TweakHound's Super XP Tweaking Guide

The Look

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).

Themes

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.

zune theme

Istartedsomething - Royale Noir: secret XP theme uncovered

To install this download the file, extract it, and follow the instructions in the Read Me.text file.

royal noir

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.

royal



WindowBlinds

This is a pay-for program. There are 3 ways to buy it: Just WB for $20, or as part of Object Desktop for $40, or as part of Object Desktop Ultimate for $70. More info at the WindowBlinds Page.
Here is an example of WindowBlinds in action. This is the Gizmo theme (click on the pic below for a full size image).
Find WindowBlind Themes at Wincustomize.
Find WindowBlind Themes at DeviantArt.
(make sure they are XP themes)
gizmo thumb

Icons

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:

How to Change the Default Icons for Folders in Windows XP

IconTweaker

About all I use this for is to change drive icons.

Find icons at:

DeviantArt - Icontweaker packages

DeviantArt - .ico files

CrystalXP.net

icontweaker

IconPackager

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:

Wincustomize

DeviantArt

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)

alpha1 thumb

RocketDock

This is one of my favorite Windows add-ons.  Download & Info

rocketdock

Find icons at:

RocketDock.com

DeviantArt

Other Links:

Personalize your system with Windows XP

 

 

 

 

Software I Use

t12009

I use True Image 2011 for all my OS backups and Disk Director 11.0 for all my partitioning requirements.

TweakHound readers often get a discount off Acronis Products. Check the links for more info.

acronis disk director