TweakHound's Super XP Tweaking Guide
Hey, tweaking ain't all about speed you know. Sometimes it is about making you desktop look cool too!
*There are many ways to customize the look of XP. Many of these ways involve hacking system files and using themes that may or may not be of questionable origin (meaning many of these could be potentially harmful to your computer). Don't get me wrong, some of these are very nice but the methods of applying them are not for the non-Geek. They are also beyond the scope of this article. For more info on these themes see the Neowin Forums - Customizing XP (in particular the "pinned" topics at the top).
There are only a few official, signed Microsoft themes. Signed means it requires no hacks to apply the theme.
Zune Theme (direct from Microsoft) (my favorite)
To install this just diuble-click on the file.
To install this download the file, extract it, and follow the instructions in the Read Me.text file.
Royal (at Softpedia) This is the theme included with XP Media Center Edition.
To install this download the file, extract it, and double-click the .exe file.
Changing you icons is a great way to customize your computer. There is a free application called IconTweaker that does a decent job but the process of changing the icons is a little more involved than the next non-free option. You can also do each icon individually but this is extremely tedious:
About all I use this for is to change drive icons.
Find icons at:
I prefer an application called IconPackager. It is a pay-for program. There are 3 ways to buy it: Just IP for $20, or as part of Object Desktop for $40, or as part of Object Desktop Ultimate for $70. See here for what the packages are: http://www.stardock.com/products/iconpackager/purchase.asp
Find IconPackager themes at:
Below is a sample of IconPackager in action. This is the Alpha1 IP which goes very nicely with the Zune Theme (above).
(click on the pic below for a full size image)
This is one of my favorite Windows add-ons. Download & Info
Find icons at: