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  • Extracting Windows 7 Backgrounds from Theme Files
Technology Articles > Software > Desktop > Extracting Windows 7 Backgrounds from Theme Files

Windows 7 introduced a significantly revamped (and improved) method for handling themes and wallpapers. Most notably, you can have multiple desktop wallpapers that automatically cycle through at a regular interval. For Windows 7 users, this is a much appreciated feature, adding some variety to a normally static Windows desktop experience. But when it comes to sharing your Windows backgrounds, it becomes a little more difficult.

Windows 7 bundles up its themes into a Windows Theme Pack file. While it is all well and good for sharing Windows 7 themes with other Windows 7 users, it makes it difficult to share certain elements of your Windows 7 theme with users of previous versions of Windows, such as Windows Vista and Windows XP. You can certainly copy a Windows Theme Pack file to a disc or USB drive and transfer it to a Windows Vista computer, but the operating system won’t know how to handle it. In spite of having all of the necessary files you are looking for, you won’t be able to access them and utilize them in the manner your envisioned since they are archived within the Windows Theme Pack file.

So, in order to share a Windows 7 background from a Windows 7 theme with a Vista or XP user, you’ll have to extract the individual image file form the theme file. Here’s how:

Step One

Download a free archive extraction tool called 7-Zip. Practically any archive software will work, but 7-Zip is free and easy to use. Get it at http://www.7-zip.org/. Install it.

Step Two

In Windows 7, click the Start orb and type in Change the Theme and press Enter.

Step Three

Right-click the theme that contains the desktop wallpaper you’d like to share and choose “Save theme for sharing.”

Step Four

Locate the theme file that you just saved in Step Three. Make sure that 7-Zip is installed at this point.

Step Five

Right-click the themepack file and choose “Open archive” from the 7-Zip contextual menu.

Step Six

Locate a folder called “DesktopBackground.” Open it.

Step Seven

This is where all the original image files for the desktop backgrounds are stored. Copy and paste or drag and drop them outside of the archive.

Step Eight

You can now share the extracted image files with any user. In fact, because they are regular image files, you can even share them with OS X or Linux users.

Additional Tips

You may have also noticed that in the root folder of the themepack file, there’s a file with a .theme extension. This is a plain text file that contains all the settings for the theme you’ve saved for sharing. Open it in Notepad.exe and you can alter certain attributes of the theme by hand, such as transparency, Aero settings and sounds.

Remember: this tip is for extracting the wallpaper image files for a theme so you can share it with users who aren’t running Windows 7. If you are trying to share your Windows 7 theme with another Windows 7 user, you can simply open the original themepack file on the other computer. Enjoy!