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Change Vista's Visual Style with hacked system files

Posted March 2007 by Steve Sinchak

Changing the visual style of Windows is something that has become very popular over the years with Windows XP.  In Windows Vista, this is just starting to gain momentum with the release of a few cool hacked visual styles. These alternative visual styles are replacements for the default Aero glass style and offer slight tweaks on the design.  Over time there will be more and more higher quality visual styles released for Windows Vista.

If you want to get started, you will need to download the hacked visual style skinning engine files from Rafael Rivera’s  site.  Rafael has both x86 and x64 versions available. These modified system files remove the requirement for visual style files to be digitally signed by Microsoft.  If you need help replacing the system files with the modified files, check out my article on working with system files in Windows Vista.

UPDATE: There is now an automated utility that allows you to patch your visual style skinning engine files with just one click. Click here to check it out.

Make sure you replace all three hacked system files:

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

After the skinning engine’s files have been replaced and you have rebooted, you are ready to get started installing third-party visual styles.

Check out these sites for Windows Vista Visual Styles:

Make sure that you download visual styles that are for Windows Vista.  XP visual styles will not work in Vista!

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