Windows Vista transformation guide

Guide Version 1.0
Built for Windows 10, version 21H2. Compliance with newer builds assumed but not guaranteed.
Resources linked in this version involve using Stardock software. Guide starts with easy stuff and progresses in difficulty.
Vistafy Windows
Made by konstidog

Hello there!

Welcome to Konsti's Vista transformation guide. This will run you through the hands-on process of returning Vista era graphics to your Windows 10 install.

Before you begin, make sure you:
  1. Have a bit of time on your hands
  2. Have an affinity for Aero Glass
  3. Are comfortable with software tinkering

Hit 'Next' to begin! We'll start off with the easy stuff.
To go back a step, hit the arrow in the top left.


This guide is only made to work with Windows 10 64-bit! Please check your OS version before going forward.

To do this, check either of these:
Settings ▸ System ▸ About ▸ Windows specifications
Start Menu ▸ type in winver

Make sure you're also an administrator account on your machine. You'll be tinkering with the system after all.

Downloading Resources

To get started, download this bundle of contents, and extract them to somewhere you won't be moving.

  • It's important these resources stay put.
    Windows will be looking for some of them on each start.
    A good place to keep them would be C:\Vista Resources

  • Vista Transformation Bundle
  • Downloading Software

    For the best results, you'll also need a couple pieces of paid software from Stardock.

  • WindowBlinds
  • IconPackager
  • These aren't essential, but they'll make the result a lot more convincing.
    There's a manual option for icon changing, but WindowBlinds is kind of irreplaceable for the proper look of everything.

  • Once you've installed the above, continue on!

    Let's get going! First off: Themes!

    We'll be following along with the archive you just downloaded.
    Open its folder up, and start at step 1.

  • If you've got WindowBlinds, skip the 1.1 folder. If you don't have WindowBlinds, skip the 1.2 folder.
  • For the WindowBlinds version:

    1. Install and activate WindowBlinds
    2. Go to WindowBlinds Settings and tick the following:
      • Disable ribbon in Explorer windows
      • Force non acrylic blur on later Windows 10 versions
    3. Double click the Aero VistaX.wba file to install it
    4. To enable, double-click on the skin in WindowBlinds

    For the MSStyle version:

    1. Copy the contents of the Theme folder
    2. Paste them into C:\Windows\Resources\Themes
    3. Install Ultra UxTheme Patcher
    4. Apply the theme by double-clicking on Vista Aero.theme or Vista Basic.theme


    These are pretty straightforward. Pick and choose one or a few that you like, select them, and from the right-click menu pick Set as desktop background. If you fancy a slidewhow, just select all. :P

    There's extra wallpapers from betas avaiable in the 93. Extra Wallpapers folder, if you like that kind of thing.

  • Don't worry, there's not 100 steps to this thing, I promise.
  • Cursors

    Installing mouse cursours is thankfully mostly automated. To install these:

    1. Choose the cursor size you'll want (normal, large, xl)
    2. Right click on the specific .inf file and pick "Install"
    3. Open up the oldschool Mouse properties from Control Panel ▸ Hardware and Sound ▸ Mouse
    4. Go to the Pointers tab and from the Scheme dropdown, pick Windows Aero
    5. Hit Apply or OK


    I haven't found a way to automate changing sounds, so this'll have to be done by hand :(

    To get going:

    1. Copy the entire Windows Vista folder into C:\Windows\Media
    2. Pick a sound scheme you like (default, or glass/pearl/tinker)
    3. Open up the Sound control panel (right click your taskbar volume icon and pick Sounds
    4. Follow the list below to map each sound to its proper event
    5. Use the Save As... button to save this scheme for easier switching later on
    6. Hit Apply or OK

    Event name Sound file
    Asterisk Windows Error.wav
    Critical Battery Alarm Windows Battery Critical.wav
    Critical Stop Windows Critical Stop.wav
    Default Beep Windows Ding.wav
    Device Connect Windows Hardware Insert.wav
    Device Disonnect Windows Hardware Remove.wav
    Device Failed to Connect Windows Hardware Fail.wav
    Exclamation Windows Exclamation.wav
    Low Battery Alarm Windows Battery Low.wav
    Message Nudge Windows Balloon.wav
    New Mail Notification Windows Notify.wav
    New Text Message Notification Windows Balloon.wav
    Notification Windows Balloon.wav
    Print Complete Windows Print Complete.wav
    Program Error Windows Critical Stop.wav
    Question Windows Exclamation.wav
    System Notification Windows Ding.wav
    Windows User Account Control Windows User Account Control.wav
    Blocked Pop-up Window Windows Pop-up Blocked.wav
    Empty Recycle Bin Windows Recycle.wav
    Notification Bar Windows Pop-up Blocked.wav
    Start Navigation Windows Navigation Start.wav

