How to use Win8 Themes on Windows 10 - Lion and Licorice

Once you patch the theme engine in Windows 10 with UXTheme patcher, you can use lots of the existing Windows 8 themes with Windows 10. Below are 2 themes I have used for this post. One is Lion- an OSX like grey theme, and the other is Licorce- inspired by the linux Elementary theme. Just copy them into the c:\windows\resources\themes folder. Below are links where to get them. Enjoy.

You can get the Lion theme here:

You can get the Licorice theme here:


How to add Personalize menu back to Windows 10

If you check (turn on) Launch folder windows under a separate process in File Explorer Options, it will cause Desktop Background in the context menu to open two instances. Leave this setting turned off to only have one Desktop Background window open when used.

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EXAMPLE: 'Personalize (classic)' context menu and items
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Here's How:

1. Do step 2 or step 3 below for what you would like to do.

 2. To Add "Personalize (classic)" to Desktop Context Menu

A) Click/tap on the Download button below to download the file below, and go to step 4 below.



 3. To Remove "Personalize (classic)" from Desktop Context Menu

NOTE: This is the default setting.

A) Click/tap on the Download button below to download the file below, and go to step 4 below.



4. Save the .reg file to your desktop.

5. Double click/tap on the downloaded .reg file to merge it.

6. If prompted, click on Run, Yes (UAC), Yes, and OK to approve the merge.

7. You can now delete the downloaded .reg file if you like.



How to completely remove OneDrive from Windows 10

No OneDrive Windows 10

OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage service, is heavily integrated into Windows 10. We've already explained how you can remove the OneDrive entry from File Explorer, but what if you don’t want the service in your new OS at all?
You can disable or uninstall it completely by following these simple steps. This will remove it from File Explorer, and everywhere else.

There is a catch though, and that’s to disable OneDrive you need to use the Group Policy Editor and that tool is only available in the Professional, Enterprise and Education editions of the OS. It isn't in Windows 10 Home.

To launch the Group Policy Editor, click Start and type gpedit.msc. Go to Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > OneDrive. Then enable Prevent the usage of OneDrive for file storage.

You can uninstall OneDrive through the Command Prompt. Right-click the Start button and select Command Prompt (Admin). Terminate any running OneDrive processes by typing taskkill /f /im OneDrive.exe. Hit enter.
If you’re using the 32-bit version of Windows 10 type:
%SystemRoot%\System32\OneDriveSetup.exe /uninstall
Or, if you’re using the 64-bit edition, type:
%SystemRoot%\SysWOW64\OneDriveSetup.exe /uninstall
There’s no confirmation that this has successfully removed OneDrive from Windows 10, but you’ll find the app will no longer be available (your OneDrive files and folders will still exist however).
There’s also a third-party tool you can use to uninstall OneDrive if you want the simplest method. It’s available here.
You can reinstall OneDrive at any point in the future by going to

%SystemRoot%\SysWOW64\ in File Explorer and running the OneDriveSetup.exe.


Windows 10 Color Control: Set Custom Colors For Taskbar & Window Borders

If you have made the jump and upgraded your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 installation to Windows 10, you probably have noticed the default dark color used for the Start menu and taskbar.
Windows 10 allows users change the default color of taskbar and Start menu, but the Settings app offers limited set of colors. As you can see in the picture, the Settings app allows you choose a color from close to fifty colors, but it does not offer colors in brighter shades.

Windows 10 Color Control pic1

While, we can use the color mixer in the hidden Color and Appearance window, it’s almost impossible to set a bright color as Start menu or taskbar background.
The other issue with the default color and appearance in Windows 10 is that we can’t set different colors for taskbar and window borders. This is because, the selected accent color is not just used for Start menu and taskbar, but also for window borders and some other areas of the operating system.

Windows 10 Color Control software

If you want to set a bright color or love to have different colors on your taskbar/Start and window borders, you can now download a small utility called Windows 10 Color Control.
Windows 10 Color Control pic2
Windows 10 Color Control is a free software developed by the maker of 7+ Taskbar Tweaker and Unchecky (now part of Reason Company Software).
Windows 10 Color Control utility gives you the liberty to set your own, custom color as accent color. The tool also allows you set different colors for taskbar/Start and window borders.

