at that time I had several of my downloaded styles in the list. Now however, there are only Windows Standard, Windows Classic, High Contrast Black, White, #1, and #2. This even happens if I open the .msstyles file directly. Any ideas?

  40. Plasma

    @brginga: try the Take Ownership option. What you described occurs when ownership hasn’t been passed from Windows to you.

  41. philippic

    my “friendly” comments:

    1) if you can’t tell if you’re running 32 or 64bit windows, then don’t try to hack your system for themes, it’s above your head.
    2) stop asking questions that are already answered in the comments section a month ago, again, if you can’t read for an answer that may already be there – don’t try to hack your system, it’s above your head.

    the article was researched and written by someone that took the time out of their lives in order to help others, very cool. and then there’s everyone else that helped answer others questions, very cool again. but it gets frustrating when you take that time and then you see the same question asked again and again…soon you wonder why in the world you wasted your time when no one pays any attention.

    thanks geek, the article was informative and right on, i followed the instructions months ago and had no problems and now i rotate themes every week, keeps things fresh. i appreciate your time.

  42. brandon

    ive been wondering this for a long time when trying to get custom themes on my vista home premium 32-bit

    does your computer have to be able to run aero to use custom themes?

    thanks for any feedback

  43. philippic

    ok, no – your computer does not have to be running aero in order to handle a theme. but you may want to pay particular attention to a theme before using it so that you aren’t disappointed. i’d have to say that most themese i’ve come across have built upon the aero thought and made it even better. the lower percentage has focused on non aero effects. what i’m trying to say i guess is that if the theme requires aero and you don’t have it, the effect won’t show on your computer and paying attention to the theme and your computer will help you from looking like an arse when you complain about the glass being white or whatever.
    reader’s digest:
    theme – yes
    aero effect theme – pointless
    non aero theme – good

  44. Mocooish

    has anyone seen a “royalFour” mod for vista (pref x64)?

    I just love that theme!

  45. Simes

    Pleas help. I’m using Vista (Home Premium) SP1. It won’t let me download this patch 6.0.6001.18000_XX.rar. I get a message saying it has failed due to an unknown error and that I should try saving the file and then open it…this doesn’t work either.
    I did manage to download another patch from a different website and then followed your instruction to the letter. When I applied a theme tho I got Windows Classic Taskbar etc!
    The take ownership program didn’t work for me either, it downloaded to registry but i don’t get the new options when I right click. Luckily I know how to Take Ownership manually.

  46. In A Pickle (Lol Xigbar)

    after doing all this and applying a windows 7 theme..i cant change my background, or custiomize colours. whenever i try from the control panel it says “Windows cannot find
    Make sure you have typed the name correctly and then try again.”

  47. Jay

    i used vista glazz to patch files and it appears to have worked, however when i install a custom theme in my system32 resource file and try to load it, the choose color scheme for the apperance does not show the custom themes… please help

  48. In A Pickle (Lol Xigbar)

    ok…it seems that i fixed the problem..but i forget how. :/
    i remember typing shell::::{26EE0668 in google.

  49. Ken Mason

    Unfortunately, this procedure doesn’t tell you that these files also exist in Vista x64 under Windows\SysWOW64. Since your procedure doesn’t tell what to do with THESE files, I don’t dare make any mods.

  50. Thxer

    Thank you for your help, much appreciated. Nobody mentioned how to install it! Maybe thats because I didn’t read the README.txt file!

  51. Jessica

    I have followed this tutorial up until the part where you right-click on the desktop and go to colour and appearances. when I go into colour and appearances, it does not give me the proper window with the link to ‘open classic appearance properties’. it simply takes me straight to the next step, and the areo theme is not on the list at all, even though It was installed in the resources folder. do you have any idea why its doing that?

  52. mika


    i followed the instruction step by step. i was able to switch themes using appearance settings. but theres this one problem. when i turned my computer back on i was stuck at the log on screen. i would type in my pass, it would load and then take me back to log in again. i decided to go to safe mode and take out the pass but it would still take me back to the same screen. theres no errors that pops up btw.