    User Images

    Windows XP through Windows 7 came with a default set of user pictures you could pick from, as well as your own. While these are a minor touch, they're also an easy one to change around.
    To set a user image:

    1. Open Settings ▸ Accounts ▸ Your info ▸ Browse for one
    2. Locate the 5. User Pictures folder and pick one out
    3. Or just use what you already have!

    There's extra wallpapers from betas avaiable in the 92. Extras - HD User Icon Pack folder, if you like that kind of thing.

  • If you're using a Microsoft account, this will change your icon on all devices.

  • System Icons

    Yet again, we're going to have to use paid software to make our lives a little easier.

    For the IconPackager version:

    1. Install and activate IconPackager
    2. Open IconPackager and go to: Icon Package Options ▸ Add Icon Package ▸ Install from disk
    3. Navigate to 6. Vista Icons Iconpackager Build\Vista Icons for 10.iconpackage
    4. Hit Apply icons to my desktop

    For the manual version:

    1. Open CustomizerGod from 10. Optional Applications\8. CustomizerGod.exe
    2. Open the General Icons section on the left
    3. Manually replace each icon with the appropriate ones in 94., 95. Vista Icons
    4. For the desktop/downloads/games/links folder icons, use the icons you find in 95.1. Custom Vista Icons

    Startup and Logon Sounds

    Windows no longer gives you a user-facing way to set these sound events, so we have to do it kind of weirdly. To get started:

    1. Open the start menu and type in Task Scheduler
    2. On the pane on the right, pick Import Task
    3. Pick each of the .xml files, then hit OK
    4. On the user account information popup, type in your own username and password and hit OK

    File Explorer + Taskbar

    These are some of the apps that requires we keep stuff put in one place. OldNewExplorer does the heavy lifting of making Explorer look like it did in Vista, while ExplorerPatcher deals with essential small tweaks. They kind of complement each other. To get started:

    1. Open OldNewExplorerCfg.exe as administrator (right-click)
    2. Hit the Install button up top
    3. Open the OldNewExplorer Settings.png image and change over the settings to match
    4. Close out of the window. Any new Explorer windows will now follow these settings.
    5. Open ep_setup.exe to install ExplorerPatcher
    6. Once installed, open it via Start ▸ Properties (ExplorerPatcher)
    7. On the left, hit About, then pick the Import settings option
    8. Pick the ExplorerPatcher tweaks.reg file
    9. Click on the * Restart File Explorer option

    OpenShell + Start Menu Skin

    OpenShell is a great little start menu replacement we're going to use, to bring back Vista's lightweight and compact start menu.

    1. (Optional) Set your taskbar to the small size, and your buttons to never combine from Settings ▸ Personalization ▸ Taskbar
    2. Open OpenShell Setup.exe
    3. Uncheck the Classic Explorer and Classic IE items, we don't need them
    4. Install as normal beyond that
    5. Install the invisible1.ttf font file (right-click ▸ install)
    6. Copy the VISTALIKE PowerButton Fix RevD.skin7 file
    7. Paste it into C:\Program Files\Open-Shell\Skins
    8. Open Open-Shell Menu settings (if active, right click on the start button and pick Settings. If not, search Open-Shell in the start menu
    9. Click on the Backup button in the bottom right, and pick Load from XML file
    10. Pick the 9. Open-Shell + Start Menu Skins\Menu Settings.xml file
    11. Under the Replace Start button section, click Pick image...
    12. If you're using a small taskbar, pick the Accurate Start Orb.png file
    13. For a normal size taskbar, pick the Orb With Border.png file
    14. (Optional) Replace the StartMenuHelperL10N.ini file in C:\Program Files\Open-Shell\Skins with the one in the resources folder, if you plan on cleaning up your context menus. This changes its right-click option from "Pin to Start menu (Open-Shell)" to just "Pin to Start menu"

    Logon Image

    1. Open Settings ▸ Personalization ▸ Lock screen
    2. Choose Background ▸ Picture
    3. Hit the Browse button and navigate to 10. Logon Backgrounds
    4. Pick the one with the closest resolution to yours

  • If you don't know your resolution, you can see it under Settings ▸ System ▸ Display ▸ Display Resolution
  • System Tweaks

    From here on out, we're staying in the 11. Optional Applications folder. While these are optional, I recommend going through with what you can to really get the look down.

