Steve Grenier's Guide For Making Windows Look Like A Mac
Published on February 28, 2005 By Steve Grenier In OS Customization

How To Make Windows Look Like A Mac

Steve Grenier's Guide For Making Windows Look Like A Mac


  • Applying The WB Theme
  • Changing Schemes
    • Aqua
    • Platinum
    • Brushed
  • Aqua vs. Graphite
  • Customization
    • Titlebar Buttons
    • Start Menu
  • Troubleshooting
  • Extra Programs
    • LogonStudio
    • Iconpackager
    • ObjectDock
    • Objectbar
    • AveDesk
    • Konfabulator
    • WindowFX
    • CursorXP
    • Trillian
  • My Mac OS X Tiger Desktop

The following is for Windowblinds themes made by me (Steve Grenier), skins made by other authors may differ.

Applying The WB Theme

This is a very easy process, but I felt the need to add it so people know don't email me saying it doesn't work.

First off, you need to have Windowblinds installed, the latest version is always best to have. Now before you install the theme make sure you don't have any other version of the theme installed. This is mainly directed at the Beta Testers who had tested the theme during it's creation. Now, you can apply the theme you download from the bottom of this article. Simply double click or open the .wba file you download and Windowblinds should auto detect the file and install it for you. If not, open your Windowblinds Configuration. Select Install from disk and browse for the .wba you downloaded and open it.

Changing Schemes


There are a couple ways for you to change the schemes in Tiger.

The first way is to open your Windowblinds Configuration, (double clicking the Windowblinds icon located in the system tray) select Mac OS X Tiger once selected on the right of that a combo box should appear. Click the arrow to open the list and there are 2 sub-schemes for the Aqua scheme. There is the standard Aqua, which is the default scheme, and there is Graphite. Both classified as the Aqua scheme. Select the style you want from the menu, Windowblinds will load a preview of the scheme, if it's the one you would like click Apply this skin now if your not happy with it, click on the arrow again and choose a different sub-scheme from the list. The Aqua scheme is the default theme for Mac OS X Tiger which will be coming this Spring.

The second way is to open Control Panel, in category view, select Appearance and Themes. Then under the Pick a task header select Changes the computer's theme. A new window will open (Display Properties) select the Appearance tab. Then select the scheme from the second combo box. The first should have Mac OS X Tiger selected, if not, select it, then proceed to change the scheme.


This is done very much the same way as when changing the Aqua scheme. Instead of selecting one of the Aqua schemes (Aqua & Graphite) look for the schemes labeled Platinum. There are again 2 sub-schemes, Aqua and Graphite. Select the style you want, view the preview and apply. The Platinum scheme is new to the Mac OS X interface. It's used mainly in the Mail program and the System Preferences window.


My personal favorite of all 3 schemes. The Brushed scheme is applied the same way you applied the other 2 schemes. Select the sub-scheme you want from the menu and apply. The Brushed scheme is well known throughout the Mac community and even the Windows community with iTunes. On Mac the Brushed scheme is used in a variety of places and a variety of shades. iTunes and iChat both have a lighter shade Brushed scheme then the Finder does. This scheme is based off the Finder Brushed shade.

Aqua vs. Graphite

As you may (hopefully) had noticed when changing schemes there are 2 different sub-schemes for each scheme. The differences between the 2 are as follows. Aqua has colour and is the most popular of the 2 schemes. Graphite is a desaturated version of the Aqua with a slight hint of blue and some minor differences. Generally speaking the difference between the 2 is that Aqua has colour and Graphite does not.


Titlebar Buttons

In the past I had an issue with some users who did not want the full Mac experience and had grown to used to having their buttons on the right hand side. So instead of waiting for people to complain I added it by default in this version. It's very easy to switch between the 2 different styles. The same way that you change the schemes, instead when you click the arrow to view the list select the ones labeled (Right) the ones that are not labeled (Right) are the default which has the buttons located on the left hand side.

