How to edit the Windows Vista Visual Style

The GUI interface of Windows Vista is one of the most popular interface in the operating system market today. But what if you wish to customize your Windows Vista according to your own wish? In this article, you can learn how to edit the Vista Visual Style according to your specifications.

Edit Windows Visual Style


You can download the following free tools from their respective home pages.

  • Resource Hacker
  • Replacer
  • TakeControl
  • VistaGlazz
  • LogonStudio Vista

Vista System files Editing:

In Windows Vista, the files which hold the normal GUI data have been replaced from .dll to .dll.mui. If you try to open a specific .dll of any application, you will only be able to edit the BITMAP section only. So if you wish to edit the GUI of any application, you will have to search for a .dll.mui file, mostly.

Opening explorer.exe file :

Open Resource Hacker and navigate to “%windir%\System32\en-US\” or “%windir%\en-US\”.

Change the Files of type: to All Files (*.*) .

Now you will be able to see lots of *.dll.mui files. These are the files which you need to open and edit in your resource hacker. The important files which can be edited are:

  • Sysdm.cpl.mui – “%windir%\System32\en-US\” (System Properties dialog box)
  • Shell32.dll.mui – “%windir%\System32\en-US\” (Changing basic things like run dialog box, menu items etc.)
  • Authui.dll.mui – “%windir%\System32\en-US\” (Shutdown dialog box and more)
  • Explorer.exe.mui – “%windir%\en-US\” (Windows Explorer menu and style)
  • Netshell.dll.mui – “%windir%\System32\en-US\” (Internet connection icon and style appearing in system tray)
  • Stobject.dll.mui – “%windir%\System32\en-US\” (System tray icons and style)
  • Comdlg32.dll.mui – “%windir%\System32\en-US\” (Basic dialog box such as color change, open\save etc.)
  • Winlogon.exe.mui – “%windir%\System32\en-US\” (Text and style of basic logon screen)

However, you can always try editing other files which are not mentioned here !

While trying to save your file you will be prompted with an error

Now, in order to overcome this problem, you will have to use TakeControl or Replacer. TakeControl is still in its Beta2 state. It easily gives you full read or write access of any System File but fails for the files which are currently being used. After you have taken control of a file, you will have to use Replacer to replace it. It is one of the most powerful shell script which can replace any file in what so ever condition it is.

However Replacer has few drawbacks in Vista Environment.

1. Drag-Drop is not available.

2. After replacing a file, it creates a “.ReplacerTemp” namedfolder in the same directory from which it was executed. This folder needs to be deleted everytime to make it replace other file or else it gives and error.

Vista Themes: Installing a 3rd party theme in Vista requires you to patch System and Msstyle files. In order to patch these files, you will have to download VistaGlazz utility.

If you wish to apply a downloaded 3rd party theme, you will have to save the Contents of the downloaded theme to


In the downloaded package, you will have 1 folder and 1 .theme files.

Copy both of them to windir%\resources\themes\ .

Now right click on desktop > Personalize > themes.  Select the name of your downloaded theme and click Apply > OK.Vista Logon Screen: Vista does not provides any support for changing the look and feel of Logon Screen but Stardock’s LogonStudio Vista is a great freeware with which you can easily create and change your own Vista Logon Screen.

Try to use a JPEG file with the highest possible resolution or else, use HD Wallpapers, to avoid mosaic in your logon screens !

Authored By: Abhishek Dwivedi

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
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