Windows 10 Color Control

And if you are wondering about new auto-color accent algorithm, it’s nothing but the new color calculation algorithm used in Windows 10 and there is no point in enabling the option while using this tool.
Using Windows 10 Color Control is also extremely easy. Download the zip file (link available at end of this article), extract it to get the executable, run the same, select DWM color (window border color) and then select accent color (for taskbar, start menu) and then click Apply button. The tool will automatically refresh the color to reflect new colors.
Overall, the tool might not be useful for everyone but if you love customizing your Windows 10 installation, this portable utility will be helpful for you.

Download Windows 10 Color Control


Changing the white Windows 10 title bar color the easy way

One common trend in software development in the past couple of years seems to be to streamline products and remove options in the process.
We see this in most tech products this day, be it browsers or operating systems. Windows 10 is a good example as it is more restrictive than previous versions of Windows when it comes to user choice and options.
Personalization options are for instance limited when you compare them to previous versions of the operating system. You may notice for instance that you cannot change the white color of the title bar in Windows 10 which means that every window you open when you are running the operating system has a white title bar.
While you can still access the personalization options with a right-click on the desktop and the selection of personalize, you will notice that it lacks core options that were part of previous versions of Windows.
If you don't want your title bar color to be white, for instance because it is too bright in the morning or late at night, then you need to hack the system to change that color as there is no option to make that change in the settings.
If you search for solutions on the Internet you will find many that suggest adding themes to the system or replacing system files. While that works, there is a simpler option that does not require as much effort but offers the same result.
All you need to do is to download Winaero Tweaker from the Winaero website and use it to enable custom Windows 10 title bar colors (for those interested, we have reviewed the program previously).
The program is a tweaking software for Windows 10 that you can use to change various system settings, and one of those tweaks unlocks the color selection for Windows 10's title bar.
colored title bars
Download and extract the program files to your Windows 10 system. Run the program afterwards, and select Colored Title Bars under Appearance in its interface.
Click on "enable colored title bars" to lift the white color restriction. You can use the personalize menu then to change the title bar, or have the system set it automatically based on the selected desktop background. The program ships with an option to undo the change at any time should the need arise.
This can be the case for instance if Microsoft implements native options to change the title bar's color scheme with an update. For now though, it is the easiest option by far.



How to Get Colored Window Title Bars on Windows 10 (Instead of White)

Windows 10 uses white window title bars by default. This is a big change from Windows 8, which allowed you to pick any color you wanted. But you can give those title bars some color with this quick trick.
This trick only affects traditional desktop apps, not the new universal apps. Universal apps will always use white unless their developers specify a different window title bar color. However, you can also make many universal apps use a hidden dark theme.

Modify the Windows Theme Files

Microsoft chose to force white title bars in an odd way. In the uDWM.dll theme file in WIndows, there’s code that looks at the current theme file name and compares it to “aero.msstyles” — the default theme file. If it matches, Windows ignores the color specified in the theme file and sets the color to white. So, all you have to do is modify the default Windows theme file to not contain the name “aero.msstyles”.
First, open a File Explorer window and navigate to C:\Windows\Resources\Themes. Select the “aero” folder, press Ctrl + C to copy it, and then immediately press Ctrl + V to paste it and make a copy of it. Click “Continue” to the UAC prompt. Select “Do this for all current items” and click “Skip” when you see the File Access Denied window.

You’ll get a folder named “aero – Copy”. Rename it to “color”. (It doesn’t have to be “color”, but we’ll be using color throughout here — you just need to use a consistent name.)
Go into your new folder. You’ll see a file named “aero.msstyles”. Rename it to “color.msstyles”. Click Continue when you see the UAC prompt.

Next, open the en-US folder and you’ll see an “aero.msstyles.mui” file. Rename it to “color.msstyles.mui”. When you see the UAC prompt, click Continue.
The en-US folder may have a different name if you’re using a different language edition of Windows.

