Amazing Windows 8 Themes You Need To See

Amazing Windows 8 Themes You Need To See

windows 8 themesWindows has always had an active community of enthusiasts who customize everything about it, including its desktop theme. Although Microsoft tries to prevent this, Windows 8′s desktop can be themed just like Windows 7′s. We’ve covered tweaking your Windows 8 PC’s appearance before, but you can go much farther than just changing the desktop theme’s colors.
Many of these Windows 8 themes also include custom desktop backgrounds and icons that you can use if you like them. They don’t just change your desktop’s colors — they change the look of the window buttons, the appearance of interface elements like buttons, menus, checkboxes, and much more.

How to Install and Use Desktop Themes

Like previous versions of Windows, Windows 8 doesn’t support third-party desktop themes out of the box. You’ll need to patch some system files. This isn’t is scary as it sounds — all you need to do is download and run UltraUXThemePatcher. You’ll be prompted to reboot your computer after running the installer.

You can now download and install third-party themes, which have the .theme file extension. To install them, place them in the C:\Windows\Resources\Themes directory on your computer. They’ll appear in the standard theme window — right-click the desktop and select Personalize to view your installed themes and switch between them. They’ll appear in the Installed Themes section. You can also double-click a theme’s .theme file to apply it once it’s installed.

windows 8 themes

Note that many of the themes below also include icons, which must be installed separately. Some themes include other system modifications, such as Ribbon Disabler, which disables the new ribbon in the File Explorer. Such themes will look ugly if you don’t disable the ribbon, as they don’t change its appearance at all. Read the theme’s readme file or download page for further instructions on setting up each specific theme.
Some themes also include custom Start button images, which can be used by Start8 and other Start menu replacements for Windows 8.


Base uses a dark taskbar and window borders along with light main area, drawing attention to the content of your windows. It also includes a variety of high-quality background images for your desktop wallpaper, which rotate automatically by default.

microsoft windows 8 themes


Simplex offers a simple, light theme with minimal window buttons. It requires a third-party tool that makes its window borders transparent, offering transparencies that aren’t possible on Windows 8 without such third-party hacks.

microsoft windows 8 themes

Royale 8

Royale was a Microsoft-created theme for Windows XP. If you miss that Windows XP look, you may want to try Royale 8, a port of this Microsoft-designed theme to Windows 8. It’s not as easy to create themes that mimic Windows 7 or Windows Vista because Microsoft removed the code that allows for Aero-style transparency.

microsoft windows 8 themes


Many theme-creators create themes that mimic other operating systems, bringing foreign looks to the Windows desktop. Platinum is a pack of themes inspired by Mac OS X. If you prefer that Mac look but find yourself using Windows 8 for some reason, give one of these themes a try. It also offers OS X-style icons, which you can choose to install.

themes on windows 8

Work for Windows 8

Work for Windows 8 is another theme with dark window borders. Unlike Base, it uses more gray colors and gradients, reducing the contrast between the borders and content. It ships with a flat-color background, emphasizing that the Work theme is for getting down to work.

themes on windows 8


WhiteDior is one of the more popular themes available. It’s very high-contrast, offering almost solid-white window themes paired with a black taskbar and a black line at the bottom of each window. The minimize and maximize buttons are invisible until you mouse-over them, which demonstrates just how aggressively minimalist this theme is.

themes on windows 8


areao4.8 has a slate-colored taskbar and titlebar along with bright blue window buttons. It uses a gray background with bright blue elements for its content areas, and even bundles a set of included icons that fit the theme. Like Base, it includes rotating wallpaper images.



The Glow theme offers a brighter theme with more use of white and gray gradients, contrasting with many of the darker themes available for Windows 8.



Some people just like dark themes. If you’re one of them, give Dark8 a try. It’s different from the other dark themes above because it goes full-on dark, replacing even the typically-white content areas with dark backgrounds and gray text. It’s definitely not for everyone, but some people will love it.

windows 8 themes

Finding More Desktop Themes

You can find many more Windows 8 themes in deviantART’s Windows 8 Utilities section. This section also includes a wide variety of other user-created customizations for Windows 8.
Windows 8 and previous versions of Windows can also use customized mouse cursors if you feel like tweaking your Windows 8 desktop even more.
Have you found any other awesome desktop themes for Windows 8? Leave a comment and share them!


