Applying Windows Themes to users




Applying Windows Themes to all users

The following FAQ applies to Windows 7, 8.x and 10.

Applying Themes to logged on users can be done using "Policies".
This FAQ describes an alternative to using "Policies".

Be creative: Create a Theme

Select a default Theme to start with

Change what you want to change:

If all goes well, an "unsaved theme" will appear:


Save the Theme with a name:


Copy the created Theme to a "Public" location

Now a "tricky" part of this procedure: Windows does save this Theme in a personal folder. Windows assumes that this Theme is only for the logged in user.
Therefore you need to find out where the Theme is saved, and then copy it to a public folder on the AADServer, such that every user can use this Company-Theme.

Find the Theme:

The logged-on user in this example is called "testuser". The Theme is saved in a personal folder of this user.
To make it extra difficult to see this folder, it might be a hidden folder. It might be required to change folder settings and show all hidden folders:


Copy the created theme to a Public Folder

Create a Public Theme folder.

A folder below C:\ProgramData is a good idea, because then default users, users without Administrator-rights, can only "read" the Company-theme, but can not change it:


Copy the Company-theme to this "Theme" folder:


Obtain the Microsoft ThemeTool.exe

ThemeTool.exe is a tool from Microsoft that can be used to change Themes in batchfiles. Obtaining this tool from Microsoft is a bit difficult; there is no direct download link. It is part of a "theme-restore-recover-your-PC" procedure on Windows. You can download it from our website.

Download it, and place it in C:\Windows. After you have downloaded it, start it 1 time. ThemeTool.exe is a .Net application, and it requires the .Net environment. If this is not installed yet on your Server, a popup will show. This popup will download the required .Net files from the Microsoft-website:

If you start "themetool.exe" and this popup does not appear, then the required .Net files are most likely OK and already installed on the AADS Terminal Server.

Try the "themetool":

If all goes well, the Theme on your current desktop is changed to the Company-Theme.

As far as we know, based on some internet-searching, ThemeTool.exe has the following commandline options:

This information is "as is" and can be changed at any moment. Microsoft has not documented anything about ThemeTool.exe.


Create a batchfile

Create the following batchfile, and call it "ApplyCompanyTheme.cmd".
In this example, the batchfile is placed in the folder C:\ProgramData\Themes.
The program ThemeTool.exe from Microsoft is placed into C:\Windows.

set vIsThemeRunning=1
set vKeyName="HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ThemeManager\Remote\%SessionID%"
set vValueName="ThemeActive"
for /f "usebackq tokens= 3" %%A in (`reg query "%vKeyName%" /v "%vValueName%"`) do (set vIsThemeRunning=%%A)
echo %vIsThemeRunning%
if "%vIsThemeRunning%"=="1" themetool ChangeTheme "C:\ProgramData\Themes\big company default theme.theme"
rem #
rem # clean up
set vIsThemeRunning=
set vKeyName=
set vValueName=

The batch-file will only apply the Theme if the Remote Desktop Session is running with Themes Enabled. See further in this FAQ about Client-options, enabling or disabling Themes.


AADS Application Control

When using AADS Application Control, create an AutoStart Entry as follows:


Client RDP Program

A user might disable Themes, because of performance reasons. Themes do require a bit more bandwidth / network speed between the Client and the Server. When using a slow internet connection, a Remote Desktop Session without Themes will perform quicker, smoother then a Remote Desktop Session with Themes. When working on an internal company network, Themes will usually not slow down the Remote Desktop Session.

Be sure to start the Client-RDP program in such a way that Themes are shown in the Remote Desktop Session:

AADS Client Software for Windows


MS-RDP Client for Windows


AADS Client for OSX or Linux

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