Changing your desktop theme. Pt. 1

When you boot a new PC up for the first time, or right after a clean install of Windows XP, you are usually stuck with the usual default look.  Lets be perfectly honest, it’s boring, it looks like everyone else’s, it’s just not your style, right?

Is this what it looks like?  Probably, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.  You can make your Windows desktop look the way you want it to!  I’m going to run through the basics of turning that standard XP desktop into something that’s not only great to look at, but can make you more productive as well.  We will do this by using Stardocks Object Desktop , which is a suite of desktop enhancement utilities designed to maximize your Windows experience.

I always start first by loading up Windowblinds and changing the visual style of Windows XP.  Windowblinds will change the borders, start button, start menu, task bar, and almost every other part of the Windows user interface.  Windowblinds includes several skins for you to use, but I would recommend heading over to where you can download some of the best skins for Windowblinds.

After you install Windowblinds you will see the Configuration window as shown below.

Now just browse through the list of skins and select the one you want to use.  Some skins have sub-styles, which could include variations in colors for that skin, or possibly the use of a compact menu design.  Just select the skin you want and click “Apply this skin now”.  You should now notice a big difference in the appearance, but there’s more to do.

While you are still in Windowblinds Configuration, click “Wallpapers” under Settings. 

Here you will be able to change the desktop wallpaper, and you can even set it to change every morning if you like.  Click the wallpaper settings, and you can add  the folders where you keep your wallpapers at.  From there you can also access more options such as changing wallpapers at different intervals.    Since we are approaching the holiday seasons, I chose one of my favorite “winter” wallpapers.

I’m already noticing a big improvement so far, but we are not done yet.  Now let’s change those default XP icons.

The next step is to use IconPackager.  It is included in the Object Desktop suite as well as Windowblinds.  IconPackager will allow you to change nearly all the Windows icons by applying “packages” of icons. 

Open Iconpackager, select the package you want to use, click load, then OK.  Your icons should change to match the package you selected.  What an improvement, huh?

Now we have done three simple things to change the appearance of our desktop.  Now these programs also have some advanced features, but I wanted to stick to basics for people who are just starting out. 

So here is our result.

Looks like a great improvement to me!  Remember you can customize your desktop with the skins, wallpapers, icons, etc. that you like.  In the next part I will discuss how to change your cursors, and how to add a dock to clear up some clutter on the desktop, and several other enhancements.  Visit the links below to find out more information about the products we used.  Windowblinds and Iconpackager are part of the Object Desktop suite by Stardock.


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