Because we have covered the options provided in the Style XP window, we have in effect already walked through the process of skinning Windows XP with Style XP. But let's summarize the process in terms of pulling together all the various skin elements.
Creating a skin using Style XP is really a matter of selecting options on the various screens discussed in the previous sections and then saving these selections under a new theme name. When that theme is applied, all the other setting choices made are applied skinning the Windows interface.
The easiest way to create a new theme that includes custom skin settings (such as the visual style and background) is to select the various skin elements before you name (create) the theme.
Two of the most important elements of a theme (or skin, because they are really interchangeable when you are working with Style XP) are the visual style and background. First, in the Style XP window select Visual Styles. Select a visual style from the list (you can download and add visual styles as needed) and click Apply Style to Current Theme.
The next step is to click Backgrounds, select a background, and then apply it to the current theme by clicking Apply Background to Current Theme. Now you can create your new theme.
Click Theme on the left side of the Style XP window; the selected theme name is now Current (see Figure 6.15). So, you'll create your new theme based on Current so it includes the visual style and background you selected.
Figure 6.15. Create a new theme from scratch.
Click Create New Theme. The Create a New Theme dialog box opens (see Figure 6.16). Select the Copy an Existing Theme option button.
Figure 6.16. Create a new theme based on the current theme.
Type a name for your theme in the Choose a Name for Your New Theme box. Then click OK.
Now your new theme contains a visual style and a background selection. You probably are wondering why I didn't have you select a new icon set (on the Style XP Icons screen) and then apply it so it could be saved as part of the theme. Well, Icons settings, Explorer Bar settings, and Logons settings don't become an integral part of the theme. After following the steps we have discussed for creating the theme, you have to also apply new icon and Explorer Bar settings for the theme. This means that each time you apply the theme you have to also go through the process of applying an icon set and Explorer bar icons if you want special settings other than the XP default to be part of your overall skin.
The only way around the desktop icon situation is to create a theme in the manner discussed in Chapter 4. Then at least desktop icons are included as part of the theme information file.
After you have created the theme and then selected any custom icon or Explorer bar sets, you have, in effect, created a custom skin. If you also want to select a custom screensaver, you need to do this on the Screensaver tab of the Display Properties dialog box. You can open the Display Properties dialog box from Style XP by clicking Display Properties on the Theme screen. You can download screensavers from a number of websites for your theme/skin.
So, as I have stated (probably more than once), your skin is a combination of theme elements and other settings that customize the Windows interface. The Style XP window makes it easy to quickly select and then test various skin elements until you have all the settings the way you want them.
Your theme/skin can also include a custom logon and boot screen. See Chapter 14, "But It Doesn't Look Like Windows XP," for more about these skin elements.