How to install unsigned themes in Windows 8

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 28, 2013
Updated • Jun 13, 2019

While you have some versatility when it comes to themes in Windows 8, you can't just go ahead and install third party themes in it. Microsoft is protecting the system from that, and if you are craving for themes that change more than some colors and background wallpapers, you do need to look for third party themes for that.

Before you can do so though you need to patch the three system files themeui.dll, UXInit.dll and uxtheme.dll on Windows 8. Do not worry though, there are tools out there that can patch those files for you. I suggest you download and install UxStyle which is available for Windows 8 in an experimental version. An alternative to that is Ultra UX Theme Patcher.

UxStyle installs itself as a service that modifies the three Windows system files in RAM. What this means is that that the files remain untouched on the hard drive so that they can be updated via Windows Update whenever Microsoft releases updates for them.

So, all you need to do is install the program on Windows 8. You will notice that a new service is added to Windows. It is called Unsigned Themes and enables the use of third party themes on the system.

Theme Folder

First thing you need to know is where you place themes that you create by your own or download from the Internet. Windows stores themes in c:\windows\resources\themes. You need to add new themes to this directory structure to use them on the system. Usually that means adding a .theme file to the root of the folder, and a directory with theme contents to it as well.

unsigned windows themes

To use the theme, simply execute the theme file in the root folder. You should receive a notification that Windows is applying the changes which should not take longer than a couple of seconds.

Where to get themes

When you search for Windows 8 themes on a search engine like Google or Bing, you do get a lot of results that provide you with basic themes, those that you can install without having to modify system files first.

A good location to start theme hunting is Deviant Art. You can use this favorites list as a starting point. It lists more than 20 different themes for Windows 8 that have been published on the site. To get additional themes, use the search on the site to find them.

Another location for visual styles themes is this site which seems to review them regularly.

Here are a couple of themes to get you started.

Space Blueberries 4.8 (no longer available)

space blueberries 4 8 screenshot


A light theme with a focus on white / blue / grey colors.

winter8 theme screenshot

Royale 8 (not available)

Brings the Windows 8 Pro Royale theme to Windows 8.

royale 8 for windows 8 pro screenshot


The theme that I'm currently running on Windows 8 Pro is called Minimal.

the minimal theme windows 8 screenshot

Closing Words

Installing third party themes in Windows 8 is not a complicated process at all, provided that you make the necessary modifications to the three system files first. While you won't find thousands of themes yet for the system, you will find a solid selection of themes to pick one from that suites your taste the best.

How to install unsigned themes in Windows 8
Article Name
How to install unsigned themes in Windows 8
Find out how to install so-called unsigned themes in Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system; links to tools and themes provided.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

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