  53. eML

    IMPORTANT NOTE!: Before I could take the “Ownership” I had to right-click into every single file (themeui.dll OR uxtheme.dll OR shsvcs.dll) and in “porperties” I had to edit and mark “all” for security access (for the administrator group)

    Properities –> Security –> (mark your usergroup) –> edit –> (and mark all) –> OK

    First THEN I had full access to the .dll files… Just trying to help the others who probably have the same problem =)

  54. Stratos Nikolaidis

    I did everything by the book, I can load themes nice and easy.

    Only -big- problem is that when I reboot, the original aero theme is loaded and not the theme I have selected! Any help on this?

  55. Motzki

    Hi There!

    I don’t really know what i missed on your instructions, I seem to follow every step but my theme doesn’t seem to change. All i have are two copies of Aero and Vista Basic. Choose all of them and nothing changes. Can you tell me what went wrong?

  56. Mar

    Hi, i’m mexican and i think that you explain everything very easy,
    thanks for share all this advices!

  57. Ryan

    Worked perfect for me. just followed the instructions step by step. Have 64 bit vista. Pretty cool but alot of the cool themes require additional work.

  58. Mylos

    Thank you so much for the tute. Awesome and easy to follow!!!!

  59. Kevin

    Hey everyone i have a pretty big problem.
    I had tried doing this with Glazz and now i’m unable to open control panels (it opens a blank window then closes with in 10secs) also under system property’s it doesnt reconize any of the specs of the computer (say its a quad-core it will say N/A)
    I believe that Glazz must have done something to the .dll files cause i reversed the patch but its still ongoing.
    I’m wondering if i use this if it will fix the problems i’m having, or if anyone knows a way to fix this.
    Also i tried to restore to prior patch and it says there is no changes and wont restore.
    Thanks in advance

  60. mac4lyf

    i succesfully process this files:
    takeown /f c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll

    takeown /f c:\windows\system32\uxtheme.dll

    takeown /f c:\windows\system32\shsvcs.dll

    icacls c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll /grant administrators:F

    icacls c:\windows\system32\uxtheme.dll /grant administrators:F

    icacls c:\windows\system32\shsvcs.dll /grant administrators:F

    after this…. this commands wont work in command prompt..
    ren c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll.old

    ren c:\windows\system32\uxtheme.dll c:\windows\system32\uxtheme.dll.old

    ren c:\windows\system32\shsvcs.dll c:\windows\system32\shsvcs.dll.old

    saying “The syntax of the command is incorrect.” plis hels, sos……..

  61. Hareshkumar Shrimali

    Dear Sir , I have Windows Vista Ultimate installed as my O/s . To boost up speed of vista , according to suggestions in an Indian Magazine ” PC World , November Issue ” , page No. 96 , I did whatever instructed in the article to remove Aero Glass, Flip 3D, Transparency, Thumbnails of my windows ( open ) that appear when I hover mouse pointer over the Taskbar , as well as Flip 3D view you ger by pressing – . All these stuff of vista Ultimate disappeared . Now I wanna regain everything back, Flip 3D, Aero Glass, Thumnail, Transparency etc. I want them back. But when I open “Personalise appearance & sound task ” , in “Theme” settings , “Windows Vista ” disappeared . Is there any fulproof wayout to regain all stuff which was previously running very well , now no Flip 3D, Thumbnail, Aero Glass, all visual enhancement I lost . I tried Hard to regain it , but failed. Anybody help me out. I am an Indian .

  62. shawon

    Recently I use Windows Vista SP2 Home Basic(Install local DVD disk). But my system notify me i have only 15days to active to your windows. So i want a patch file like my previous OS(Vista SP1).