    1. Install 1. WinAero Tweaker as normal
    2. Open WinAero Tweaker. Go to File ▸ Import/Export Tweaks
    3. From the popup, pick the Import option
    4. Navigate to the 11. Optional Applications\Winaero Tweaks.ini file
    5. Hit Finish

  • You might see a bit of flashing on the list of tweaks from the .ini file. Don't worry about that, though. WinAero and WindowBlinds just don't seem to get along great.

  • Windows Sidebar

  • We'll be taking ownership of files here. If you want the complete look and you've skipped the previous step, either install WinAero tweaker and only enable the Take Ownership option, or find a registry tweak for it online.

    1. Install 2. 8GadgetPack - Sidebar.msi as normal
    2. Once installed, don't start the sidebar application
    3. Navigate to C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar and right-click ▸ Take Ownership of the entire folder
    4. Go to 11. Optional Applications\1.1. Vista Sidebar Files\Windows Sidebar and copy+replace everything within the folder you just took ownership of
    5. Now feel free to start up the sidebar app

    Windows Photo Viewer

    The old Windows Photo Viewer is much more lightweight and fast to open than the current Photos app, plus it fits the look we're going for.

  • We may be taking ownership of files here. If you want the complete look and you've skipped the previous step, either install WinAero tweaker and only enable the Take Ownership option, or find a registry tweak for it online.

    1. Double-click and apply the 1. Restore Windows Photo Viewer.reg tweak
    2. Go to Settings ▸ Apps ▸ Default apps ▸ Photo viewer and pick Winodws Photo Viewer
    3. (Optional from here on out)
    4. Go to C:\Program Files\Windows Photo Viewer and take ownership of the folder
    5. Replace its contents with the ones in 2. Windows Photo Viewer


    1. Right click on each .scr file and pick Install
    2. Go to the Screen Saver control panel (Settings ▸ Personalization ▸ Lock screen ▸ Screen saver settings) and pick the one you like

    Microsoft Paint

    This part involves replacing the mspaint files in system32. I wouldn't go for it unless you're absolutely adamant about a Vista 1:1.

  • We well be taking ownership of files here. If you want the complete look and you've skipped the previous step, either install WinAero tweaker and only enable the Take Ownership option, or find a registry tweak for it online.

    1. Do this for these files one by one
    2. Go to C:\Windows\System32
    3. Rename mspaint.exe to something similar, like old_mspaint.exe
    4. Quickly paste in the mspaint.exe file from the 4. MSPaint Vista Version folder
    5. Do the same thing again for the mspaint.exe.mui file located in C:\Windows\System32\en-US

    Extra Apps

    These are all bundled as extra stuff you can install and use instead of modern counterparts. All of these are installed like any other app you're used to.

    • Classic Calc
    • Windows Vista & 7 Games for 10
    • Classic Sticky Notes

    Notification Tray Icons

    Finally, we'll change our Network and Volume icons to match. I've only found a network indicator icon suitable for desktops, so if you're on a laptop, I suggest skipping that.

    For the volume icon:

    1. Go to Settings ▸ Personalization ▸ Taskbar ▸ Turn system icons on or off
    2. Disable the Volume icon
    3. Alternatively, tuck it away under the overflow arrow
    4. Install 3RVX
    5. Copy the Vista Aero folder into C:\Program Files(x86)\3RVX\Skins
    6. Launch 3RVX's settings from the tray, or the start menu
    7. Under the General tab, enable Run on Windows startup, and pick the skin Vista Aero
    8. Under the Display tab, set the Position attributes to X:0, Y:-50

    For the network icon:

    1. Run NetworkIndicator.exe
    2. Right-click on the tray icon
    3. Enable Load at Windows Startup
    4. Under the All Interfaces menu, pick the Vista style, and hit OK