Go back to the main Themes folder and you’ll see a file named aero.theme. Select it and copy it by pressing Ctrl + C. Switch over to your desktop and press Ctrl + V to paste a copy of the file there. Rename the new aero.theme file to color.theme.

Right-click the color.theme file, point to Open With, select Choose another app, and open it with Notepad.

Scroll down in the file and locate the line under [VisualStyles] reading Path=%ResourceDir%\Themes\Aero\Aero.msstyles. Replace it with Path=%ResourceDir%\Themes\color\color.msstyles. Save your changes and close Notepad afterwards.

Select the color.theme file and press Ctrl + X to cut it. Go back to the C:\Windows\Resources\Themes folder and press Ctrl + V to paste it here. Agree to the UAC prompt when you’re done. You now have a theme that can use colored window title bars.

Activate the Theme

Double-click the color.theme file to activate your new theme. Windows will switch to the color.theme file and your window titlebars will immediately become colored.

Pick a Custom Color

As on Windows 8, Windows automatically chooses an “accent color” from your desktop background by default. But you can set your own custom color.
Right-click the desktop and select Personalize, or open the Settings app and select Personalization to find these options. Pick the “Colors” category. Disable the “Automatically pick an accent color from my background” option and you’ll see a list of different colors you can use.

This list is still a bit limited compared to the Color and Appearance options in Windows 8.1, which allowed you to select any color you liked. This desktop control panel has been completely hidden in Windows 10. However, you can still access it — for now.
To access this hidden control panel, press Windows Key + R to open the Run dialog. Copy-and-paste the following line into the Run dialog and run the command:
rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL desk.cpl,Advanced,@Advanced
The “Show color mixer” option here will let you pick any color you want for your window title bars.

This process was tested on the final version of Windows 10 — build 10240. As Microsoft is committed to updating WIndows 10 more regularly than previous versions of WIndows, it’s possible they may change the way this works in the future. Or, if we’re lucky, they may add more theme options that don’t require this hidden trick.



How to do a clean install of Windows 10

Microsoft released a tool yesterday that enables you to create installation media, an ISO image or USB files, so that you can use it to upgrade existing Windows systems or clean install Windows 10.
Users who run Windows 7 or Windows 8 currently will run into issues when they try to do a clean install as they are prompted for a product key during installation of the new operating system.
When they try to enter their Windows 7 or 8 product key, they will receive information that it is invalid and not accepted.
The issue here is that existing keys need to be converted to Windows 10 keys first before they can be used to activate a Windows 10 system.
So how do you achieve that?
According to Microsoft, you need to run an upgrade first on an existing system to convert the product key. Once you have done that, you may use the product key to do a clean install of Windows 10.
That's obviously not overly comfortable, considering that you spend time upgrading the system only to clean install Windows 10 afterwards.
There is no other solution for this at the time of writing. An online product key converter would be handy for this, or maybe even an option to call Microsoft and get the key converted as both options should take less time.

