I am attempting to force a specific theme to all machines in my network. I know that the GPO "Load a Specific Theme" in:

User Configuration/Administrative Templates/Control Panel/Personalization

Is meant to be for first login only, however i need to be able to do this for all current users. The main goal is to change the colour of the toolbar/window objects to something other than the default.

This is what i have tried:

  • Created the theme on a PC, exported it and extracted the .theme file and used GPO to transfer this file to the users PC under C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes. This makes it show up in the themes list on the Personalization screen however i have disabled the ability for the user to change these settings at this point. Then using the Load a Specific Theme point to the .theme file within the directory above but this has no effect.
  • Attempted to edit the registry keys: HKCU\Control Panel\Colors and HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\Colors with no effect again even on restart.

I am pulling my hair out here and every other Group Policy is applying and working except for this one, i would really appreciate any help on this. Thanks!


The custom theme shows up in the personalization screen but does not apply

  • Does it work if you use a standard theme (not customized)? – bentek Jul 17 '15 at 14:57

Although they are quite old, here are a couple of different Microsoft hotfixes for issues with this particular group policy setting not applying correctly in Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008. Not sure if they apply in your case, but here they are:

Hotfix #1

Hotfix #2

  • Hi bentek, thanks for your answer, do i apply the hotfix to the server or devices in question? – Recnats Jul 17 '15 at 15:35
  • The client machines. – bentek Jul 19 '15 at 16:01

You're disabling changing the theme then trying to change the theme. Try enforcing the order in which the policies are applied. TechNet


In that situation, I'd check:

  • That the Themes service is working (you don't specify if you get a Windows Classic theme or an Aero one...).
  • Windows Event Log, for errors in Aero and/or GPOs.
  • Commands to check your GPOs, like gporesult in command line, or rsop.msc in Windows GUI environment.

You should find something there, please post it and will try to help from there.

  • Hi curropar, themes are working fine and this issue mainly presents in Windows 8.1 Pro. We disable changing themes/colours/sounds etc by default through GPO. The custom theme shows up in the personalization screen but does not apply – Recnats Jul 17 '15 at 15:36

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