The Return of Black within Windows 8.1

It took me a lot of faffing about over such a long period of time to finally stumble across the right stuff at the right time.

The reason I put up the timer is because I wanted to demonstrate that it even themes properly with an obscure application like this simple Flash-based one. Notice the title bar isn’t black text? It took me a long time to discover a fix for that little problem. The start menu is there courtesy of a third-party program (obviously) which I’ll get to below.

Before doing this, backup your OS partition(s) using something like the Windows “Shadow Copy” feature, a third-party tool, or just gamble with System Restore; this is just in the event that something goes wrong, and for our peace of mind.

Everything was smooth-sailing for me, but should something go awry for you, I won’t be held responsible, for the decision to follow these instructions are solely your own. I also cannot be held responsibile for the pages to which this blog entry links, nor can I do anything about the software I point you towards. I hope you understand.

Now that we’ve got the prelude out of the way, here are the steps I took in order to finally get a fully-functional black theme going in Windows 8.1:

Step #1:
I enlarged the window borders (preference – further ensures the black stands out) by using a similar (Winaero Tweaker) tool to this: Tiny Windows Borders for Windows 8 It wasn’t damaging, does not need to be repeated, and seems to stick even when other settings change, such as another theme. Please ensure you scan all downloads prior to opening them.

Step #2:
I had previously downloaded and installed a brilliant (entirely free, without ads and nags) application that’s small, functional, and, in my opinion, aesthetically pleasing. You can get ClassicShell here: Classic Shell – Start menu and other Windows enhancements This will bring back the start menu, allowing for extra configurations, as well as most of the usual you’d expect from before this OS. Remember to play with the options to get it how you like, clicking “show all settings”, and especially set the skin to “Windows Aero” in order to get that Windows 7 look that goes so well when this is all done.

Step #3:
I downloaded and used UxStyle, which you can download for free. It’s absolutely imperative that you heed my advice of backing up (I used Windows’ own backup feature; use Google something like, “Shadow Copy Windows 8.1” to discover this hidden gem) just in-case something goes awry. I’ve used it a couple of times (and many more with Windows XP and Windows 7) without a problem, but it’s better safe than sorry, as they say. I had to restart the computer after patching Windows with it.

Step #4:
When I had Windows 7, I would use a sleek, black cursor pack called Obsidian, which you can freely download from this link; it goes very well with almost any black theme, I’ve found.

Step #5:
You can of course choose any background you like – I was gravitated pretty strongly towards this one, because I felt it matched it well.

Step #6:
If you use Firefox and would like the matching theme I use on the browser, then follow this step, but if not, skip to #7:

I use, “FT DeepDark,” version 12.0.1, made freely and publicly available by Stefano Rosselli.

Step #7:
The piece de resistance of it all is the main theme (or ‘skin’) which can be downloaded from this link. This pack containers 3 variations, if you fancy a change.

I’ve also recently discovered another theme that works properly and looks great: Base for Windows 8.1 I strongly recommend it. I also recommend checking out the Ribbon Disabler, which also works in Windows 8.1, because it’s handy for certain themes, and good for those who just hate the new ribbon in Windows 8.1!

That’s all there is to it. If this guide was helpful to you, then it would be fantastic if you would share this blog post so others can also benefit.

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