How to install and apply third party themes in Windows 8.1

We here at Winaero love Windows customization and we post several custom 3rd party visual styles and themepacks from time to time. We have a HUGE and amazing collection of themes for changing the look-n-feel of Windows. But Windows doesn't allow 3rd party themes by default, so we need to unlock Windows to be able to use those themes.

Note: If you are not a Windows 8.1 user, please refer to the following article.

With every new Windows release, Microsoft makes some minor changes to the theme engine and/or its format. This leads to the situation where for every single release, you need a special software (a so called UXTheme patcher) which supports that new release. Windows 8.1 is no exception.

To use third party themes in Windows 8.1, you should follow these simple steps.

How to set a connection as metered in Windows 8.1

Windows 8 introduced the "metered connections" feature. If you enable it, it can reduce the amount of data you send and receive via your limited data plan and help you save money or avoid bill shock. Some Internet service providers can charge by the amount of data used (the amount of data sent and received by your PC). The service provider monitors your Internet connection data use.

With programs and services in Windows communicating with the internet almost all the time today, this data limit can be reached quite easily. If you exceed the data limit you might have to pay extra amount or get your download speed reduced until the next month. If you have such a limited data plan, setting your network connection as 'metered' in Windows can help you reduce the amount of data you send and receive. Windows turns off unnecessary transfers while on a metered connection and tries to conserve bandwidth.

Now, in Windows 8.1, Microsoft has completely changed the UI for setting a connection as 'metered'.

How to add the “Pin to Start Screen” menu item to all files in Windows 8.1

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft has restricted access to the 'Pin to Start Screen' menu command for 3rd party apps. You might be curious, what does it mean? While in Windows 8, apps were able to get programmatic access to that menu item. You might see such behavior in Mozilla Firefox installer: after the install, it "pins" itself  to the taskbar. The same thing could be implemented in Windows 8, any app was able to pin itself to the Start Screen. Not so in Windows 8.1.

Why did Microsoft do this? Because they wanted to prevent the Start Screen from getting cluttered. Unlike Windows 8 (which pins everything to its Start screen like a maniac), Windows 8.1 keeps its Start Screen clean. As a result of these changes, the command I mentioned above is now strictly accessible only from Explorer! This is also why my application, Pin To 8, was not able to pin anything to the Start screen.

Today I will show you, how you can extend File Explorer in Windows 8.1 and add the ability to pin ANY file or object to the Start Screen. No 3rd party apps will be required, only a simple registry tweak.

Discover hidden secret bug in Registry Editor of Windows

While working with Registry Editor (Regedit.exe) the other day, I discovered a rather strange and funny bug in it. I decided to share it with our readers.  It's not a major bug and is perfectly harmless. But it is a bug so Microsoft ought to fix it.  To reproduce the bug, you should do the following:

How to open the Desktop context menu on a touch screen in Windows 8

I have been asked many times by my friends who bought a Windows 8 tablet on how to open the Desktop context menu. Even for people who're familiar with using the touchscreen UI, the Desktop side in Windows 8 is confusing. It's very easy to access the context menu of the Desktop or any other object in File Explorer.

How to repair Windows Update in Windows 8.1 if it does not work properly

After an improper shutdown, crash, something gone wrong with your Registry or power failure, Windows Update can fail to work properly. It may fail to check for updates or fail to install them, or sometimes, it cannot be opened at all. In this article, I will show you how to reset the state of Windows Update and its components if it stops working.

Where is the ‘ad hoc’ wireless connection feature in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1

If you 'upgraded' from Windows 7 to Windows 8 or directly to Windows 8.1, you might have noticed that ad hoc Wi-Fi (computer-computer) connections are no longer available.  The user interface for setting up an ad hoc connection does not exist any more in the Network and Sharing Center. This can be a bit disappointing. However, with Windows 7 itself, a substitute feature was introduced which is a better replacement for ad hoc wireless connections.

How to change the location of SkyDrive files in Windows 8.1

In Windows 8.1, Microsoft improved the SkyDrive integration with the OS and moved the SkyDrive folder from "Favorites" to a separate item in the navigation pane of Explorer. If you decided to use the Microsoft account as a way of signing in, SkyDrive will be automatically enabled as well as synchronization of settings to SkyDrive. So, you don't need a separate desktop client for SkyDrive any more.

By default, Windows stores your SkyDrive files in a folder located inside your user profile on your system drive, e.g. C:\User\Sergey\SkyDrive. This can become troublesome if you run out of free space of you system drive or if you have large amounts of data stored on SkyDrive's cloud storage. In such a situation, you might want to move the SkyDrive files to another location.

How to limit the Lock Screen Slideshow duration in Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 has a new fancy feature called Lock Screen Slideshow which allows you to play a slideshow of images from your pictures library and SkyDrive too when you lock your PC/Tablet.  Let's revisit the past for a moment , and you will see that this feature (formerly known as "Picture frame") had many tweakable parameters. Unfortunately, most of them are no longer applicable to Windows 8.1 RTM, however, there is one tweak still available for the Lock Screen.

With this simple tweak you will be able to limit the time for which the slideshow plays.