Becoming Familiar with the StarSkin Interface

StarSkin provides a tabbed window that allows you to quickly access the elements that make up a skin. The tabs on the StarSkin window include Themes, Styles, Desktop, Boot Screens, Logon Screens, and Setup. Let's take a look at each tab.


A Help button is available on each tab of the StarSkin window and enables you to quickly access the StarSkin Help system.

The Themes Tab

The Themes tab, which is similar to the Themes tab of the Display Properties dialog box, minus the Save As button, enables you to select any themes that are installed on your computer (refer to Figure 6.17). This includes themes that come with StarSkin, themes you download, and themes you have created (see Chapter 4 for more about creating your own themes).


If you don't see any downloaded themes in the list, you need to go to the StarSkin Setup tab and select Enable All Themes. This shows themes that are not digitally signed (meaning by Microsoft).

To select a new theme, click the Theme drop-down list and select a theme from the list. To apply the selected theme, click the Apply button. The custom themes and many of the themes you download from (the default site for downloading StarSkin themes, visual styles, and other interface elements) are in reality skins and include a theme (including desktop icons), a visual style, and a background. Figure 6.18 shows a StarSkin theme that has been applied to the Windows GUI. Note that it includes a visual style and custom background.

Figure 6.18. StarSkin themes are, in effect, skins.

The Theme tab also includes a Restore button and a Restore Defaults button. The Restore button restores the XP theme, visual style, and desktop wallpaper, whereas the Restore Defaults button restores the XP theme, visual style, desktop background, and logon and boot screens. So, in both cases, these buttons provide a sort of reset scenario that returns the interface to the XP default.

When you have made your theme selection, you can close the StarSkin window by clicking Close. A message box appears asking whether you want to minimize StarSkin to the system tray or close the application window. Click Yes to place StarSkin in the system tray; click No to close StarSkin.

The Themes tab includes a Get More Themes link (the Styles, Boot Screens, and Logon Screens tabs also include links for additional downloads) that enables you to download themes from We discuss downloading themes and other skin elements for StarSkin later in this chapter.

The Styles Tab

The Styles tab (see Figure 6.19) enables you to apply styles from the style list, choose color schemes, and change the font size (Normal, Large Fonts, or Extra Large Fonts, which are the same choices found on the Appearance tab of the Display Properties dialog box). Click the Visual Style drop-down list to select a new style. If the style has more than one color scheme, you can select the color scheme you want to use by selecting it in the Color drop-down list.

Figure 6.19. The StarSkin Styles tab.

After you have made your selections on this tab, click Apply to apply the visual style (and other tab settings) to the Windows interface. As with the Themes tab, you can restore the Windows XP theme, visual style, and background by clicking the Restore button.

The Desktop Tab

The StarSkin Desktop tab provides access to the settings related to the theme background (see Figure 6.20). You can select a background from the Background scroll box or use the Browse button to locate additional background files.

Figure 6.20. The StarSkin Desktop tab.


The Desktop tab also includes a Restore button that allows you to restore the theme, visual style, and background to the Windows default.

You can also select how the background is shown on the desktop using the Position drop-down list. You can stretch (Stretch) the background image (to cover the desktop), center (Center) the image on the desktop, or tile (Tile) the image (repeat the image as a tile to cover the desktop).

The Boot Screens and Logon Screens Tabs

The next two tabs on the StarSkin window relate to the changing of boot and logon screens. Boot screens can be a little tricky, so we discuss using them later in the book in Chapter 13, which also includes a look at logon screens.

It is important to note at this point, however, that StarSkin does let you easily change your Windows logon and boot screens. Also, both of these skin elements can be downloaded directly from the StarSkin window (using the appropriate tab).

For example, on the Logon Screens tab, you can click the Get More Logon Screens link. This opens Internet Explorer and takes you to the website. After downloading a logon screen, you have to unzip itthey come as executable files with a .exe extension. Returning to the StarSkin window, you can browse for the logon screen and select it. It appears in the StarSkin window on the Logon Screens tab (see Figure 6.21). This is now the selected logon screen and will be shown when you log on to Windows at startup. It will also be shown when you log off or exit Windows.

Figure 6.21. Logon screens can be loaded on the Logon Screens tab.

The Setup Tab

The StarSkin Setup tab provides several settings you should be familiar with. These options are set using a series of check boxes (see Figure 6.22).

Figure 6.22. The StarSkin Setup tab.

All the options are enabled by default (as shown in Figure 6.22). They are as follows:

  • Run at Startup This setting loads StarSkin at startup and places it in the system tray.

  • Enable All Themes This setting allows you to view and apply all themes and visual styles. If this check box is not enabled, only the Microsoft digitally signed themes and visual styles appear on the theme or visual style list.

  • Emulate Theme Support This option enables you to skin older applications that do not normally allow the application of themes or visual styles. Not all older applications will skin correctly, however, even with this option selected. So, you need to test any legacy applications you are running on your system (meaning pre-Windows XP-compatible applications).

  • Transparency in System Menu When this check box is selected, all the applications running in Windows are provided a Transparency command on their system menu (accessed by clicking the System icon in the upper-left of any application window). You can then use the Transparency menu choice to set the transparency for that particular application window. For example, Figure 6.23 shows the Paint window and the transparency settings provided by the Control menu's Transparency command.

    Figure 6.23. Set the transparency level for any Windows application window.

It is probably best to use the default settings on the Setup tab. In most cases, you want the Enable All Themes and the Emulate Theme Support options enabled.

    Skinning Windows XP
    Skinning Windows XP
    ISBN: 078973348X
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2003
    Pages: 160
    Authors: Joe Habraken © 2008-2017.
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