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.
No international themes are available.
International twistFirst, 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.
Search globalization.Double-clicking the Globalization folder reveals three more folders (Figure C). We are looking for the MCT folder.
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.
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).
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).
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).
Add the Australian theme.
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!
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.