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This is a brief explanation on how to create themes. I created this mostly for those of us that don't have the patience to read an in depth detailed description on how to create themes.

Have fun creating your theme! You can submit your theme to my site when you are finished so the world can see it. If you would like me to look over your theme when you are finished to see if everything is working ok and my opinion then you may email me with the URL (where your theme is stored on the Web) and give me some time I will try to look it over.

We highly recommend Desktop Architect in the creation and packaging of themes. It is a great program and is FREEWARE. This program will include the new Web view items, and startup/shutdown screens; plus it will also package your theme into it's own zip or exe file to distribute on the web. 

Theme Name

Decide what you want to call the Theme. Create a folder in C:\Program Files\PLUS!\Themes name it what you want the name of your theme to be. This keeps everything in one place for you to keep everything organized.

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Chose your background picture. Make sure it is in .bmp form. Place your bitmap into your new folder you created. You might want to then change the name to the same name as you named your Theme. For example if your theme is going to be called Mountain then rename this bitmap to say Mountain.bmp. Right click on your desktop, click properties, then click on Background browse to you new folder and choose your wallpaper.

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Color Scheme

Right click on your desktop, click on properties, then click on appearances. You can chose the colors and fonts you want that complements the new wallpaper. After you've picked your new colors and fonts then click on the save as and save it with the name of your new theme. Example: Mountain. Click on apply.

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Cursors and Icons

I use MicroAngelo 98 and IconEasel 98 to create my cursors (creates animated cursors too) and icons. These are very good products well worth the money. If you would like to try it out there is a demo version to download click on their names above. If your not going to create your own, you can find lots of cursors and icon packages on the internet. These packages are usually free for personal use. If you use cursors or icons from these packages or from another theme make sure they are not copyrighted and rename them with your new theme name and short description. Example: Mountain wait.cur then move it to your new theme folder. This makes it much easier to put all your theme components into your theme, and for the people who download your theme to recognize which files go to which themes.
You can draw it yourself or copy and paste a piece of clipart or photo; and then fix it up with a cursor and icon software product.

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you can find these wav. files on the internet or create your own. There are products like Gold wave or Cool edit you can use to edit and manipulate wav. files. Then name them after your new theme. Example: Mountain recycle.wav. Move them to your new theme folder. The trick to deciding on your sound is choosing ones to fit each event. Don't make these too long because it gets on peoples nerves and they will download a different theme to replace yours.

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Screen Savers

You need a software program to help you with this part. There are so many I couldn't even list them. 

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Next to Last Step

Now all you have to do is make it a theme. We are going to apply all your components to your desktop and create the theme file. Right click on your desktop, click on properties and then backgrounds choose your new bmp. file under wallpapers and click on apply (if you haven't already done so.). While your here decide if you would like it to be tiled or centered. Click on the one you decided on.  
Now while your still in there go to the appearances tab and choose the scheme you saved earlier, click on apply.
Now go to the Plus! tab still in the properties window. Click on change icon and browse for your new icons that you saved in your new theme folder.
Now click on start, then settings, then control panel and select the mouse. Go to the pointers tab an go down the list and browse for each of your new cursors in your new theme folder. Click save as, naming it after your new theme, and then click on apply.
Now go to the control panel again this time select sounds. Go down the list and browse for each sound in your new theme folder. Click on save as, naming it after your new theme name, then click on apply.
Finally, go to the control panel again and select desktop themes. Click on save as, now naming your theme, then click on apply.

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Startup/Shutdown Screens

If you are interested in creating Win 95/98 Startup/Shutdown screens to go with your theme you need to create or edit a picture you have in your graphic editor such as Paint shop or Photoshop and make sure this image is  320x400 pixels and saved as 256 color RGB Encoded Bitmap. Then you can put them in your theme folder and open up a utility like ZD logo animator and resave the startup screen as logo.sys and the wait screen as logow.sys and the safe to shutdown screen as logos.sys, you can also use this utility to animate your logo screens.  To implement them into your desktop:

*.sys file type is usually hidden in most people's computers under Win95. You might have trouble in finding *.sys files for copying files. Go to Explorer choose View menu, then select Options... in the dialog, enable "Show all files" or use a DOS window, in which most *.sys files can be viewed normally. I usually just use the find function entering c:*sys (or whatever is your hard drive) This file is usually in c: or in c:\windows Extract the new .SYS file to a temporary directory.

  1.  Move (backup) original "start-up" logo, "LOGO.SYS" from the root directory of your boot drive, usually C:\ to another temporary directory. (If you are using a compression utility or cannot locate the logo.sys file, please see the notes below.)

  2.  Use DOS window or Explorer to copy new logo file to the root directory, renaming the new copy to "LOGO.SYS" (If you are using a compression utility, please see the notes below.) Example of DOS command: copy c:\temp_dir\xrxlogo.sys c:\logo.sys

  3. Restart your computer and you're done!
    * Note *
    If you are using a compression utility on your boot drive, you must put logo.sys in the host for that drive. (For example, if drive C: is compressed and its host is the G: drive, then logo.sys should be placed in the root directory of the G: drive.)

  4. The default logo.sys is embedded in io.sys file. If you cannot find logo.sys in your drives, including the host drive (see above), chances are Win95 is using the logo that is embedded in io.sys as your start up logo. In this case, you don't have logo.sys to backup. Simply place the new logo.sys
    in the root directory of your boot (host) drive. Logo.sys in the root directory will take precedence of the one embedded in io.sys file. To get back to the original win95 logo, simply rename the logo.sys to other name.

  5. * To restore the original win95 logo, you must save (backup) the
    file in step 1. Then just copy the original logo to the
    designated directory.

Thanks to Rob Chen for these instruction on installing *.sys files.

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Submit your themes to Themes Unlimited to be posted for the world to see!! Happy designing to you.

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Last modified: Tuesday, February 28, 2006