  63. shumayal

    @ The Geek

    Quote “cacls c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll /grant administrators:F

    icacls c:\windows\system32\uxtheme.dll /grant administrators:F

    icacls c:\windows\system32\shsvcs.dll /grant administrators:F”

    when i try typing these commands in the command prompt it says ‘invalid parameter”administrators:F”

    Please can iget an answer here because i get frustrated when i go thru forums

    THANKS ,

  64. John

    Dear Indian guy,

    If you happen to have a copy of the Indian PC World, November Issue, turn to page No. 96 and skip to the end of the article about boosting up the speed of Vista.
    REVERSE everything it suggests, point-by-point, until you reach the boring intro.
    Close your eyes and restart.
    Your Vista will now magically return to it’s original state with all the bells and whistles such as Flip 3D, Thumbnail, Aero Glass, and all visual enhancement you lost!!

    I helped you only because you are an Indian.

  65. shumayal

    what indian Guy ??? you think its me ? and what and where do i have to put the visual style file etc can any one mention them and alll the files directly to this C/windows/resources/themes

  66. Ramzy



    ren c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll.old

    Will yield the error “The syntax command is incorrect”. Once you define the path, it is not necessary to define it again. The correct command is be:

    ren c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll themeui.dll.old

  67. pheee

    download tuneup its the best u can change themes easyyy

    i know its a program but its worth it ^^

  68. Sam

    hey, i followed your tutorial and it worked great, i just have one issue, i went to the color and appearance menu, and click the view classic to apply a theme, and now it only brings up the classic view, i cant go back to the normal view no matter what i try, and i dont really want to go back to the restore point i made before doing all this :( any helpful ideas?

  69. Tom


    If you still can not edit/delete/rename/whatever your file, although you have edited it with “Take Ownership” just go to properties of this file and set down the user rights to full access manually!
    “Take Ownership” can just allow you to edit this access rights, so you have to edit them by yourself.

    File -> Properties -> Safety -> Advanced -> Edit -> Then set all right to “Full Access” -> OK…

    (Sorry, I have the german windows version, so I do not know how the buttons are named in the englisch version)

  70. Rocky

    hello sir,
    i follewed ur instruction and did not get any error but problem is that i still don’t get theme in dropdown button of theme list.
    plz help me…..

  71. sarvesh_massacre

    thnx for the tip mahn!!!1 it worked thnx…thnx a lot

  72. Lee Wallace

    there’s one problem that i’m running into. when i get to the RENAMING file(s) the path

    (ren c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll.old

    ren c:\windows\system32\uxtheme.dll c:\windows\system32\uxtheme.dll.old

    ren c:\windows\system32\shsvcs.dll c:\windows\system32\shsvcs.dll.old)

    when i type it in it says
    (C:\Users\Yuki>ren c:\windows\system32\shsvcs.dll c:\windows\system32\shsvcs.dll.
    The syntax of the command is incorrect.


    so i went online and typed (rename command in CMD) i got this ( * -Enter ren C:\LOCATION\test.txt testing.txt
    * -Now, test.txt has become testing.txt)
    and i tried that too nothing works now im stuck what do i do

  73. Thanks for this information, however, I have now gotten to the point of renaming the files to .old and am receiving the following message: The syntax of the command is incorrect

    How can I fix this, stuck, and cannot figure out how to get beyond this point.

  74. Dargel Napoles

    Followed this instructions and it worked for me.

  75. josh1

    Downloading the `move to/copy to` hack from this site for right click context menu helped me immensley to carry out the instructions after downloading the patches to place in the SYSTEM32 folder. Also to place UNPACKED themes in the THEME folder. No need to waste money on WindowBlinds that I was going to purchase…lol…thanx geek. Hope this helps someone.