Start Menu

There are 2 different styles of Start Menu's included in Mac OS X Tiger. The first is the standard Start Menu with all the regular features, Programs list, Places list, Shutdown/Logoff Buttons, Username, ect. Then there is the Apple Menu which is made to resemble the Apple Menu found in Mac OS X. Although it doesn't have many of the same features it at least looks like it. There is a minor issue with the Apple Menu, you need to be using Small Icons in the Start Menu for it to look proper. To set your start menu to use small icons right click an empty space on your taskbar and select properties. Click the Start Menu tab located in the top left of the new window that just opened. Then proceed and click the Customize button located in the bottom right. A new window will open, in this new window in the top center you will see the option to select Large icons or Small icons, select Small icons, click Ok, or Apply then Ok. Now in order for this Apple Menu to actually be useful you may need to add a few shortcuts to the list, by default Windows has Internet Explorer and Outlook Express located at the top of the Apple Menu, they will be in Bold. Before you start adding shortcuts to the list you need to find the Applications you want to add. I suggest, My Computer, My Documents, Control Panel, and Run. Whichever you choose simply right click the programs and select Create Shortcut you may want to rename once it's created to remove the Shortcut to label. Once you have the shortcuts all ready it's easy to add them. Click and hold the shortcut you would like to add, then press the Windows key on your keyboard (has a Windows flag on it). Then drag and drop below a shortcut in the Bold list. By default you would be dropping your new shortcut below the Outlook Express shortcut. Do this as many times and you want, to remove a shortcut simply right click Remove from this list. Once you add all your shortcuts it will be much more useful and a nice change from the standard Start Menu.


There are a few common problems that I can try and clear up here, although there are countless number of errors you could run into depending on what programs and configuration you have.


I included the fonts that this theme uses in the theme directory (folder) it should auto install when you apply the theme if you do not have the fonts. Although it will not replace them if you already have them installed. Now as there are a number of versions of the Lucida Grande font the theme may look "screwed" up at some parts. For example those using FlyakitesOSX there is a known problem with the his version of Lucida Grande. Now as the majority of the theme looks fine with his version of the font the tabs however do not, they have a very large gap to the right. If you have this problem remove your version of Lucida Grande from your fonts folder (you may have to go into safe mode depending if it's in use or not) and the install the version that came with this theme.

Another common problem is when the fonts don't look the same as in my screenshots. The usual case there is that Cleartype font smoothing is not turned on. This is easy to change, open Control Panel, in category view, select Appearance and Themes. Then under the Pick a task header select Changes the computer's theme. A new window will open (Display Properties) select the Appearance tab. Once that loads click the Effects button. You will see Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts: click the arrow and select Cleartype. Click Ok, then Ok or Apply and Ok in the next window. Your fonts should now look like the ones in my screenshots.


If you are having problems with the titlebar buttons having black edges, check and make sure you have the latest version of Windowblinds installed. The odds are that you have a version older then 4.2, if you do, upgrade to the latest, 4.5 or higher.

Another problem some users are experiencing is that the dialog background do not have the lines on them and that they are a solid colour. That can be changed in your Windowblinds Advanced Configuration window. On the left under Settings click Basic Settings. Under the heading, Skin window backgrounds check off Dialog backgrounds (see Backgrounds to override). Save and apply and you will now have the lined backgrounds.

If the theme isn't loading properly or some features are missing, delete the theme and make sure the folder is removed from the Windowblinds directory and then re-download and install the theme a second time.

Some programs might not look properly with this theme applied, that is mainly due to the programs design. Windowblinds does it's best to properly skin as many components as possible but sometimes it just doesn't look right, that's not a problem that you can fix.

Extra Programs


There's no reason why your desktop theme can have all the fun. With a LogonStudio theme you can change your login screen so it looks like the login screen of Mac OS X Tiger. This is a great tool to have when you are looking for the complete Mac experience on Windows, I highly suggest it. Download LogonStudio here. To install a logon just double click the .logonxp file you download and it should auto install and launch LogonStudio.


If you want to add to the Mac experience I made an Iconpackage last year that is great for replacing the majority of the system files to match Mac OS X, you can download it here. It's a simple thing but it makes it feel more complete, another program I highly suggest. It's easy to install iconpackages. If they are .ip you can just double click them and it will install and launch Iconpackager. If they are in a .zip file, you need to open the archive and extra the folder inside into your Themes directory which is located within the Iconpackager folder inside your Stardock directory. You can download Iconpackager here.


Objectdock is a fantastic application for creating a replica Dock. You can download Mac OS X Panther Icons here. Extract them to your Objectdock folder which is usually located within your Stardock folder, which is in Program Files. The free version of ObjectDock is all you need to re-create the Mac OS X Dock. Although the Plus version includes a lot of extra and cool features. This is a must have when trying to make Windows look and perform like a Mac. Download ObjectDock here.


Objectbar is the a fantastic program and has a lot of capabilities, my personal favorite is being about to create a replica Finder bar. The Finder bar is the taskbar-like bar located at the top on Mac OS X, it also replaces the Menu bar in Windows. I will be creating a new Objectbar skin to replica Mac OS X Tiger, but as of right now my latest was Mac OS X Panther which myself and Ian Black created. Download Mac OS X Panther for Objectbar here. and download Objectbar here.


