Using a Windows 10 theme is the quickest way to customise your PC. A theme can contain custom sounds, wallpapers, color adjustments as well as other personalization tweaks. So far, Microsoft didn’t go crazy about letting us customise Windows 10 however we want. Sure, a lot of those restrictions were imposed for security reasons, but geeks will always find ways to tinker with how Windows looks and behaves.
Microsoft does not officially support 3rd party themes unless they are digitally signed by them. It’s somewhat understandable since people might embed them with malware and spread it across the internet. However, users have found ways to bypass Microsoft’s limitation and install third-party themes n Windows 10.
If you want to stay on the official site, I’m sorry to break it to you, but most Microsoft-supported themes are nothing short of boring. It’s true that the selection on their website got better lately, but they severely limit the customizations that can be done by UI designers. If you’re looking for something really special, independent design websites like DeviantArt have superior Windows 10 themes in terms of aesthetics.
Are you in the market for a customized Windows 10 theme? Then you got some choices to make. You either stay official and install a Microsoft theme, or you take the long route modify your computer to allow the installation of non-Microsoft themes. Keep in mind that Microsoft themes are extremely easy to install, while 3rd party themes will require you to take extra steps with a minimal amount of risk.
To make it easier for you, we created two guides below that will cover both the official(Method 1) and the unofficial way(Method 2). Let’s see how you can customize your Windows 10 look.
How to Install Microsoft Themes on Windows 10
If you’re after the quickest way of installing a Windows 10 theme, Microsoft has hundreds of different options neatly grouped into intuitive categories. You can browse all of them by visiting this website. The installation is extremely easy, but here’s a quick guide, just in case you get confused:
- Visit Microsoft’s website and browse for a theme. Don’t settle for just the Featured themes category, as a lot of good themes aren’t present there. If you use a dual monitor, select a theme from the Panoramic category.
Note: Keep in mind that this website is exclusively designed for Window 10 themes. Installing them on an older Windows version won’t work.
- Once you decide on a theme, click the Download button under it and wait for the process to complete.
- Open the .themepack file and wait for the theme to unpack.
- Now right-click anywhere on your desktop and click Personalize.
- Go to Themes, click on the theme that you’ve just unpacked and click Use Custom Theme.
That’s it. The Microsoft theme you previously downloaded is active.
Note: Another way to apply a Microsoft-certified theme is to go to Settings > Themes and click on Get more themes in the Store (under Apply a theme). This will open up a Microsoft Store window with a limited selection of Windows 10 themes. But the theme selection in Microsoft Store is very limited when compared to the first method.
How to Install Non-Microsoft Themes on Windows 10
If you want to apply third-party themes, you’ll need to patch your system first. The DeviantArt community is filled with fancy third-party themes, but they are not as easier to install. To use them, you’ll have to spend a few minutes tinkering with your system.
Keep in mind that tinkering with system files can be dangerous and precaution methods should be taken. In order to eliminate every potential risk, we strongly advise you to start this process by creating a system restore point. If something goes terribly wrong, you’ll be able to save your Windows installation with minimal effort.
The software used to modify the stuff required to allow 3rd party themes is called UltraUXThemePatcher. The good news is, the software has reached a stage where it’s stable for the vast majority of users. The installer will automatically back up the original system files. So if anything goes wrong after the installation, uninstalling UltraUXThemePatcher will revert your system to the original behavior.
Note: Installing this application might lead to unexpected problems that might not be resolved by uninstalling UltraUXThemePatcher. To eliminate this risk, I strongly advise you to start with Step 1 where we create a system restore point.
Step 1: Creating a System Restore Point
- Access the search bar in the bottom-left corner. Search for “restore” and click on Create a Restore point.
- Under System Protection, click on Create.
- Name your restore point and click on Create.
- Wait until the restore point is created. Do not start with Step 2 until the process is complete.
Step 2: Compatibility Checks
Before you let UltraUXThemePatcher modify important system files, it’s extremely important to verify if the software is compatible with your Windows version is supported. Here’s what you need to do:
- Press Windows Key + R, type “winver” and press Enter.
- Find out your Windows 10 version. You can leave the About window open for further references.
- Visit this link, go to the About section and see if your version of Windows 10 is supported by UltraUXThemePatcher. If it is, you can proceed safely to Step 3.
Step 3: Installing UltraUXThemePatcher
- Visit this link and download the latest version of UltraUXThemePatcher. Scroll down to the Download section and download the latest version.
- Right-click on the UltraUXThemePatcher executable and click on Run as Administrator.
- Follow through with the installation instructions, then hit the Install button.
- Reboot your system to allow the changes to take effect.
Step 4: Using 3rd party Windows themes
Now that you’ve successfully patched your system files, you can use 3rd party themes from websites like DeviantArt. Some premium themes are paid only, but you can find a decent amount of freebies. Here’s a quick guide on how to apply them to your system:
- Download a 3rd party theme from a website like DeviantArt. Keep in mind that most custom 3rd party themes will only work on certain Windows 10 builds. Before you apply it to your system, check out the Description section to find if yours is supported.
- Unpack the theme and make sure to copy the folder specifically designed for your Windows 10 build.
- Paste the theme folder in C:\ Windows \ Resources \ Themes.
- Now, right-click an empty space on the desktop, select Personalize > Themes and scroll down just under Apply a theme. You should be able to see the 3rd party theme.
- Select the theme, then click on Use custom theme to enable it on your system.