  76. tarzan

    hi.. walked into a problem. i renamed the files to .dll into .dll.old but at the next step that i had to copy and paste the patched files into the system32 folder i run into a problem.i couldnt do this.the 3 files i couldnt get it done.

    normally thats should be easy to do. but when i want to drop them there my mouse arrow get a little red stopsign. anyone know whats the problem here i have windows vista 32bits premium home edition.

    thanks up front

  77. josh1
  78. deanmitc

    GEEK, I have patched Vista per your instructions and I have used the theme thatyou indicated is one of your favorites in the posting – the NEXTLevel theme. I love the theme but I have one problem with it and was hoping you or someone else could help resolve it. The theme is great, the window frames are black as they should be, but the window title in the upper left corner of the frame, which is supposed to be white lettering, is faded, blurry, faint, and illegible. Can this be corrected?

    Thanks for the help.

  79. Felicia

    Hi. I had the same problem with Jonathan. I had restarted my laptop and it came out the same message. When i log in to my account, it showed window.exe(etc) cannot be load, and i was to click on close program. I clicked on it and it showed a black screen. Is there any problem? Will my window show up? PLEASE HELP ME!

  80. Felicia

    Hi. My laptop is fine now. I did a system restore. thanks.

  81. Jaroslav

    Thanks, your patch works great!

  82. Hosein

    my hosein is Iran website is good

  83. xf0rg0tt3nx

    @The Geek

    I began to follow your steps, but when I got to the system32 folder, there was no “Take Command” on the drop-down list. Did I do something wrong, or is it just my computer?

  84. eve

    I follow every instructions but still cannot get it because it can only recognize .theme files. and i also very confirm i downloaded the correct version for .dll (i am using vista sp2, 32bit). i also tried with VistaGlazz, but the same thing happen (nothing change). i do not know what’s wtong with it. can please help me?

  85. mahmoud

    hi you all
    thanks for this useful tutorial
    i have windows vista x64, for those who doesn’t know where patch these files , in system32 or sysWOW64, the right place is system32, i did it and all thing is working fine,
    best regards

  86. Zwirni

    Thanx for the Tut, but on my machine I could not use the “Take Ownership” tool. I installed it but I can not rename the three dll’s.
    I think I will kick off the Visata and install W7.


  87. rafa

    hey please help i was trying to do the theme patch but i replaced incorrect dll files i rebooted then nothing it wont start up oviously for the replaced dll files but i did thAT SYSTEM RECOVERY BUT I HAVE A TOSHIBA SATELLITE AND THAT DOSENT PROMT ME ON SYSTEM RECOVERY AT THE BEGGINIG LIKE MY HP DOES HELP WHAT CAN I DO JUST TO ACCES THE HARD DRIVE AND ERASE THE DLL FILES AND RENAME THE OLD. FILES BACK SO I CAN GET IT RUNNI NG AGAIN PLEASW EMAIL ME

  88. Sigheart

    I’m running on:
    Windows Vista™ Home Premium
    Service Pack 2
    Intel(R) Pentium(R) Dual CPU 2390
    32-bit Operating System

    So.. May I know what patch from these must I use for this to work? Thanks.


    SP2 Beta

  89. SoIceyBoy

    can you un-patch the files or they stay patched? sorry if my quistion is noobish

  90. Mike

    Thanks for all the comments. I’m running Vista Home Premium SP2 and none of this works.

  91. Jake

    Worked perfectly. I went with the first method (gaining permission, renaming the .dlls, moving over the new ones and rebooting). After reboot, changed what I wanted to change with the theme I wanted, switched back to it, everything was great.

    Thanks again.

  92. Canned Caramel

    okay so imagine I do all this and get it working on SP1, what happens if i update to sp2 later on …..
    Im guessing the theme just wont work right, but everything else will still boot up and run correctly.

  93. David

    thanks so much, the first time i tried this i had problems and ended up reverting back to a restore point, but this has explained the steps in plain english. thanks, im currently running lightwave aero by webtrance and it looks fantastic!
    cheers, David

  94. Ken

    I tried inputting the ren c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll.old commands , but when I tried, it kept saying the syntax of the command is incorrect. I have the right file version. So…

    What is the deal here?