AveDesk is a donate-ware so help show your support to AndreasV and donating here. AveDesk will enhance your desktop experience by making your desktop visually more pleasing and to give the possibility to add interactive icons and tools, called desklets. In order to download AveDesk you need to be a member of the website/forum Aqua-Soft to get the news on the latest versions. If you are already a member visit here to get all the latest news on AveDesk.


In my opinion it is the best program for Widget's out there. It is incredibly easy to use, fantastic looking widgets, one of the best widget libraries on the internet. Fast, and makes your desktop look to good for words. Konfabulator is share-ware this their site here and try it out, I'm sure you won't be disappointed.


WindowFX is the program which is best known for it's ability to add Shadows around your Windows. It also can do a lot more including animations, transitions, and more. Even if your just using it for Shadows I suggest you give it a try, it's another one of those must haves when trying to make Windows look like Mac OS X. Download WindowFX here.\


I personally love this application. It's fantastic because it can do so much more then the average Windows XP cursor. Here you can download a Mac OS X CursorXP theme which will give you the cursors that Mac's have. If you don't have CursorXP there is also a standard Windows XP version of the cursors available here. I take no credit for making the cursors. I just use them. Download CursorXP here.


Trillian itself is a very useful program as it combines all the major chat programs into one easy to use program. The main reason I use Trillian is so that I can use the iChat skin made by Daniel Lapointe (Danimator). It's the closest thing to the real iChat you can get on Windows. Download his iChat skins here. Also head over here to download Trillian.

My Mac OS X Tiger Desktop

A lot of people have been asking what programs am I running and how did I get my desktop to look the way it does in my screenshot here. So here I am going to clear it all up so everyone knows. I will post download links to all the items mentioned at the bottom of this section. To begin, the theme I am running is Mac OS X Tiger made by myself. It's for Windowblinds. I have the Brushed Aqua scheme currently running. Next is the Album Cover and Info. That is a skin created for AveTunes which is a Desklet for AveDesk. You need to be using iTunes as that is where it gets it's now playing information from. The skin was made by NKJ and you can download it at his site in the stuff section. Then we have my icons and their layout displaying the hard drive information. That is AveDesk, just using simple Desklets to link to my hard drives. At the bottom I have ObjectDock. I'm using some custom icons and the rest are from the Mac OS X PNG icon set that I posted a link to above in the ObjectDock section of this guide. The clock and the weather in the bottom corners is Konfabulator. The weather widget comes default with Konfabulator and the clock is called World clock, made by Ricky Romero and Harry Whitfield. That iChat like program is Trillian using the iChat AV skin is created by Daniel Lapointe and I modded it so it looked better for my personal use. Another thing people have been asking me was how did I remove the throbber from my explorer window giving it that clean look. The answer is I install Flyakite OSX. It is a installer that replaces parts of your system files that will make it look more like OS X. It is a fantastic package and I highly recommend you give it a try. You can uninstall it if it doesn't appeal to you or if you want to change from the OS X look. The shadow's I'm using are the OSX Perfect shadow theme created by Magnus Wild for WindowFX. Make sure you check off "for shaped windows" within the WindowFX Shadow properties. The Apple Menu shown in the screenshot has shortcuts not buttons. A lot of asked about the Logoff/Restart/Shutdown shortcuts so I included them below, extract the folder anywhere and drag the shortcuts into your start menu. I believe that is everything. If I have missed anything I will edit this and include them.

Files/Programs Download Links:

Mac OS X Tiger WB Theme - Download here.

Album Cover AveTunes Skin - Download in the "Stuff" section, here.

AveDesk - Download in this Aqua-Soft thread.

iTunes - Download here.

ObjectDock - Download here.

Mac OS X Panther (PNG) Icons - Download here.

Konfabulator - Download here.

World Clock Widget - Download here.

Trillian - Download here.

iChat Trillian Skin - Download here.

Flyakite OSX - Download here.

WindowFX - Download here.

OSX Perfect Shadow For WindowFX - Download here.

Logoff/Restart/Shutdown Start Menu Shortcuts - Download here.

And that is the guide, I hope you found it helped you when using this theme. For more customization visit Aqua-Soft and browse through there forums.

Steve Grenier

Comments (Page 3)
on Mar 07, 2005

What's the point? If you want your PC to be a Mac so badly, then just get a Mac.

