Desktop Theme Installer


Desktop Theme Installer

What's a desktop theme?

A desktop theme is a collection of desktop attributes--colors, mouse pointers, sounds, wallpaper, and so on--that create a "theme" for your desktop. Windows 95 (with Plus! installed), Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows XP, and Windows NT 4.0 (with add-on theme support installed) provide support for desktop themes. Please read this additional information if you are using Windows 2000.

Caution: you should be careful when installing any kind of software, including desktop themes. Be certain that you trust the source of this Zip file. Do not install anything contained in a Zip file that was attached to an unexpected or suspicious e-mail message. See Security Hints and Tips for additional information.

Windows users have contributed a wide variety of themes that you can obtain, usually at little or no cost, from online sources such as the Internet or AOL. Most commonly these are packaged in Zip files as a collection of components, often lacking a Setup program for installation. Without a Setup, themes can be somewhat difficult to install--but WinZip's® desktop theme installer makes it easy.

The WinZip desktop theme installer

If WinZip determines that the open Zip file contains a desktop theme, the Install button is enabled and you will be able to use it to install your theme. Simply click the Install button or choose Install from the Actions menu and follow the screen instructions. Note: if the Install button isn't enabled, see the notes below; the desktop theme installer may be turned off.

After WinZip has extracted the necessary files to the correct folders, it will run the system theme installer (normally Themes.Exe) to complete your installation. Here you can preview many of the changes, such as color, desktop icons, and wallpaper, provided by the theme designer. (Under some versions of Windows you may need to first select the new theme from the list of available themes in the Theme drop-down list.) If you like the theme, just click Apply and Themes will convert your desktop to the new theme. If you don't like the theme, click Cancel and your desktop will be unaffected. Consult your Windows documentation or help for more information about the theme installation program.

If you use the WinZip Wizard, the Wizard will automatically lead you through theme installation when you unzip a Zip file that contains a theme.

Please read this additional information if you are using a third party theme installer.


Here are some additional notes regarding desktop theme installation.

  • A desktop theme is defined by a Desktop Theme File (.Theme extension), which must be contained in the Zip file. WinZip assumes that any Zip file that contains a file with a .Theme extension is a desktop theme Zip file. The Desktop Theme File identifies the various components of the theme and specifies exactly where they are to be located. Because the files must be stored in the folders defined by the Desktop Theme File, WinZip does not provide you with an option to specify the folders to which the theme should be extracted. It does, however, show you what folders will be used and allows you to cancel installation if desired.
  • Microsoft has not documented the format of .Theme files. The WinZip Desktop Theme Installer is designed to work with .Theme files as used by the current version of Microsoft's THEMES.EXE (4.0). It is possible that Microsoft may change the format of .Theme files or other aspects of desktop theme support and that, as a result, WinZip will no longer be able to support desktop theme installation. Current information about desktop theme compatibility issues can be found on our web site at
  • Some desktop theme Zip files contain more than one theme. When this is the case, WinZip allows you to choose which theme to install.
  • If you would prefer to install your desktop theme manually, choose Unzip only in the "Unzip/Install Desktop Theme" panel. Alternatively, you can disable the theme installer by choosing Configuration from the Options menu, clicking the Miscellaneous tab, and unchecking the box labeled Desktop theme/screen saver installer. This disables both the theme installer and the screen saver installer.
  • We have found that many free desktop theme Zip files obtained from online sources are missing some components (such as cursors or sound files). In some cases, filenames are simply misspelled in the Desktop Theme File; in others, components were omitted from the Zip file. This does not necessarily mean that the themes are unusable, just that they are incomplete. Before it extracts any files, WinZip will show you which components, if any, are missing from the theme package.
  • A small percentage of free desktop themes simply do not work at all, for various reasons. Unfortunately, WinZip Computing, Inc. cannot offer support in getting malfunctioning desktop theme packages to work; please contact the theme's author or supplier instead. (But don't let this discourage you--there are many excellent free theme packages available!)
  • WinZip supports desktop themes only when they are packaged in Zip format. It cannot install themes from other archive formats (ARJ, LZH, etc.).
  • If the Zip file contains a SETUP or INSTALL program, WinZip will use the standard software Install feature rather than the desktop theme installer.