  95. Kay

    So I followed the instruction and restarted my computer, but it still doesn’t recognize visual style files :(
    Anyone got any idea what I did wrong? I have Windows Vista home basic with no service pack.
    Thank you in advance!

  96. anuser

    This is no complete,
    you must first stop theme service before doing that.
    sc stop uxtheme

    otherwise you will not BE ABLE TO CHANGE THOOSE FILES.


  97. NZStinger

    FANTASTIC! Those theme patches for my Vista Home Basic SP2 works perfectly! I can now even get themes with transparency. Oh by the way, Ways of Light with transparency looks very nice.

    If you’re a Home Basic user, to get the transparency in a theme thats named “Windows Vista Basic” and “Windows Vista Standard”, choose the “Standard”. The “Basic” disables transparency.

    Thanks again!

  98. Dillon

    Ok im lost now and i don’t see the point in continuing on trying to find a way for it to work. I somehow missed the part where i had to extract them and continued on with the next two stages until it didnt let me take ownership , i then noticed i forgot to unzip now i try to unzip and it tells me i dont have permission, this is doing my head in :s if u could help me that would be amazing.. :)


  99. Dro

    worked perfect thanks

  100. kishor

    Dear Sir,
    Iam a student so,I have a simple problem
    1) How to delete the Administrators password ? Plz sir respo…….. ok tack care.

  101. Astor

    Went down the list of instructions, but all i get is the windows classic theme. I see that others above have posted the same issue, but no one has made a reply to them.

  102. J-Spill

    Wow that sucked, I did it but i downloaded the 32bit, turns out my computer is a 64bit…..
    that was a shocker!
    Great tut tho

  103. somofomo

    helpfull but vista glass does all this automatically

  104. ferry

    Help me please, after copy 3 file & restart why doesn’t work? I can’t find enable transparany in Window Color and Appearance? thanks

  105. Kyle

    Thank you So Much I Love This Site Especcily the take ownership thingy migigy!

  106. PongPongDoThePongPong

    Thanx man! u made my day!

  107. Zead

    Guys please Help!

    I cant install the theme anymore. I followed the steps shown here and it worked for the first time. After a few days later, I wasn’t able to apply custom themes anymore. What has gone Wrong?


  108. Rachel

    Boy did I bork my system with this :-)

    Still, thank you, I learnt a frikken lot about troubleshooting. And as I used my second computer for this little experiment, and managed to get it working again, I am still happy.

    I suspect it was the system restore point step that caused the problems; and for everybody who finds themselves confronted with similar problems, here is what it took to fix the myriad of problems that remained after I had fixed the kernel problem:

    “all u need to do is ‘sfc /scannow’ in an elevated cmd console”

    “sfc stands for system file checker, scannow tells it to look for and replacing non default system files.”

    Not sure if posting URLs to other websites is okay here; just google “it’s a bit like a ‘get out of jail free’ card. comes in very handy if u get in deep quagmire” to find the original post.

  109. umar


  110. Jonathan

    y does my computer say “you need permssion to perform this action” when i try to rename the 3 .dll files? i am the admin on the computer

  111. Jonathan

    o nvm i forgot to take ownership

  112. Emily

    When I try to rename the new files to .old by using the command it tells me that “the syntax of the command is incorrect” I saw that other people had this problem too.. can you help?? I didp everything else fine I just can’t figure out how to do this so that it works?

  113. this is shit

    this is worst guide ever, doesnt even help. U CANNOT CHANGE VISTA THEME ANYMORE!!

  114. Danny Boy

    I typed in ren c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll c:\windows\system32\themeui.dll.old, but then it said…”the syntax of the command is incorrect”.What does that mean??

  115. Byrlyne

    Everything worked with my system, except in the color and appearance window all I see are multiple Aero and Classic themes. Has anyone tried using this VistaDeskHack utility? Any problems?

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