So in the previous post I highlighted a new dynamic RSS fed Windows 7 theme that featured photos from my wife’s garden. I want to share with you in this second post just how you can create your own dynamic theme with just a few extra steps in front of the typical built in sharing that Windows 7 offers through Theme Packs.
First you need a theme file and for this we are just going to utilize one of the files that are already included in Windows 7. No reason to retype all the information to add just a few lines at the bottom.
So browse on your PC with Windows Explorer to X:\Windows\Resources\Themes (X:\ being your default drive which Windows is installed on – most of the time this is C:\)
In this directory you will see a collection of theme files like this:
We are going to use that highlighted file which is the default Windows 7 Aero Theme. Just Right Click on that file and choose Copy. You can now close Windows Explorer and head back to your desktop.
Find a blank space on your desktop and Right Click once again and this time choose Paste. This should place a copy of the aero.theme file on your desktop.
Open the Start Menu and type in notepad and start Notepad. Once it opens just Left Click and drag the aero.theme file into Notepad’s editing area – this will open up the file for editing.
Here is the text you will see in Notepad:
; Copyright © Microsoft Corp.
; Windows 7 – IDS_THEME_DISPLAYNAME_AERO
; Computer – SHIDI_SERVER
; UsersFiles – SHIDI_USERFILES
; Network – SHIDI_MYNETWORK
; Recycle Bin – SHIDI_RECYCLERFULL SHIDI_RECYCLER
Now your not going to make any changes to this existing text but we are going to add the following to the end of that file:
These four lines tell the theme that you want a slide show for the backgrounds, how much time between them changing/cycling (30 minutes), turns shuffle on and then provides the source for the pictures from an RSS feed. Paste these four lines into the bottom of the aero.theme file you are editing in Notepad and make sure you add your own URL for an RSS feed with pictures in it otherwise your going to get my wife’s garden photos. I am using a feed from flickr for this one but any RSS theme that contains photos as enclosures will work.
Save the file your editing and close Notepad down since your done editing with it.
The next step is to activate the new theme. Just click the aero.theme file on your desktop and it should activate and open the Desktop Personalization dialog.
You will now see your dynamic RSS theme under the My Themes collection but you will notice the name is Windows 7. That is because the file we used to get started had that as the default name. You can change this by Right Clicking on your new theme and choosing Save theme. You can name it whatever you want to at this point.
When you do this your new dynamic theme will show up in the window with the name you just gave it but you will also still have the theme named Windows 7 there.
Just Right Click on the Windows 7 theme under My Themes and choose Delete theme. You will get asked to confirm this before the deletion occurs.
My last recommendation is that you go back to your desktop and keep that dynamic theme you created in the early steps of this process with the additional lines in it. This makes for a great starting point in the future if you want to create additional dynamic RSS themes. In those future cases you just need to change the RSS feed and then repeat the above steps to personalize it.
Now this is a dynamic theme so you need to add pictures to your source every once in a while otherwise that defeats the purpose of being dynamic.
One last tidbit for when you install the new dynamic theme on your PC. You will get a dialog box asking whether or not you want to download the attachments for the theme – be sure to select this so the photos download to your system for display.
If you have any questions about this process let us know in the comments.