Back in the Windows 95 and Windows 98 days, Microsoft created the great add-on products Microsoft Plus! and the Microsoft Plus! 98, which–among other features–allowed you to change the look and feel of Windows by selecting various themes. This included wallpapers, color schemes, screen savers, and sounds. If you enjoyed the theme features in those past versions of the Windows operating systems, you’re going to love the fact that with the Windows 10 Creators Update Microsoft has brought back Themes with the same level of control. You can download a host of preconfigured themes from the Windows Store for free. Let’s take a closer look.

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (TechRepublic PDF)

The Themes feature

To access Themes, just press the [Windows] key and click Settings. When Windows Settings appears, click Personalization and then select the Themes tab, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

You’ll find the Themes tab on the Personalization page in Settings.

As you can see, the Themes tab initially displays a thumbnail image of the current theme. Just below that image you’ll find controls for customizing a theme. You can choose a background image, alter the colors, change the sounds associated with the various events, and change the mouse pointers. The Save Theme button allows you to save changes to a custom theme. We’ll look at these features in more detail in next week’s article.

Moving down to the Apply A Theme section, you’ll find thumbnail images of all the themes that are currently available on your system, along with the Get More Themes In The Store link.

SEE: Windows 10 power tips: Secret shortcuts to your favorite settings (Tech Pro Research)

The Windows Store

Clicking the Get More Themes In The Store link opens the Windows Store and takes you immediately to the Windows Themes aisle of the store, as shown in Figure B. As you can see, all the themes are free.

Figure B

The Windows Store has a wide variety of themes to choose from.

When you find a theme you’re interested in, simply click on it to see its page. For example, I selected the Color Explosion theme, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

When you select a theme, you’ll find a brief description as well as several screenshots that show you a preview of the desktop backgrounds.

On each theme page, you’ll find a basic description and several screenshots of the background images to help you determine whether this is the theme you’re looking for. Unfortunately, the descriptions don’t go into any real detail about what is included in the theme. The screenshots are nice, in that you get a preview of the backgrounds, but there is no indication as to what else the theme includes. It would be nice to know if the theme includes its own color scheme, custom sounds, or custom mouse cursors. You just have to download the theme to see what is included.

When you click the Get button, Windows 10 will download and install the theme. When it is complete, you’ll see a notification, as shown in Figure D.

Figure D

Once the Theme installs, you’ll see a notification.

When you click the Launch button, you’ll return to the Themes tab, and you’ll see the new theme as a thumbnail. To enable the new theme, just click the thumbnail.

SEE: Microsoft Universal Windows Platform Expert Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)

More themes

In addition to the themes in the Windows Store, you can still find themes on Microsoft’s site. Chances are that all the themes will move to the Windows Store eventually. But for now, you can point your browser to the Desktop Themes page and choose from many more themes, as shown in Figure E.

Figure E

You’ll find oodles of themes on the Desktop Themes page.

The page contains a big list of theme categories and on each category page you’ll find plenty of themes. As you’ll discover, most of the themes contain a number of desktop backgrounds and a window color. However, some are more elaborate themes that include new sounds as well as images and colors. If you have a dual-monitor setup, you’ll be interested in the panoramic themes. When you see a theme that interests you, just click the Download button. When you are prompted, as shown in Figure F, just click Open and Windows 10 will download, install, and activate the theme immediately.

Figure F

Windows 10 will download, install, and activate the theme immediately.

Delete themes

If at any time you don’t want to have a particular them any longer, you can easily remove it. On the Themes tab, just right click on the thumbnail and select Delete.

Also read…

What’s your take?

Whether you download Windows 10 themes from the Windows Store or directly from Microsoft Desktop Themes page, you’ll be able spiff up your Windows 10 installation quite easily. And remember, in next week’s article, we’ll take a look at how you go about creating a custom theme.

What do you think about the desktop themes in Windows 10 Creators Update? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.