Customizing Windows

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Making your own visual styles

You now know how to install and use custom-made visual styles, but did you ever wonder how other people make visual styles? This next section will take you through the process of creating your own visual style as well as the history of how people started making them.

It all began before people could actually use the visual styles. Curious users snooping around their Windows XP files discovered that Windows XP had a skinning engine just like many other applications that had the whole look of the operating stores in a file on the hard drive in the themes folder called luna.msstyles. This file contains all of the data for the new Windows XP look.

Then, just as with the boot and logon screens, people started to use resource hacking tools such as Resource Hacker to open up luna.msstyles and replace the bitmaps stored within the file with image files they made. Additionally, you could use programs like Resource Hacker to edit the settings files stored within the visual style as well to edit all of the sizes of the different Windows components.

The possibilities that applications such as Resource Hacker gave users were unlimited, except for the fact that there still was no way to test and use the new user-made visual styles becausethey were not digitally signed by Microsoft. Eventually, that all changed, as you know from the last few sections, and users were able to use their own visual styles.

Now there are several different ways that you can make your own visual style. You can use the Resource Hacker approach and manually open up your luna.msstyles file and replace bitmaps in the file with ones you made yourself. This process can be a very long and difficult one when you are trying to design a completely different visual style. This method would really only make sense to use if you just wanted to replace one part of a visual style, such as the green Start button.

If for some reason you just don’t like the green Start button, then you can open up the file in Resource Hacker and look for the bitmap on which to work. First, you will probably want to extract the bitmap from the file so that you can work on it in your favorite image editing program. Then, once you are finished, just replace the bitmap in the file with your modified version. Hit Save As, give the file a new name, and you are finished once you create a new folder for the name of the visual style.

If you want to make a completely new visual style with a new look or modify an existing one beyond changing one little component, then using a commercial editor is a must.TGT Soft, the company that brought you Style XP and the first patch for the visual style engine, has come out with an editor known as StyleBuilder.

StyleBuilder is an amazing program that TGT Soft created after they found out how the visual style file was compiled. It provides the user with an easy-to-use visual front for editing the visual style files. Instead of using a resource hacker and searching for a specific bitmap to replace, you can just navigate through the menus and click the object that you want to replace within the editor. This saves a lot of time and makes it feasible to create a whole visual style from scratch.

To get started, download a copy of StyleBuilder from TGT Soft’s Web site, located at Sometimes, the best way to learn something is to start by modifying a visual style. Once you download and install a copy of StyleBuilder, perform the following steps to learn how to import an existing visual style, make changes to it, and then save it for use on your computer and distribution on the Internet:

1. Start up StyleBuilder by navigating though the TGT Soft folder in the Start Menu and selecting StyleBuilder.

2. Say that you’d like to import the iBar 4 visual style that you use on your computer and want to make some changes to it.When StyleBuilder is starting up, click the File Menubar item and select the Import .msstyle file.

3. Next, you will have to fill in the two boxes on the import window. Specify the .msstyles file of the visual style that you want to import to modify. Then specify the folder that you want all of the settings and images to be extracted to so that StyleBuilder can edit the files.

4. When you are finished filling in the two boxes, hit the OK button to start the import

5. After a few seconds, the import should be done and you will be notified if the import has been successful or not. If it has, you will have the option to open up the newly created StyleBuilder files to edit the visual style. Click the Yes button so that you can edit the files.

6. StyleBuilder will now open up the imported visual style for editing. First, get familiar with the interface. On the left-hand side of the screen are the buttons that you use for navigating between different parts of the visual style to edit, such as the Task Bar, User Pane, and Tracker & Progress. Also, you will see different section header buttons that indicate the current color scheme of the visual style that you are editing.

7. Editing the different settings and images is easy with StyleBuilder. Just click the object that you want to edit with your mouse in the preview window. Alternatively, you can navigate through the setting tree to easily get to a specific items settings.

8. To edit an image, just right-click it and select Edit. If you want to use a specific program, you will have to set up your graphic editors in StyleBuilder by right-clicking an image and selecting Edit With from the menu. Additionally, you can specify a different image file by clicking the ImageFile entry on the list and then hitting the Choose button.

9. Once you have your images replaced, you can play around with the settings for the visual style, such as the object sizes, borders, and fonts. All of these settings can be adjusted by selecting an object from the list on the Properties tab and editing the values on the right in the textboxes.

10. As you are working on your visual style, you may want to test it to see how it looks, as the Preview window doesn’t always give you an accurate depiction of how it will look on your computer. You can do so by clicking the Apply button on the toolbar. Included is also a cool test feature that will allow you to view the current visual style applied on a window that has every possible window object that you can think of so that you can see how your visual style will look in all varieties of applications.

11. When you have finished modifying a visual style, and have created your own custom style, you are ready to compile it and, if you want, export it for distribution on the Web. Click the Actions menu bar item and select Compile. You will be asked to name your visual style; once you name it, it will be compiled and placed in your documents folder. If you would like to distribute your visual style on the Web to share with your friends or the rest of the world, click the ZIP file from the toolbar on the top and specify what you want to include and click OK. Then, you can e-mail your friends this ZIP file, which, by default, is saved in your documents folder, or you can submit it to Web sites such as

Making your own visual style from scratch requires a lot of graphical and artistic skills. But if you just want to tweak your favorite visual style, then you will have no problem doing so with the help of StyleBuilder.

You have now mastered the world of visual styles. You have discovered how you can make your system accept non-Microsoft visual styles so that you can take advantage of the new skinning engine built into Windows XP. And now you also know how to modify and make your own visual styles.

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3 komentar:

wall said...

great post. we can use style xp

Anonymous said...

I personally love Resource Hacker better than anything else, because it allows you to edit all the menus and window names, and even allows you to make windows transparent, and make them wiggle and have other astounding effects like sparkles and explosions when you close them --- if you know how to code

Anonymous said...

Google this "StyleBuilder"
and you will find the download link for the program which includes a patch so you don't have to register it

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