Probably the most common comment voiced by a non-skinner ....after the one 'what's a skin?'...

on Mar 07, 2005
Yea, there are those that dislike my work, I think theres something wrong with them But ya, I mainly do this as a hobbie, specificly themes, but I use the skills I learn from making themes in my career as a make a lot of graphics. Not sure exactly what am I going to do yet, but I'm sure graphics will be there somewhere

As far as artwork goes I'm glad some of you notice, I try to keep my latest work as clean and flexible as possible. There are a lot of flashy in-your face themes out there and while some of them are nice the majority aren't. I try to keep it simple but professional
on Mar 07, 2005
"Less is More" applies far more often than most people realize.

on Mar 07, 2005
What's the point? If you want your PC to be a Mac so badly, then just get a Mac.

Probably the most common comment voiced by a non-skinner ....after the one 'what's a skin?'...

I skin to a certain extent, I just haven't explored all the programs or even most. But I don't see the point into making windows into a mac. Personaly, I don't like the MAC OS on it's layout. I would still get a MAC for certain tasks since the processor and the OS is made for certain things that the PC wasn't. I would still keep the PC and MAC seperate. That includes function. I won't play games on a MAC. Now throw Linux in the mix, I would keep that seperate from the other two. I won't use Windows or MAC as a Web Server or any other type of Server. This is my outlook, that includes the look
on Mar 07, 2005
I will have to add this to the above mentioned statements:

WHY would one consider even skinning windows to look like a mac?

(Probably already been answered!)

I for one, find that skinning your PC to look like a mac to be an general insult.
on Mar 07, 2005

But I don't see the point into making windows into a mac.

Come on, people.....for those of you who still cannot see the reason.....

It's because you CAN.

The idea of Skinning is to change your default something else.

The Mac GUI happens to be one of those 'something elses', that's all....

on Mar 07, 2005
The Mac design is something you either love or hate, some users like Windows but love the look of Mac OS X. This way they do not lose their Windows system but have a system that looks like Mac OS X. Like Jafo said, because you can. There is obviously at least 20,000 people who like it, this is for people like that
on Mar 08, 2005
Ive got one question: how to get the taskbar changed to the new mac taskbar????
on Mar 08, 2005
I love the skin. Installed it over the weekend and have been really digging it. I use both a PC and a Mac so I'm equally comfortable with both. I think OSX beats WinXP hands-down for UI, so this is a great suite.

Oh, and after a while, I found myself trying to hit command-Q to close applications on my PC instead of Alt-F4. That's how convincing it is!

Why do I want an OSX skin on my Win box? Because I love the UI for OSX, but want the functionality I'm used to in a PC. It's like having a Mac that can run EVERYTHING. Even though it's not really a Mac, it creates enough of the illusion to fulfill a long-time computing dream of mine

My only suggestion would be to make the buttons on the taskbar for each application more defined. As it stands, there's no clear line between them. Maybe making them bubbled or something like chat window buttons are in MIRC for example. Just something to clear it up visually.

on Mar 08, 2005
Hey steve, my customizing is going very well but somethings going wrong. What I try to do is basically mimic what you have done first, then once I see how its done I can go about creating my own with all the slight variations I want in my versions. The problem is with your ObjectBar theme. It works fine on my laptop but on my tower I get this little glitch in the tasks section. When i click it the menu does drop down and the programs are there; However, there are no icons. It looks empty but when you scroll over a blue box apperas along with the program name, but I cant see everything thats running. Whats going on? *i posted her because I know you are monitoring your new article

on Mar 08, 2005
The Objectbar theme is very old and has many bugs. There will be a new Objectbar skin coming out, but no estimated time of arrival on that.

Glad you he the skin and I'm glad it helps make you comfortable with your Mac and your Windows system. A lot of the people that have contacted me about this theme use a Mac and a Windows PC and they love it that they look similar and perform very similar. So I'm glad you like it
on Mar 09, 2005
heh, steves been holding out on us, check out, hes got a few posts up there but the big thing is finding apps that arnt on xp, you can get the finder and some other fun stuff too
on Mar 09, 2005
How about the fact that Mac has a nice looking interface. Why does it have to be "I want my pc to look like a Mac"? Why can't it be, this theme is really nice? I want it.
on Mar 10, 2005
hey steve, i found this lil app it looks like maybe you made oO? *raises one eyebrow* its called ATM, it was created by xero on osx-e and i know i saw some of your ob and windowsfx themes there so i thought it might be you, if it is i cant get it working... i get "the application failed to inialize properly (oxc00000135). Click on OK to terminate the applictation." is there someway i can pm you to see about this?
on Mar 12, 2005
Yes I did create that, you need .NET Framework.