MakeUseOf Recommends


Alternative File Managers for Windows 8

Sometimes you just want a simple clean file manager without the favorites, and extras of Windows File Explorer. There are many options. For that matter even Windows 7 File Explorer is similar in this regard. Below is a great article on other file managers to use. I enjoy xplorer2 lite, and there are several other good ones. Enjoy.

Windows Explorer is a reasonable selection for simple file management activities. A question I ask myself is what happens when I want any customization, tabbed browsing panes, or simply more options? That is when I look at one of the great free Explorer alternatives out there today.
The Explorer that now comes bundled with Windows 7 is a substantial improvement over the version available in Windows XP. It still lacks many of the powerful features in the choices below but is nonetheless, a marked improvement.
xplorer2 lite One of the most popular in this category is xplorer2 lite. It offers similar features of a paid program called Directory Opus and is completely free. As a bonus, its user interface is very similar to Windows Explorer, so most users will find this tool easy to learn and use.
The lite version supports dual panes and folder tabs, and shares the same desktop browsing and file management engine as the Pro version.
XYplorerFreeXYplorerFree is another strong contender. It uses a tabbed view rather than a two-pane view which is better when working with multiple folders though not quite as efficient as the two-pane approach when working with only two.
XYplorerFree is packed with features including one of the best file-finders I've seen. It's one of those products that impresses more with use. In fact, I suspect that if you use it for a month then you'll end up using it permanently. Unfortunately, the free version of this program has been discontinued, but the last free version that was released (v5.55) can still be found on various unofficial sites.
FreeCommanderSome folks just love FreeCommander, a classic two-pane Norton Commander style manager, with a tabbed interface and other features such as, optional tree view for each panel, built-in file viewer, archive handling, FTP client, file splitting, calculation of folder size, folder synchronization, etc.
It's certainly powerful but I find the interface a little dated. However, it's free for both private and commercial use and that's a big plus.
CubicExplorer is a file manager which aims to replace Windows Explorer. Its goal is to be easy and pleasant to use but still have enough power for more advanced usage."  That is a quote from Cubic Reality, the producer of CubicExplorer, and accurately sums up the product.
CubicExplorer offers only a single listing window interface but makes good use of tabs which can be easily opened and closed and sets of tabs can be saved to open with the application. Overall it is very appealing visually, with a clean, nicely laid out interface.  Themes and skins can be applied to easily change the appearance. The product is actively developed.
A tree view called Folders is only one of several "panels" that can be activated.  Bookmarks, which can be easily managed are in another useful panel. A very clever Filter panel permits quick selection, by checkbox, of file and folder types within the current directory. A Quickview panel will display graphic images.
The toolbars can be customized and rearranged easily. Toolbars and panels can be detached and made to float apart from the main window; I'm not sure whether or not that I view that as a desirable feature.  Double clicking in the listing window will cause it to go up one directory level, a feature that I have really come to appreciate in some other file managers.
A feature lacking in CubicExplorer is saving view settings by directory, the way that Windows Explorer does. If you change to a list or detail view, for example, the view will remain that way as you navigate through directories. The only help available is on the web site, though the application is so easy to use and configure, you will likely not need any help.
I found the window management a bit flaky. The Folders panel always appears as an undocked window and I found it rather difficult to dock. CubicExplorer crashed a couple of times while I was moving windows around.  The author doesn't publish any information about supported platforms. I evaluated it using Windows XP 32 bit.

