Windows

How do I add hidden international desktop themes to Windows 7?

There are several hidden international themes in Windows 7 that are not visible through the normal personalization section of the Control Panel.

In the past, I have not been a big fan of the personalization features of Microsoft Windows. I found most of the Windows themes to be clunky, resource hogs, ugly, or all of the above. However, Windows 7 and the Aero interface is different, especially for those of us lucky enough to have a high-definition resolution LCD monitor. Some of the included themes are quite elegant and engaging. In particular, I like the image slideshow that serves as the background setting for many of the themes.

But there are several hidden international themes that do not appear as choices in the conventional United States-based installation of Windows 7. When you told Windows 7 that you were a resident of the U.S., the operating system hid the other international choices, but I don't like having my choices arbitrarily limited (Figure A). There is a relatively simple way to add them to your list of available themes in the Personalization section of the Control Panel, and it starts with a search.

Figure A

No international themes are available.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a TechRepublic download and also as a TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

International twist

First, start Windows Explorer and type "globalization" in the search box located in the upper right corner (Figure B). You will get a lengthy list of folders and files, but we are interested only in the Globalization folder.

Figure B

Search globalization.
Double-clicking the Globalization folder reveals three more folders (Figure C). We are looking for the MCT folder.

Figure C

Locate the MCT folder.
Double-clicking the MCT folder reveals several more folders (Figure D). In my case, there are folders containing themes for Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and South Africa.

Figure D

These are the International themes.
Double-click on the MCT-AU folder, for example, to reveal three more folders, all associated with the Australian Windows Desktop Theme (Figure E).

Figure E

Let's take a look at the Australian Windows Desktop Theme.
To see the thumbnail images of the Australian theme, click the Australia folder (Figure F).

Figure F

Here are the thumbnails from Australia.
To add the Australian theme to the list of themes displayed in the Personalization section of the Control Panel, click the Theme folder (Figure E) to reveal the Australian theme application (Figure G). Double-click the file and the Australian theme will become your new active theme and will be entered as a choice on the Personalization page (Figure H).

Figure G

Add the Australian theme.

Figure H

The Australian theme is now one of your available choices.

You can add the themes for Canada, Great Britain, and South Africa the same way.

If you want to see the images from all of these themes, check out the accompanying TechRepublic Photo Gallery.

Choose a theme

Are you a fan of Windows themes? Which theme is your current choice? Do you have a favorite theme that you can share with us?

TechRepublic's Windows Vista and Windows 7 Report newsletter, delivered every Friday, offers tips, news, and scuttlebutt on Vista and Windows 7, including a look at new features in the latest version of the Windows OS. Automatically sign up today!

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

19 comments
nwu7xpf02
nwu7xpf02

C: must be highlighted before performing the search for "globalization."

ted
ted

How can I make Windows Explorer show the MCT folder? If I go to the DOS Command Prompt box, I can change to the MCT folder, so it is obviously there. But it doesn't show up in Windows Explorer. How can I make it show up?

bd1235
bd1235

Yeah, I found five folders for USA, Canada, Australia, Great Britain and South Africa. Nice photos for Canada and a bit boring for the USA. What has got me going is Mark's comment about these photos being available in the Tech Republic Photo Gallery. Where is that?

justnews4812
justnews4812

Use this. Its so simple this way in the search menu of windows 7. Brings up all the themes for you. \windows\globalization\mct

brian
brian

Seems like double-clicking on an international theme only adds that theme's photos temporarily. You can make them permanently available for slideshow from any theme by copying the themes' images to Windows\Web\wallpaper\[something]. That produces a category called [something] in the Personalization dialog with the images available for selection. Strangely, my Windows seemed to balk at copying each of the main picture folders directly. It behaved like they were something special and not just a folder with a name. e.g. copying MCT-AU\Austraila worked fine, but subsequently copying MCT-CA\Canada brought up a dialog saying "There is already a folder named Australia in this location. Would you like to merge the two folders?" It then showed two folders named Australia and Canada. (Why isn't Microsoft happy with a folder being named what it's named, existing where it's located, without all the tomfoolery?) To get the photos all available I had to manually create folders for each of Australia, Canada etc. and copy the jpeg files by hand.

brian
brian

on my Win 7 Ultimate X64. EDIT: oops, nevermind. Something turned my "hide stuff from the user" settings back on.

CG IT
CG IT

background wallpaper and screen savers that didn't make it to Windows 7. One of the 3rd party themes I ran on Vista was the 3d animated wallpaper.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Are you a fan of Windows themes? Which theme is your current choice? Do you have a favorite theme that you can share with us?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I forget that not everyone is like me in this regard. One of the very first things I do when getting a new PC is unhide all files of any type. I want to see everything no matter what. In Windows Explorer, under the Organize menu, click Folder and search options. Click the View Tab and unclick or click any of the options you need to to make all files visible.

artlife
artlife

I copied the images only from each country folder to a folder where I keep my wallpaper. I run a custom theme using the slideshow background. You can then check or uncheck images to use in the slideshow. This is a nice way to rotate through a large collection of wallpapers.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I am not getting this behavior at all. When I double click the theme executable file, it puts an theme entry in the My Themes section of the Personalization section of the Control Panel. Are you just trying to run the Desktop Background Slide Show with just the images from these themes? That is slightly different and is not something I have tried yet.

jjackson3755
jjackson3755

Although I would like to check out these themes so if someone out there would be kind enough to zip the MCT folder and send to me, I would greatly appreciate it!

bobw
bobw

I do the samething.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

A bit lazy? How about searching harder. It's a protected folder. C:\Windows\Globalization\MCT

larsenz
larsenz

I could not find the MCT folder until, I unchecked Hide protected operating system files and checked, Show hidden files, folders and drives. After that I was able to see the MCT folder.

rpost
rpost

Maybe the folks at Microsoft are playing a game with us but I found the MCT-XX folders in a slightly different location. No MCT folder, just C:\windows\globalization\MCT-XX, where "XX" is the country code. Under each of those folders you will find "Theme," country, etc. Anyway, lot 'o pics to be had - isn't choice a wonderful thing?