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  How to Replace Your uxtheme.dll File Manually, When Multi-patcher can't...

 
hamesh
post Aug 27 2004, 12:34 AM
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In order to use unsigned themes and visual styles on Windows XP, you have to patch or replace a file named uxtheme.dll on your computer. This file is what controls the new visual styles in XP. In most cases third-party theme managers or the free Multi-Patcher have no problem patching your uxtheme.dll file.

But what do you do when these programs give you an error saying they can't patch your uxtheme.dll file? Or even after installing the program you still can't load themes and styles? Here's how to replace your uxtheme.dll file manually.

  1. Ensure that you do not have the Windows XP installation CD in your cdrom drive.

  2. First, open Windows Explorer and go to Tools --> Folder Options --> View (tab). Put a check mark beside:

    "Show hidden files and folders"

    Then un-check:

    "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)"

    Click Apply and Okay and close Windows Explorer.

  3. Next, click Start --> Search --> All files and folders (button). Click the little plus symbol beside "More advanced options" and put a check mark beside"Search hidden files and folders". The first three items should now be checked. Scroll up and type uxtheme.dl_ in the "All or part of the file name" box and click Search. Wait for the search to finish. When it's done, rename ALL uxtheme.dl_ files to _uxtheme.dl_. Don't worry. These are just backup files.

  4. When done go Back in the Search screen and this time search for uxtheme.dll. Rename ALL to uxtheme.bak (any extension - doesn't matter).

  5. Next, download the pre-patched uxtheme.dll file for you system. Pre-patched uxtheme.dll files for XP SP2 can be found at http://www.withinwindows.com/uxtheme-patches/ or using the direct download links below:

    Many thanks to Rafael Rivera and the many contributors for creating and making these available! You'll need WinRAR to extract these files. See the Notes below for how to check your version of Windows.

  6. UnRar and extract the uxtheme.dll file you downloaded into c:\windows\system32. Within a few seconds of copying the file, you should get a pop-up window titled "Windows File Protection":


    Attached Image


    Click the OK button. You should then see a second Windows File Protection pop-up window asking you to insert your SP2 CD:

    Attached Image

    Click the Cancel button. You'll then get a third pop-up window asking you if you are sure you want to keep the unrecognized file:

    Attached Image


    Click Yes. Wait for it... You'll probably then get yet another pop-up window asking for the SP2 Cd again. At this point ignore the pop-up and REBOOT.

    If you don't these see pop-ups immediately upon copying the downloaded uxtheme.dll file into c:\windows\system32, go back to step 2. There's still a backup copy somewhere you missed.


When your computer restarts, you'll get (you guessed it), another pop-up window saying that your uxtheme.dll file is either unsupported or is patched. Just close the window. You won't see it again.

That's it! You have successfully replaced your uxtheme.dll file with the patched version and should now be able to load up unsigned XP themes and visual styles.

Notes:

Make sure that you download the right uxtheme.dll file for your system.
To check your exact Windows version, go to Start --> All Programs --> Accessories
--> System Tools --> System Information. On the System Summary page (the
first page shown), look at the line that reads "Hardware Abstraction Layer".
It should say something like Version = "5.1.2600.2180 (xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158)":


Attached Image


The last four number (.2180 in this example) must match the version of the
pre-patched uxtheme.dll file you download. To check the file version, right-click
the uxtheme.dll file you downloaded and go to Properties --> Version (tab):

Attached Image


The File Version of the file should match the version listed beside Hardware
Abstraction Layer in System Information. Language can be confirmed here
also.

If the file version does not match that of your system, don't copy the file
into your system32 folder. It won't work.

Why all this trouble?

uxtheme.dll is a protected operating system file. As such, Windows keeps
several copies of uxtheme.dll, plus compressed uxtheme.dl_ files at various locations
on your system as backups. If it senses that uxtheme.dll has been replaced
with a different version, it will immediately overwrite the changed version with
one of it's backup copies. This is why it is necessary to find and rename
all copies of uxtheme.dll and uxtheme.dl_ everywhere on your system. Generally
speaking, there are only a handfull of places these backup copes are stored:

  • The Windows XP installation CD.

  • The Windows XP Service Pack 2 CD.

  • A Windows XP installation folder on your hard drive (HP, Compaq and Dell computers are bad for this - if your system came with a 'Recovery CD' and not an actual 'Windows XP' installation CD, the XP installation files are somewhere on your hard drive, on an additional hard drive or on a parition. Will be in a ~/i386 folder somewhere on your system).