Q-Dir Main screenIf you find that you keep many Explorer windows open at the same time, you should take a look at Q-Dir. Q-Dir offers one capability beyond the others, four simultaneous windows, a feature termed Quadro-View by the author. A toolbar across the top of the screen permits instantly selecting virtually any combination of 1, 2, 3 or 4 file listing windows. Additionally, each window can have any number of tabs.
A tree view can be enabled. It can be either a single tree view, on the left side, or a tree view for each displayed listing window. Similarly, the address bar has choices of no address bar or one at the top or one for each list window. It has a very nice ability to create and manage Favorite folders, offers a file preview window and even a small, built-in magnifier.
Q-Dir has a very small disk footprint, seems to be very fast and is simple to use. Besides the Quadro-View mentioned earlier, it lacks some of the more advanced features available in other offerings in this category. The configuration is mostly limited to window arrangement. The toolbars are appropriately compact, but cannot be customized.
Q-Dir seems to be actively developed and supported. It is available in many different languages.  Supported operating systems include everything from Windows 98 through to Windows 7 with separate 32 bit and 64 bit versions available. The installation offers a choice of a portable installation in addition to a standard install. It will execute nicely by simply copying the program into a folder.
Other File Managers to be reviewed:
These File Mangers were brought up in the user comments section. I'm currently reviewing them. Please be patient.
File managers that were written as 32-bit applications will generally work on 64-bit Windows, but functionality will be limited in two ways:
  • Shell extensions (i.e., file context menu entries) of 64 bit applications won't appear in a 32 bit file manager.
  • 32-bit file managers will not be able to access the "system32" directory of a 64 bit Windows installation, they will be deflected to the "sysWOW64" directory instead.
Related Products and Links
You might want to check out these articles too:

My Review of Alternative File Managers

I ran my own review of alternative file managers and recommend 4, which are simple, show the folder size, and offer integration with my IrfanView Graphic Viewer and 7Zip archive manager. All these work in Windows 8 64bit. I liked xplorer2, Explorer++, CubicExplorer, and FreeCommander XE. See screenshots below.

xplorer2 v.1.65 lite - simple, clean, and fast



FreeCommander XE


Windows 8.1 To Be Released - New Features

Windows 8.1 (Windows Blue) New Features

Posted April 3, 2013 – 7:40 pm in: Windows 8 Guides
Up until a couple of days ago, we all only new that Microsoft is working on the next release of Windows, codenamed Windows Blue. Over the last weekend, a pre-release of build of Windows Blue (build number 9364) leaked to the web, revealing new features and options so far included in the update.

Windows Blue New Features4

A number of sources have already revealed that the final build of Windows Blue will officially be called as Windows 8.1 and would be available as a free upgrade for Windows 8 users. The official public preview build is expected to arrive in late June 2013.
Windows enthusiasts who can’t for the official preview build and want to know more about the new features and improvements in Windows Blue or Windows 8.1 can go through the below list of features and screenshots.

Following are some of the key new features and improvements in Windows Blue (Windows 8.1):

Resizable Start scree tiles: In Windows 8, you could choose between two different sizes for tiles on the Start screen. Microsoft has enhanced this feature and Windows Blue allows you choose from four different sizes for tiles on the Start screen, including an extra large size for the Desktop tile.

Windows Blue New Features1

Slide to shutdown: In Windows 8, one of the annoying thing was the location of the shutdown option. But in Windows Blue, you can easily perform shutdown operation with a touch gesture or click. When on desktop, slide-down from the upper-right edge of the screen towards the bottom to see slide-to-shutdown option. 

Windows Blue New Features8

This feature isn’t fully functional in the leaked build (build 9364) but you can either double-click or create a shortcut to slidetoshutdown.exe file located in System32 folder to experience this feature.

New Modern Settings: The Modern Control Panel or PC Settings has been updated with a plethora of options, mostly imported from the legacy Control Panel. The PC Settings now includes settings for power, display, autoplay and more.   

Windows Blue New Features11
Windows Blue New Features5

Internet Explorer 11: Windows Blue ships with the next version of Internet Explorer with Tab Sync feature. Even though, there is no additional information available on the features, you can expect better security and browsing performance.

Snap apps side-by-side: Just like the desktop programs, you can now snap two Modern apps side-by-side to work on two apps simultaneously. Windows Blue also allows you open up to four Modern apps on the same screen.

Windows Blue New Features9

Automatic app updates: Windows 8 automatically checks for updates for installed apps but doesn’t automatically update apps to the newest version. Windows Blue or 8.1 comes with an option to automatically download and install app updates.

