Halloween is upon us once again. What better time of year to learn how to terrorise your PC than with haunting Halloween themes? Forget the pumpkin-spiced lattes, Day of the Dead celebrations and hordes of (undead!) children attacking your homestead. Windows is surprisingly customisable. We show you how it’s done, including themes you can use.
Choosing a Windows Theme Pack
Before turning your desktop into the nightmarish experience you require, you’ll need to locate a Windows theme pack. For this tutorial we will be using the free Windows Trick or Treat theme, but this method will also work nearly any other Windows theme pack you stumble across.
However, remember to check compatibility to avoid disappointment as most theme packs are currently only developed for:
- Windows 8.1
- Windows 8
- Windows RT8.1
- Windows RT8
- Windows 7 Home Premium
- Windows 7 Professional
- Windows 7 Enterprise
- Windows 7 Ultimate
If the Trick or Treat theme is too mild for your viewing pleasure, be sure to check out the other Halloween themes on offer from Windows for a range of different wallpapers, aero-modifications and a smattering of new sounds. For safety, we have selected themes from the Windows download centre, which has a great selection of Windows verified themes waiting for you.
Eerie Autumn offers a traditional Halloween theme: bats, spooky woods and pumpkins, though the foggy, deserted bridge is a personal favourite in this pack:
Ticket to Fear is a little darker than our selection and the previous entry, but this is perfect for the real horror fans amongst us:
Halloween Theme comes from an external source and, to be honest, offers the weakest visual package. However, it does redeem itself with a version of the ‘Halloween’ theme music and some wolf howls, so it could be worth a look:
A number of external theme sites offer themes as well, but we would urge caution when downloading and installing from a potentially unknown source – you don’t want any real gremlins lurking in your desktop!
Select and Download
Now, the really fun part – changing your Windows theme. Luckily, Microsoft don’t want us rooting around in the depths of our operating systems and as such have made it extremely easy for us to change themes on the go.
First we need to download our theme:
You’ll want to click the ‘Download theme’ button. The Trick or Treat theme is a miniscule download at 1.66MB, so should only take a moment. Next, we need to locate our Windows theme pack file. Depending on what Internet browser you are using (we are using Chrome for this example), you can now right-click the notification bar to bring up a context menu, like so:
Install your Theme
Selecting ‘Open’ will immediately execute the file. If you have the correct version of Windows installed (See Choosing a Windows theme pack) it will instantly install the theme and update your desktop. Selecting ‘Show in folder’ will open your download folder where you can access your file. Once in your download folder, you can double click the Trick or Treat theme pack:
Which will install your theme, turning your desktop into a delightful Halloween themed affair with pumpkins and owls, or zombies and ethereal theatre attendants, depending on your theme choice. If you have followed the tutorial your desktop should now look like this:
The theme has automatically changed your personalisation settings for Desktop Background, Window Colour and Sounds. If you install any other Windows theme packs you can access them through the Personalisation window, found in the Control Panel or by right-clicking the desktop to access the context menu.
Non-Windows verified installations
Now, we mentioned earlier that you should be careful when accessing downloads outside the verified Windows offerings. You should, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go looking for additional Halloween themes.
This Halloween Skin Pack is a total skin conversion – that is, on installation, the theme completely changes the entire Windows ecosystem: your Taskbar, Start menu, window colour, sounds, pointers and more. There a couple of major differences here for you to consider:
- Theme packs change your theme – window colour, sounds etc. The Skin Pack modifies lots of different aspects of Windows. Consider if you want your entire system to be terrifying.
- Skin Packs usually require additional software for optimisation and as such, instead of a single click installation usually require an installer containing the different pieces of software for the theme to run. This can contain additional docks, start-menu replacements, boot screen modifications and more.
- Always read the comments section of any site before you download!
- Make sure to set a system restore point before installing any non-verified theme pack.
If at any point you wish to uninstall just head to:
Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Programs and Features
And find ‘SkinPack Halloween’ with your corresponding version, select all options and hit uninstall:
Your operating system should reboot into the last theme you used – for me that meant more pumpkins!
All the Spooky Sounds
Perhaps the best part of modifying your Windows theme is the sounds. Our example theme pack, Trick or Treat, comes with 12 new sounds that you can access through the personalisation panel you can see in the following screenshot:
The sounds installed for the Trick or Treat theme are called ‘Eerie Autumn’ and you can cycle through the complete range in the drop-down menu located at the bottom of the sound properties window. Personal favourite in this collection:
Play around with the other themes we have linked, as they all come with a custom sound set designed to change several of the core Windows sounds we are accustomed to. The same can be said of the non-verified Windows theme packs.
When you’re done with your computer, take it one step further with geeky Halloween DIY house decorations.
What do you do to your computer for Halloween? Do you have any digital recipes to share?