Friday, November 4, 2011

Possible Solution for Windows 7 Theme Pack Install Failure

Windows 7 introduced theme packs, which are executable files that contain all of the necessary assets that together make the theme, including wallpapers, sound files, Windows color and appearance setting, mouse pointers, screensavers and icons. Microsoft just revealed a peculiar problem around theme packs that prevents their installation, and a solution to the problem.

Sometime a theme pack refuses to install. It might be a downloaded one or you might have pieced it together yourself. Although it was created like usual, double-clicking on the theme pack file does nothing. This may occur if the name of the theme has a space in the 9th character.

Here is an example:


Because the space between the words “of” and “prey” falls in the 9th position of the name, a theme pack created using this name would not work. But if the theme pack is saved with a different name, such that the 9th character is not a space, for example “Predatory Birds, ” it works.


Theme packs downloaded from Microsoft won’t have this problem because all packs are intuitively named so as not to leave the 9th character blank. The problem might occur with themes downloaded from third parties or ones you have created by your self.

Simply renaming the filename will not rename the theme pack. To rename a theme pack, you have to follow the steps below.

  1. Change the extension of the theme pack that’s not working from .themepack to .cab. You can easily change file extension using Change File Extension Shell Menu
  2. Extract the contents of the .cab file to a folder. Simply double click the .cab file.
  3. Inside, you will find a file with the extension .theme. Open the file in a text editor.
  4. Examine the DisplayName. If there is a blank space in the 9th character, you’ll know why the theme is not working. Edit the theme name to remove the blank space.


  5. Save the file.

Now you will have to pack the edited theme back into a .themepack file. To do that download CabPack, a freeware compression program with which you can create cabinet.

  1. Open CabPack. In the Source directory, locate the folder which contains the edited theme pack files. In the Destination directory, enter the location where you want to save the theme pack.


  2. Check the box ‘Recurse subdirectories’.
  3. Enter a filename in the CabinetNameTemplate field. This can be any name and doesn’t conform to the 9th-character requirement.
  4. Click OK to create the .cab file.
  5. Change the extension of the .cab file back to .themepack

Double click the .themepack file to install. The theme should be working now.

Note: This article applies to only theme packs and not Windows 7 themes in the form of visual styles which are two different things.


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