Windows Blue New Features6

More built-in apps: Along with Calendar, Mail, People, and some other apps that are part of Windows 8, Windows Blue also ships with some additional native apps such as Calculator, Sound Recorder, Alarm Clock, and Movie Moments. The final build will likely include more new apps.

Windows Blue New Features3
Windows Blue New Features2

Vertical scrolling on Start screen: Windows 8 allows you perform only horizontal scrolling on the Start screen. But in Windows Blue, one can perform both horizontal as well as vertical scrolling on the Start screen. The vertical scrolling can be used to switch from the Start screen to view all installed apps. 

Windows Blue New Features10

SkyDrive integration: Windows Blue lets you view your SkyDrive storage use and also enables you backup your OS settings and app data to your SkyDrive automatically. Options are also present to save files to SkyDrive by default, automatically upload a copy of photos and videos to your SkyDrive account.

Windows Blue New Features7

Modern File Manager: While there are plenty of free File Manager apps available in Windows Store, Windows 8.1 includes an official Modern File Manager. The Modern File Manager lets you perform all operations that you perform from File Explorer or Windows Explorer. 


Did You Know Windows 8 Has a Built-In Time Machine Backup?

Did You Know Windows 8 Has a Built-In Time Machine Backup?

windows 8 time machine

We sometimes forget with all the focus on Windows 8′s new “Modern” interface, but Windows 8 has a variety of great desktop improvements. One of them is File History, a built-in backup feature that functions similarly to Apple’s much-loved Time Machine. Enable the Windows 8 “time machine” File History, and Windows will automatically back up your files to an external or network drive. You’ll be able to restore previous versions from these backups, whether you’ve deleted a file or you just want to recover an old version of a file.
File History requires a removable hard drive or network share, as it can’t save files on your main Windows drive. This ensures that, even if your main Windows hard drive dies, your File History backup drive will still have copies of all your important files. This feature essentially replaces the Windows 7 backup feature in Windows 8 – the Windows 7 backup tools are still present so you can use them if you want, but Microsoft considers them outdated.

Enabling File History

You can open the File History control panel by pressing the Windows key, typing File History at the Start screen, selecting the Settings category, and clicking the File History shortcut that appears.

windows 8 time machine

Connect an external hard drive to your computer and click the Turn On button to enable File History. You can also click the Select drive option in the sidebar to select the exact drive Windows should copy previous versions of files to. Using the Select drive screen, you can optionally set up File History using a network share instead of a hard drive connected directly to your computer.
Windows will save copies of the files in your libraries, desktop, contacts, and favorites to this location.

time machine on windows 8

After clicking Turn On, you can choose to “Recommend this drive to members of your homegroup.”  This will automatically share it with computers in your Homegroup so they can use it as a network backup location for File History.
After you turn it on, you’ll see an indication that it’s saving copies of your files.

time machine on windows 8

It’s that simple – Windows will now automatically save copies of your files every hour. If you disconnect your removable hard drive or the network share becomes inaccessible for a period of time, Windows will create a local cache of files to save on the drive when you next connect it.
You can customize the frequency of saving, size of this local cache, and other settings by clicking the Advanced settings link in the sidebar.

time machine on windows 8

Excluding & Including Specific Folders

You can exclude specific folders and entire libraries by clicking the Exclude folders link in the sidebar of the File History control panel. Add folders and libraries you want to exclude from file history backups. For example, if you have many large video files in your Videos library and you don’t care about backing them up, you can exclude your Videos library to save space.

windows 8 backup

Bear in mind that only files in certain folders – your libraries, desktop, contacts, and favorites – will be backed up. To force another folder to be backed up, you can simply add it to one of your libraries.
From within File Explorer, select a library and click the Manage library button on the ribbon. Add any folders you want backed up to the library.

