Add Windows 7 themes and backgrounds for the July 4th holiday

Greg Shultz is feeling patriotic for U.S. Independence Day and is expressing it with some tweaking of Windows 7 themes. He shows you how it's done.

As I prepare myself for the July 4th celebration, I've been working on customizing my Microsoft Windows 7 system and decided to share with the TechRepublic Community what I have done. I also explain how to create a guest account in Windows 7 so that if you have visitors this holiday you can allow them to use your PC without risking your configuration.

This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.

Independence Day Theme

As you may remember, in the old days, the creative types at Microsoft would put together holiday theme packs for the Windows operating system. Unfortunately those days are long gone. However, I did discover the Independence Day Theme on the Windows 7 Web site that I thought was quite nice.

When you download and unzip the file, you'll find a 4thjuly.themepack file. As you can imagine, a file with the themepack file extension is a Windows Theme Pack file. Just double-click on the themepack file and Windows 7 will instantly apply any desktop backgrounds, window colors, sounds, and screensavers that the themepack file provides.

The Independence Day Theme includes several desktop backgrounds, including a beautiful American Flag, as shown in Figure A, and sets up the Festival sound scheme. I was hoping that this theme would come with an animated fireworks screensaver, something along the lines of the great fireworks animation that you see when you win a game of Windows 7's Mahjong Titans, but it does not.

Conducting a Google search turned up quite a few fireworks screensavers, but most were old or bizarre or were from sites I didn't feel comfortable recommending. As such, I thought that I would open it up to TechRepublic readers and ask you to make suggestions for fireworks screensavers. Have any suggestions? If so, drop by the discussion area and let us know what you have discovered.

Figure A

The Independence Day Theme includes an American Flag desktop background.

Fireworks photos

While I couldn't find an animated fireworks screensaver, I did find a series of stunning fireworks photographs on the Smashing Magazine site. (Smashing Magazine is an online publication focused on web designers and developers and the design community.) Each image is linked to the original photographer's page with their profile names -- so you can view more of their work or even thank them for their contribution.

After downloading a set of images, I was able to use the Windows Live Photo Gallery screensaver to create a really nice fireworks slideshow.

Figure B

This photo presented on the Smashing Magazine site is from a series by a photographer who goes by the moniker ADW44.

Having visitors?

If you will be having visitors for the holiday weekend and you think they might ask to use your computer, you can safeguard your system by enabling and allowing your visitors to use Windows 7's Guest account. When someone logs on to the Guest account, which has no password, they can't install software or hardware, change settings, or create a password.

To enable the Guest Account, click the Start button and type User in the Start Search box. Then, select User Accounts. When you see the User Accounts window, click the Manage Another Account link. In the Manage Accounts window, click the Guest account and then click the Turn On button, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

You can protect your system from accidental disruption by enabling the Guest account for visitors.

What's your take?

Will you employ these tips in preparation for the July 4th holiday? As always, if you have comments or information to share about this topic, please take a moment to drop by the TechRepublic Community Forums and let us hear from you.

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