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WindowBlinds 7 showing Visual Styles tab with Sabertooth skin in preview area.

What is a Visual Style?

In WindowBlinds, the computer graphics (i.e. colour (color), style) is referred to as any of the following: Visual Style, Skin, or Personality.  These terms all refer to the same thing and are used interchangeably in WindowBlinds and this documentation.  Though the term "Skin" is the most common.  The term Texture is also used to refer to the colouring & pattern of the skin graphics.

Visual Styles may include any of the following additional elements: Styles (substyles), Textures, Wallpapers, and Fonts.

Terminology Used in WindowBlinds

Your Windows desktop is made up of a number of separate items that WindowBlinds and this documentation will refer to.  To help you understand the terms used, here are some of the most common ones.

Default - (as used in this documentation) means that when an option (i.e. checkbox, menu choice) is set to say, "Play sounds defined by the skin (if any)".  And it has a checked box, that means that this option was set that way when WindowBlinds was installed (or how Windows is setup when new).  This is handy, in case you want to return a setting to the default.

A Dialog Box - asks you do something, such as this "Delete tag" box.  It's a simple Yes or No and includes: window frame, titlebar, and buttons that can be skinned:

Typical dialog box with default Windows 7 skin.

The Notification Area (formerly called System Tray) - is (by default) in the lower, right-hand corner of your screen with the clock.

Notification Area in lower, right corner with clock.

Start Menu - is the menu that appears in the lower, right corner after clicking the Windows orb button.

Start Menu with default Windows 7 visual style.

The Taskbar - (by default) is located on the bottom on your desktop and may include minimized applications / windows.  The Start button (to open the Start menu) is located on the far left.

Taskbar with Start Menu button - Win 7 default skin.

The Titlebar - is the top most frame of a window, and typically includes: an icon (far left) that if you click will open the system menu, title of the application or window (i.e. Calculator), and buttons (minimize, maximize, close).

A typical Titlebar - showing Calculator.

The User Interface (UI) - is what you see on the screen when an application runs, such as: window, frame, title bar, buttons, various types of menus, etc..

The Wallpaper - is the graphic image (or color) of the background on your desktop (monitor). Windows has a default wallpaper when it is first installed and includes other wallpapers you can change it to. You may also use a photo as wallpaper.

The Window Frame - is around each window, each skin can change the colour and style of this frame.

Window Frame of Notepad is seen as the border or perimeter of the window.

Texture - is a new feature that allows you to add a textured graphic to various elements of the desktop.

Notepad with Sabertooth visual style applied to the window frame, title bar, buttons, etc..

Differences Between Windows 7, Vista and XP

There are some options in WindowBlinds that are only available (visible) in Windows 7, Vista and XP. This manual will notify you if a feature is for only one operating system, otherwise assume it is available for all versions of Windows (i.e. 7/Vista/XP).

Installation

WindowBlinds can be installed through stand-alone installer for the 30-day Trial version.

Otherwise, locate the icon on the Start Menu by doing the following:


  1. Click on "Start" icon.
  2. Click on "All Programs".
  3. Click on the "Stardock" folder.
  4. Click on the "Object Desktop" folder to open it.
  5. Finally, click on the "WindowBlinds" icon to run it.


WindowBlinds located on the Start Menu.

WindowBlinds 7 Configuration initially displays a menu across the top, a large preview area in the center, then below are filter options, thumbnails of each installed Visual Style and a tabbed menu at the bottom with the "Visual Styles" tab selected by default. The other tabs relate to the selected visual style, with grayed out tabs not available for that style. Not all features are available for all skins, as a result, some tabs are grayed out (unavailable) and some tabs will not support all features as shown in this manual.

The top menu consists of the following items:

  • Apply changes - after a visual style has been selected or changes made, this will apply the changes to your desktop.
  • Skin Options - offers a sub-menu of options to Install new (visual style), Download more skins, Edit in SkinStudio (if installed), Change Colour (shortcut to "Colours" sub-tab (bottom menu), Delete (visual style), Rebuild List, and Apply changes.
  • Settings - allows you to make changes that affect various aspects of WindowBlinds.
  • About WindowBlinds - displays important information about WindowBlinds, helpful if you ever need to contact Stardock Support.
  • Get more Skins! - offers the option to download more skins (visual styles) from WinCustomize.com.
  • Help (Help) - opens the default web browser and displays this manual on the Stardock web site.

In the center of the WindowBlinds application window is the preview area which will display the selected visual style and any changes you select. The type (i.e. UIS0 Skin, UIS1 Skin, UIS2 Skin) of visual style will be displayed under the preview as a caption.

Preview area displaying Sabertooth visual style.

When the "Visual Styles" tab (bottom) is selected, under the preview area are options to "Filter by". This allows you to view just the thumbnails for the visual styles meeting either the rating and/or the text you type into the Search field. As you download and accumulate more skins, these options will quickly aid you in searching for just the right one.


Filter by - rating of skin.

Search by title, and author.

Under the filter options, are thumbnails of available visual styles displaying a small sample of the skin. The same visual styles are included on Windows 7/Vista/XP, except XP lacks the new UIS0 format skins.

Thumbnails located under preview area.

Finally, on the bottom of the WindowBlinds window is a tabbed menu of options that changes depending on the type of visual style selected. Black text on white means the option is available, while gray text on white means the option is not available. Clicking on each tab changes the thumbnails area to settings related to that tab. For instance, clicking on the "Aero Colours" visual style thumbnail, then clicking on the "Colours" tab, will display a list of colours you can change that skin to. Clicking on a solid color box will update the preview area so you can see how it will look, before applying to your desktop.

Bottom tabbed menu - each tab allows you to change or add features to a skin.

When you make a change to a setting on a tab, you will notice a checkmark next to the title of the tab. So in the case of the "Colours" tab, if you selected red, the checkmark will be in a red circle Checkmark = change to show that you made a change to the colour of the skin. This is a quick way to find what areas of the visual style you changed.

In the lower right corner of WindowBlinds, to the right of the last menu tab, you may see an animated busy Busy icon anytime WindowBlinds is working. You may see it as you change between visual styles, make changes, etc..

The WindowBlinds application window can be downsized vertically to reduce the visible footprint on your desktop to hide the preview area.

WindowBlinds 7 window reduced in size to hide preview area.

All of these menu options & tabs will be covered in greater detail in the following pages.