  • C:\Windows\System32

  • C:\Windows\System32\dllcache

  • C:\Windows\System32\LastGood (if exists)

  • C:\Windows\ServicePackFiles\i386


If just one uxtheme.dll or uxtheme.dl_ exists in any of these locations, Windows
will find it. That is why it is necessary to find ALL copies and backups
of this file and rename them so Windows can't find them to overwrite your patched
copy. The reason you want to rename them is so that you can move them back
if you ever have to re-install Windows or SP3 comes out. Windows should
still run without a uxtheme.dll file. You'll just be limited to the Windows
Classic desktop.

Manage Windows XP and Vista Themes and fix and repair problems with Tune-Up Utilities 2008
Recommended Theme Manager Software:

Once you've successfully patched your uxtheme.dll file, check out TuneUp Utilities 2008 for loading and managing themes, visual styles and more all from a single interface.
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iskineseren
post Sep 28 2004, 09:36 AM
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I cant see the Danish dll. So now you have it.

Its for :

SP2 v.6.0.2900.2180

Best regards

Iskineseren
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hamesh
post Sep 28 2004, 10:35 PM
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Thanks much. Added to the list :)
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DayLove
post Oct 19 2004, 05:38 PM
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Unfortunately, I had to boot into safe mode/command prompt to replace the uxtheme.dll file. My systems just kept replacing the files I renamed in every location. Talk about backup...
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Conspiracy
post Oct 22 2004, 09:13 PM
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HELP AHHH!
ok so i followed every step in here and when i extract the patched dll into my sys32 folder i get some wierd winrar error. It says "the process cannot acces the file because it is being used by another process" And then i get this error as well, it says there no files to extract, i have the following options...
1.close
2.break operation
3.copy to clipboard

PLEASE HELP HAMESH

thanks.
-Conspiracy
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hamesh
post Oct 22 2004, 10:19 PM
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I haven't come across that yet. Close any theming programs like StarSkin or Style XP and try again, or do it in safe mode - that usually works.
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snakemike
post Dec 6 2004, 11:40 AM
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I have this REALLY weird thing. I downloaded 6.0.2900.2180_EN.rar. When I extract the file to a random directory, the dll version matches my system. when I copy it to /system32/, the file version changes. I don't seem to have any other backup of the original file on my system. strange behaviour, has anybody else noticed this?
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hamesh
post Dec 6 2004, 02:39 PM
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That's pretty much the exact behaviour if Windows does find a backup copy somewhere. Immediately upon copying the file over, Windows will overwrite it with a backup without even prompting you.

Better search again. There has to be a backup copy somewhere you missed. Ensure you have 'Search hidden files and folders' checked when searching and that you don't have the Windows XP CD in your CDROM and that the Windows XP installation files are not saved somewhere on your computer (i.e. Compaq, Dell, HP).
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cwolfsheep
post Dec 31 2004, 06:14 PM
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If anyone's having any weird issues with getting themes to work, I'm documenting what I can at my website. I already figured out that if you leave uxtheme.dll in your root WINDOWS folder (it should only be in SYSTEM32 & ServicePackFiles), your taskbar & start menu themes will not work. I also put together a reg file for enabling theme support, out of several I found that tried to address the issue.

Wolfsheep Technical: How to Use Custom Themes in Windows XP
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chpatrick
post Dec 31 2004, 06:57 PM
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Uhh, does anyone know where I can find a patched Hungarian SP2 uxtheme.dll? Bloody obscure OS version. :angry:
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SOSAnimeBoy
post Jan 25 2005, 06:51 PM
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Hamesh:

You mention not to replace files if the version doesn't match. If you look at the screenshots above under "Notes", you'll see they DON'T match. The system's is 5.1.2600.2180, and the patch provided here is 6.00.2900.2180. Is this not the file version?

I notice that the latter part, ie. (xpsp_sp2_rtm.040803-2158), is the same. Is that what's important?

PLEASE HELP! :rolleyes:

(Oh, btw, FIRST POST!! :D )
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hamesh
post Jan 26 2005, 04:27 PM
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Oh I see how that could cause confusion. It's actually just the last four numbers (.2180 in the example) that must match. I have updated the article to this effect.
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geekbee
post Apr 23 2005, 03:55 AM
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my version number says : 5.1.2600.0 (xpclient.010817-1148)

i gather i don't have either of the SP installed. is there a file for that even?
can anyone help please? :huh:

i followed all the insturction at the beginning of this post and my themes work, all except that my start bar is stuck in classic mode. is it got to do the file?

does anyone have any suggestions?


i also downloaded and run starskin but same thing with the start bar. also i get an error everytime i run it "cannot patch uxtheme.dll". is that because of the version not matching up?

pleassssssssssssssssse help me :blink:
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HUYI
post Sep 9 2005, 04:09 AM
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what if the file does not exsist on the computer? i checked show all hidden files and searched for that excat filename in the whole computer but nothing came up?
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hamesh
post Sep 9 2005, 08:42 PM
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You also need to uncheck the option that reads 'Hide protected operating system files'. Do that and search again and you should find it.
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