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March 31, 2011

Windows 7 themes: Reusing “custom” sound-schemes

A Facebook reader writes: “I love the Celtic sounds!  So if I download the Ireland theme can I use the Irish sounds with any other theme I want?  I am having trouble finding the sounds on my list when I use another theme.”

Great question! Yes, you can do this, and I’ll tell you how. First, though, I’ll explain this behavior a little bit more.

By default, the Sound control panel only includes the sound-schemes that are shipped with Windows 7.


The list of sound-schemes that come with Windows 7.

You may notice that while you are using a theme that contains a custom sound-scheme, the sound-scheme shows up in the list:


While the Ireland theme is being used, the Celtic sound-scheme appears in the list.

…but when you switch to another theme, the custom sound-scheme no longer appears.


When I switch to a different theme, the Celtic sound-scheme does not appear in the list anymore.

Because the sound-scheme settings and .WAV files for the Celtic sound-scheme were downloaded to your computer as part of the Ireland .themepack file, Windows “forgets” about them when you are no longer using that .themepack. This will happen with any sound-scheme that was downloaded to your computer as part of a .themepack file.

To re-use a custom sound-scheme with a different theme, follow these steps:

1. Click on the theme that contains the sound-scheme you want to re-use. This applies the theme to your desktop.

2. Click Sounds to open the Sound control panel.

3. Click the Save As button.


4. Give the sound-scheme a name, and click OK.


Now when you switch to a different theme, the sound-scheme you saved will appear in the list.


Now you can use this sound-scheme with a different theme. To do so, just follow these steps:

1. Click on the theme that you want to add the sound-scheme to. This applies the theme to your desktop.

2. Click Sounds to open the Sound control panel.

3. Choose the sound-scheme you just saved, and click Apply.

4. Right-click on the Unsaved Theme icon and choose either Save theme or Save theme for sharing.


What’s the difference between these two options? Well, if you choose Save theme, Windows will only save these new settings for your own Windows profile, on your own PC. More importantly, if you ever delete the theme that the sounds originally came with (in this case, the Ireland theme), the sounds will be deleted too. (The name you gave the sound-scheme will still appear in the list, but if you listen to the sounds, you will hear that they are now actually just the Windows default sounds.)


If you want to share your updated theme, or ensure that the sounds will remain even if you eventually delete the theme they came with, choose Save theme for sharing. This “packages” the .WAV files into a new .themepack file, instead of just “pointing to” their location on your PC.

If you are wondering which of the themes on the gallery include custom sounds, here are the ones we’ve released so far:


Alan Wake


Gears of War


Gears of War 2


Gears of War 3


Eerie Autumn


Halo: Reach


Halo: Reach – Art Inspiration







Of course, you can always modify a theme that contains a custom sound-scheme so that it uses a standard sound-scheme instead – or you can turn the sounds off altogether. For more information on changing your sound settings, see “Changing Windows 7 sounds.”

I hope these tips help you get more enjoyment from the custom sound-schemes we’ve included in these themes. And as always, keep checking back for new Windows 7 themes – I add more almost every week.