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Desktop Themes

Take a look at your computer screen right now. What color is the screen? What do the buttons look like? What happens when you click your mouse? When you go to get a cup of coffee, does a screensaver start? All these and a few other things put together are called a theme or desktop theme. Basically a desktop theme is a coordinating set of sounds, mouse pointers, wallpaper, icons, colors scheme, fonts, screensaver, startup/shut down logos, and web view items. WindowsR has several preset themes already on your computer. To change to another preset, go to the Control Panel and click on Themes to open the Desktop Themes dialog box. Then choose the new preset from the drop-down list.

But what if you want more? Are there themes other than the Windows presets? Yes, in fact, themes are so popular that there are entire websites devoted to themes. These websites have 1000's of themes to choose from. You can preview a thumbnail sample of the theme and then download it onto your computer. Here are some sites you may want to check out, ThemeWorld, Themes Unlimited, and The Skins Factory. You can also download desktop themes from freeware/shareware sites such as Tucows, CNET Download, or ZDNet.

It doesn't take long before you get the urge to make your own themes. Your first step is to create the images, animations, and sounds for your theme. For the images you can use your graphics software (PhotoshopR or Gimp). For the sounds, there are digital audio editors such as AdobeR AuditionR and GoldWave. To make the icons or animated icons you can use an icon/cursor editor such as IconEasel and MicroangeloTM. If you decide to use a pre-recorded sound or image, be sure it is royalty/copyright free if you plan to sell your theme.

Now that you have all the pieces of your new theme created and saved together in the same folder, you are ready to create your theme. You can use the Desktop Theme dialog box that comes with Windows to do this. You can also use a small theme editor/manager program such as Theme ManagerTM by Stardock.

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