Operating Systems

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Themes are often used to change the look and feel of a wide range of things at once, which makes them much less granular than allowing the user to set each option individually. For example, you might want the window-borders from a particular theme, but installing it would also alter your desktop background.

One method for dealing with this is to allow the user to select which parts of the theme they want to load, for example in Windows 98, you could load the background and screensaver from a theme, but leave your icons and sounds untouched.

Microsoft Windows supported themes since Windows 98. This operating system and its successor, Windows ME, came with themes that customized desktop backgrounds, icons, user interface colors, Windows sounds and mouse cursors. A separate application package called Plus! for Windows 95 added the same features to Windows 95. Windows XP themes expanded Windows theme support by customizing the visual style of the user interface. This feature was carried over to Windows Vista, which added Windows Aero, but was removed again withWindows 8. Third-party apps such as Window Blinds, TuneUp Utilities and Desktop Architect enhance theme capabilities.Linux operating systems may support themes depending on their window managers and desktop environments. IceWM uses themes to customize its taskbar, window borders, and time format. WindowMaker can store colors for icons, menus, and window-borders in a theme, but this is independent of the wallpaper settings. GNOME and KDE use two independent sets of themes: one to alter the appearance of user interface elements (such as buttons, scroll bars or list elements), and another theme to customize the appearance of windows (such as, window borders and title bars).Mac OS is does not natively support themes. Third-party apps such as Kaleidoscope and ShapeShifter may add this.

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