Anyway, here is the process in detail

download windows 10
  1. Backup your existing system. I cannot stress enough that you should back up important files before you run the upgrade. Since you do want to run a clean install anyway, make sure all important files are backed up to a save location before you start.
  2. Accept the upgrade offer that is displayed on the Windows 7 or Windows 8 system. If you have troubles getting the Windows 10 upgrade offer to display read the linked article. You find a tool download link there which should resolve the issue and display the upgrade offer on your machine.
  3. You may create an ISO image or prepare a USB Flash drive alternatively, and use installation media to upgrade. Since you do need one of the two anyway for the clean installation of Windows 10, you may very well use it right away.
  4. Run the upgrade. Either use Windows Update for that and follow the prompts displayed on the screen, or boot the PC from the installation media you created earlier and follow the instructions to upgrade the existing system.
  5. Once the upgrade process completes -- you will notice that when the system boots the Windows 10 desktop -- you have converted the product key successfully to a Windows 10 product key. This means that you can now use clean installation media to install the operating system. Note that it seems only possible to install Windows 10 anew on the PC you ran the upgrade on.
If you upgraded to Windows 10 on this PC by taking advantage of the free upgrade offer and successfully activated Windows 10 on this PC in the past, you won't have a Windows 10 product key, and you can skip the product key page by selecting the Skip button. Your PC will activate online automatically so long as the same edition of Windows 10 was successfully activated on this PC by using the free Windows 10 upgrade offer. (source)
Some users have reportedly problems activating Windows 10 after doing a clean install of the operating system.
These users should check the following on the system:
  • Check under Settings > Update & Security >  Activation whether "Windows is Activated", and if the right edition is installed.
  • Check under Settings > Accounts > Your Account to make sure you are signed in to your verified Microsoft Account.
  • Use the following VB Script to check the product key and compare it against the following generic keys
  • Windows 10 Home - YTMG3-N6DKC-DKB77-7M9GH-8HVX7
  • Windows 10 Pro - VK7JG-NPHTM-C97JM-9MPGT-3V66T
  • Windows 10 Home SL- BT79Q-G7N6G-PGBYW-4YWX6-6F4BT
  • Windows 10 Pro VL-MAK - QJNXR-7D97Q-K7WH4-RYWQ8-6MT6Y
  • If you have a generic key, there is no other solution currently but to call Microsoft Support (source)
Closing Words
The only option right now to clean install Windows 10 is to run an upgrade first. The only exception to the rule is if you bought a full copy of Windows 10 as you get a product key with it that you use during installation to activate it.
Now you: Did you run into issues installing Windows 10?



Here are the best alternative Windows 10 Start menus

Windows 10 is here, and with it is the Start menu missing from Windows 8.x. The world rejoices. Except not everyone likes the new Start menu which blends the functionality of the Windows 7 menu with the Metro/Modern tiles from Windows 8.
If you’re not a fan of Windows 10’s Start menu (and some people are avoiding the free upgrade purely for this reason), the good news is there are a number of decent replacements available.

Classic Shell
Ask a Windows 8 user which is the best Start menu and the chances are they’ll say Classic Shell. It truly is fantastic. It offers a choice of three different menu styles -- Classic, Two Columns and Windows 7 -- which can be skinned to suit your tastes.
It is packed with options, including a dedicated shutdown button, the ability to pin programs directly from Explorer and an enhanced Windows Search function.
Most people will choose this Start menu over all others, but there are further choices to consider.

classic shell menu

IObit Start Menu 8
Sure, from the name you might think IObit’s Start menu only works in Windows 8, but it supports Windows 10 too. The program offers a choice of styles. You can opt for the usual Windows 7 look, or go for the Windows 8 design which places the Start (or Apps) screen inside a window on the desktop. It offers a selection of different Start button choices too.

Not the most polished looking of Start menus, it lets you access frequently used applications and pin items. It doesn’t require installation, so you can try it out without risk. It will work with both Windows 8.x and 10.

Stardock’s Windows 10 Start menu replacement lets you choose between classic or enhanced Start menus. There’s unified search for apps, settings and files, and you can access desktop and modern apps from the menu. There’s also a skinnable Start button. It will set you back $4.99, but there is a 30-day free trial. I'm actually a big fan of this particular Start menu and would definitely recommend you at least consider it.


It’s possible that other Start menus designed for Windows 8.x will work with Windows 10, but I’ve chosen to only include ones I know will work with the new OS.
Will you be using a third party Start menu in Windows 10?



Activating Windows 10 After A Clean Install

A number of PC users who have upgraded from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 now want to perform a clean install of Windows 10 but not sure how to activate Windows 10 after doing a clean install.
As promised a few months ago, Microsoft is allowing users perform clean install of Windows 10 after upgrading from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. To help users safely download the right edition of Windows 10, Microsoft has also released Windows 10 Media Creation Tool but has not provided much information on activating Windows 10 after a clean install.

You can legally activate Windows 10 without a product key!

According to this page of Microsoft, if you upgraded your current PC from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 using the free upgrade offer and successfully activated your Windows 10, you don’t need a product key to perform a clean install of the same edition of Windows 10 on the same PC.

Know why your Windows 10 was not activated (1)
That is, you don’t need a product key to clean install Windows 10 on your current PC as long as you have upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 and successfully activated the same before performing a clean install of the same edition of Windows 10.
For example, if you have upgraded your Lenovo computer from Windows 7 Ultimate edition to Windows 10 Pro (Ultimate edition users are automatically upgraded to Windows 10 Pro as part of the free upgrade) and successfully activated it, you can perform a clean install of Windows 10 Pro on the same Dell machine by wiping the hard drive, and you won’t need a product key to activate it.

Clean installing and activating Windows 10

Here are steps you need to follow while clean installing Windows 10:
Step 1: Download Windows 10 ISO from Microsoft. Be sure to download the right edition.
Step 2: Prepare bootable USB of Windows 10 or prepare bootable DVD of Windows 10, and boot from the bootable media by making appropriate changes to the BIOS/UEFI.
Step 3: While installing Windows 10, you will see the following screen, where you are asked to enter the Windows 10 product key. Since you don’t have a product key of Windows 10, follow the instructions in the next step.

Activate Windows 10 after clean install

Step 4: Since you’re clean installing Windows 10 after successfully upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you should leave the product key box blank, and click the Skip button instead to proceed further.
Step 5: Complete the installation. That’s it! Your Windows 10 will activate online automatically once you connect your PC to the internet.
But if you’re still getting any activation errors, don’t hesitate to chat with Microsoft support or request a call back from Microsoft support.
Note that above mentioned method is provided by Microsoft, and is not a workaround to illegally activate Windows 10.


How to Clean Install Windows 10

The Windows 10 upgrade process drags old files, settings, and programs from your previous Windows system to your new one. Microsoft allows you to get an entirely fresh system by performing a clean install, but the activation process can be a bit confusing.

This is also useful if you’ve purchased a new Windows 10 PC and it includes manufacturer-installed bloatware you don’t want. Or, you may need to perform a clean install on a computer without an existing Windows system after installing a new hard drive.

Note that you won’t be eligible for the free “Windows DVD Player” app offered to users of Windows Media Center if you perform a clean install. However, you can always install VLC to get DVD playback or use one of the more fully featured Windows Media Center alternatives.

The Easy Alternative: Perform a Reset and Remove Everything

There’s an alternative to clean-installing. You can use the Reset feature to reset your Windows 10 system back to its fresh state.

If you installed Windows 10 yourself, this should give you a fresh Windows system. If you purchased a computer that came with Windows 10, this will likely bring back the bloatware that came with your Windows 10 PC. (There should be a way to prevent Windows 10’s Reset function from reinstalling the bloatware, but we’ll need to get our hands on a PC that comes with Windows 10 before we can find out how.)

Note that this may not be the perfect solution — while it should give you a perfectly like-new Windows system, some people have reported that it won’t fix some system corruption issues, in which case you’d want to perform a real clean install.

To reset your Windows 10 PC, open the Settings app, select Update & security, select Recovery, and click the “Get started” button under Reset this PC. Select “Remove everything.” This will wipe all your files, so be sure you have backups.

For the Free Upgrade: Have You Upgraded and Activated Your Windows 10 System?
If you want to perform a clean install of WIndows 10 and haven’t upgraded to Windows 10 yet on your Windows 7 or 8.1 PC, you have some extra work to do. You’ll need to take advantage of Microsoft’s upgrade offer before performing a clean install. (Obviously, if you have a PC that came with Windows 10 or you’ve purchased your own Windows 10 license, this isn’t necessary.)

When you upgrade a Windows 7 or 8.1 system to Windows 10, the installer confirms that you have a “genuine Windows” system installed and activates your computer for use with Windows 10. Note that you don’t actually get a Windows 10 product key — instead, your computer’s hardware is registered with Microsoft’s servers. When you install Windows 10 on that PC again in the future, it will check in with Microsoft’s servers, confirm it’s installed on a registered PC, and automatically activate itself.

If you don’t take advantage of the upgrade process first, this registration will never happen. There’s no way to enter a Windows 7 or 8.1 key into the Windows 10 installer, nor is there some sort of web form that will give you a Windows 10 key if you provide your Windows 7 or 8.1 key. Sorry — you’ll have to upgrade to Windows 10 before you can perform a clean install.

If you need to upgrade, you can download Microsoft’s Windows 10 media creation tool and tell it to “Upgrade this PC now.” It will automatically upgrade you to Windows 10 if your PC is running a genuine version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

Once you’re done, confirm that Windows 10 is activated before performing a clean install. You can check this by opening Settings, selecting Update & Security, and selecting Activation.

Verify that you see “Windows is activated” here. Also, note the edition of Windows 10 you have installed — either Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Pro. Most people will receive the Home edition as part of the free upgrade, but you’ll get Windows 10 Pro if you previously had a Professional edition of Windows 7 or 8.1 installed.

If Windows 10 isn’t activated, don’t try to perform a clean install until it is.

Download Windows 10 and Create Installation Media

Even if your Windows system has already been upgraded with the “Get Windows 10″ reservation process, you’ll need to download Windows installation media to install Windows 10 from scratch.

Download the Windows 10 media creation tool from Microsoft. This tool will download the correct Windows 10 installation files for your system, and it also has built-in functions to create USB installation media or burn an installer DVD. Select the “Create installation media for another PC” option to create installation media.

Be sure to select the correct type of installation media for the copy of Windows 10 that’s licensed for your PC — Windows 10 Home or Professional. You should also choose your language and select whether you want the 32-bit or 64-bit version of Windows here — most people will want the 64-bit version. However, you can create installation media that includes both the 32-bit and 64-bit version, and the installer will automatically select the most appropriate one when you use it to install Windows on a computer.

Install Windows 10 from the installation media like you would any other operating system. Restart your computer with the USB drive or DVD inserted and boot from that device. This may require you change a setting in the BIOS, access a boot menu, or use the “Use a device” option in the advanced startup options on a modern Windows 8 or 10 device that includes UEFI firmware instead of the traditional BIOS.

Select “Install Now” once the Windows installer starts. When you reach a screen asking for your WIndows 10 product key, click the Skip button. You won’t actually have a Windows 10 product key if you took advantage of the free upgrade offer.

If you do have a Windows 10 product key, enter it here.

Go through the setup process normally until you see the “Which type of installation do you want?” screen. Select the “Custom” option to ensure you’re performing a clean install and not an upgrade install.

Partition your system drive however you like. If you just have a single WIndows partition, you can tell the installer to overwrite it. If you have many partitions, you could delete them all and tell Windows 10 to install itself in the unallocated space.

You’ll be asked for the product key after the process is finished. Just click “Do this later” to skip this part and continue the setup process.

After you log into your new, clean-installed Windows 10 system, it should automatically activate itself after you connect to the Internet. If you took advantage of the free upgrade offer, it does this by checking your computer’s hardware and then checking in with Microsoft, verifying that your hardware configuration is authorized to use Windows 10.

When we reinstalled Windows 10 Pro on our computer, it activated immediately. But, if Microsoft’s activation servers are overloaded, so it may take some time before your system activates. You can open the Settings app, select Update & security, and select Activation to check your activation status. If it’s not activated, you may see information here that can help you activate.

Some people report having to reboot several times, while others have just waited. The following command can force an activation to occur if it’s not happening automatically after going through the steps above. First, open an Administrator Command Prompt by right-clicking the Start button or pressing Windows Key + X and selecting Command Prompt (Admin). Type the following command and press Enter:

slmgr.vbs /ato

Many people report having to run this command several times. if you see an error message, try rebooting and running it again, wait and run it again, or just wait and let Windows activate automatically. Microsoft’s servers may be overloaded at the moment you’re trying to activate.

Microsoft’s free upgrade offer depends on your PC’s hardware so it may not activate properly if you’ve swapped out hardware inside your PC. You may need to call Microsoft and complete the phone activation process, explaining what happened, if you changed the PC’s hardware after taking advantage of the offer. The phone support line can give you an activation code that will allow you to activate Windows 10, even if it won’t activate automatically. However, you may have to provide additional information.

Note that the free Windows 10 upgrade (as well as OEM copies of Windows and pre-installed copies of Windows 10) can’t actually be transferred to a separate PC. They’re tied to a single PC’s hardware.

Image Credit: Brett Morrison on Flickr