windows 8 backup

Restoring a File

Whether you’ve accidentally deleted a file or want to restore it to a previous version – perhaps you’ve saved over the original document – you can now get the file back from your File History backup.
You can get started with this in several ways:
  • Open a File Explorer window, navigate to the folder that contained the file, and click the History button on the ribbon to view a history of files in that folder.
  • Open a File Explorer window, select a file, and click the History button to view previous versions of that specific file.
  • Click the Restore personal files link in the File History Control Panel.
windows 8 backup

You can use the arrows at the bottom of the window to switch between backups taken at specific times and choose the version of the file you want. After selecting a file, click the green Restore button at the bottom to restore the file to its original location.

windows 8 time machine

Your file will be restored. If it would overwrite an existing file, Windows will ask you what you want to do
Have you made use of the Windows 8 “time machine” File Backup yet, or do you prefer another backup solution? Leave a comment and let us know!



Pick from hundreds of Microsoft Windows 8 Themes

Quick Tip: Pick from hundreds of themes in Microsoft's Personalization Gallery

Takeaway: Microsoft has released a myriad of themes from their Microsoft Download page, which are now available in a central location.

If you were using the Windows operating system in the Windows 95 and Windows 98 time frame, then you remember the Microsoft Plus! and the Microsoft Plus! 98 products. While these products contained a variety of add-ons, such as games and additional utilities, the primary feature in these packages were the desktop features which allowed you to change the look and feel of Windows by selecting various themes, which included wallpapers, color schemes, screen savers, and sounds.
Over the years, Microsoft has released a myriad of themes from their Microsoft Download page. And while there have been a lot of them, they were released sporadically and hidden among lots of other downloads. Fortunately, Microsoft recently modernized its delivery system, called it the Personalization Gallery, and created a centralized location for a huge collection of Windows Themes and Desktop Backgrounds, thus making it easy for you to customize your Windows 7 or Windows 8 system. Here’s how it works.

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Get personal

To get started, just point your browser to the Personalization Gallery. When you arrive, you’ll discover that there are separate areas for the Windows Themes and Desktop Backgrounds, as shown in Figure A. The Windows Themes packs are only designed for Windows 7 and Windows 8 while the Desktop Backgrounds can be used in all versions of Windows.

Figure A

There are two separate areas-one for the Windows Themes and one for the Desktop Backgrounds.

Windows Themes

When you click the See all themes link, you’ll see a page that displays a huge list of theme categories as well as the newest themes available, as shown in Figure B. Just select a category and you’ll see a host of themes. When you see one that interests you, just click the Details button to get more information.

Figure B

There are plenty of categories to choose from.
As you’ll discover, the majority of the themes contain a number of desktop backgrounds as well as a window color. However others are more elaborate themes that include extras such as sounds or an RSS feed that automatically adds new backgrounds on a regular basis. If you have dual monitor setup, you’ll be interested in the panoramic themes.
For example, I selected the Aqua Dynamic theme in the From the community category and then clicked Details to access the page shown in Figure C. I discovered that this theme comes with 18 images and an RSS feed.

Figure C

When you click the Details button, you’ll get more information about the theme.
After looking it over, I clicked the Download theme button, selected the Open button from Internet Explorer’s prompt, and clicked Open button in the Security Warning dialog box. Now, because this theme comes with an RSS feed, I encountered a prompt to subscribe to the RSS feed, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

If a theme contains and RSS feed, you’ll be prompted to accept the automatic downloads.
After I clicked Download Attachments, the Aqua Dynamic theme was immediately added to the Personalization window, as shown in Figure E, and was all set to go.

Figure E

Once downloaded, the theme will immediately be set for use in the Personalization tool.
All I had to do was close the Personalization window. I then exposed the new desktop backgrounds and the new window color.

Desktop backgrounds

If you select See all desktop backgrounds link, you’ll see a page that displays a list of background categories as well as the newest backgrounds available, as shown in Figure F.

Figure F

Desktop backgrounds will work in all versions of Windows.
Just select a category and you’ll see a host of backgrounds. When you see one that interests you, just click it and it will instantly fill the browser screen. To download the background, just right click on the image and select the Set as background command, as shown in Figure G.

Figure G

To install the background you have opened, just select the Set as background command from the context menu.
Here is the link: