Hey! I was working on a small FAQ for Shell Packs , and it turned out to be useful to a few poeple, so I'm just sharing it around the net and hope it helps! (I'll try to keep it updated). This FAQ is hosted at 4 sites, and if you want a copy, just let me know. Thanks! [FAQ]Shell Pack Last Updated: June 25 2004, 01:30(EST) Q. What is a Shell Pack? A. In simple words, it involves changing a lot of icons on your system by replacing your current files (including system files) with files from the shell pack. The files being replaced will change for ALL users on the system. Q. Why sometimes Shell Packs are called "Lite" A. Most of the time when a shell pack is called lite, it means that it usually involves a few files that simply replace the main icons. Q. Then, what is considered a full shell pack? A. In addition to the main icons it would also contain the following: AVIs: animations that show up when moving, deleting, copying, etc. BMPs: usually those cover the toolbar icons, the icons in those wizards (printer, hardware, etc.), the "about" window, the system property window, etc. System Tray Icons [usually rare] Visual Styles: you need to have a patched uxtheme.dll or sometimes those shell packs include it Q. Is the shell Pack safe to install? A. There is always a risk with applying a shell pack. The risk is due to the inconsistencies between the file versions from the shell pack and the file version from your system. Most problems arise when the file version in the shell pack is older from the one on your system. In addition, there is the obvious risk of downloading files from the Internet to replace your system files. Q. What files are being replaced? A. It depends on the author of the shell pack, some packs could replace only one file (usually shell32.dll), other packs could replace well over 60 files. Q. How do I know which files are being replaced? A. Most packs don't have an installer script, so you can actually view the files that need to be replaced (Read below on how to replace system files). The shell packs that have an installer script, well you can open the installer script using notepad and take a look at which files it is changing. The installer script usually has a .bat extension unless they are using a program to replace the files (such as replacer), then the list of files replaced would be located in a text file (.txt extension) Q. I downloaded a shell pack, now how do I replace the system files? A. WARNING: Replacing your system files can mess up your system. So proceed at your OWN risk. Before anything create a folder "BackupFiles" and place all the files that you plan on replacing. So hopefully you can revert back to them in case of a problem! 01. Grab Replacer Program 02. Extract the files. 03. Copy the files (data & replacer) 04. Locate the folder with the "hacked" system files 05. Paste the data & replacer files in the aforementioned folder 06. Create a txt file with the files that you want to replace (something like the following): 07. What you did earlier was create a list of files to tell Replacer to change.08. Drag the txt file and drop it over the replacer file. 09. It will ask you if you wish to replace the files you listed. Say yes and wait! 10. Now you will have patched the files 11. The most important step now is to rebuild your icons (reboot if needed). 12. This can be done by using Microsoft's PowerToy TweakUI Download Here 13. Once you download/install it, click repair -> repair icons 14. The beauty of the replacer program is that it backups the files to file.backup 15. Very rare, but some files just won't work, so just boot into safe mode and use follow the steps again 16. There are several other ways to replace your system files. You can check Iceman's Tutorials here Q. You mentioned file version inconsistencies, what is that? A. The easiest way to explain this, open up the folder with the files. Select View -> Details. Again Select View-> Choose Details -> Check File Version. You should be able to see the file versions. I recommend creating a spreadsheet to compare the file versions of the files being replaced with the files on your system. Something similar to this spreadsheet. Q. Some packs have tons of files, do you really expect me to cross verify them? A. I've decided that for almost all of the shell packs that will be released at <<spam>>.net, I will try to make a spreadsheet with their file versions asap. In other words, you will have no excuse not to check the file versions of your system files against the shell pack files! Thanks to BudMan, he introduced me to a great software that will print to txt the contents of a folder (including name and file version) check it out here. Thus, download that program, print the name and file version of your system files. Sort them, and just plug them into the spreadsheet file. If you have a newer file than the system pack, I recommend that you don't replace that file Q. How do I uninstall a shell pack? A. Depends on the shell pack. Some come with an uninstall script. So just use that. If it fails, you can use the replacer program and just revert back to your files. You can also just use the system file checker tool. Insert the Windows CD, go to start -> run -> Type cmd -> sfc /scannow Q. Where can I find some shell packs & which ones do you recommend? A. I like the G.A.N.T 2 shell pack by Ð€VÌ£ Ïñ Ðì§gûï§€ & Crystal Pack by dlb. You can find other packs at: (please take note that some of those packs were created a while ago so their file versions WILL differ from yours!) 01. Preducer's Collection of Shell Packs (includes almost all of the shell packs out there) recommended 02. dlb's Crystal Shell Pack 03. Crystal Shell Pack by MavisXP & Fizical 04. flyakite's OSX Shell Pack 05. iceman's OSX Shell Pack 06. Rivak's Collection of Shell Packs (BeOS, Fedora, Lush & Bluecurve) 07. Kasteo's Noia Shell Pack 08. MPAMPOULAS Collection of Shell Packs (Gartoon & Smooth Metal) 09. Ð€VÌ£ Ïñ Ðì§gûï§€'s G.A.N.T 2 shell pack 10. afix's G.A.N.T Shell Pack 11. Stinger12348's Gorilla shell pack 12. Ð€VÌ£ Ïñ Ðì§gûï§€'s iCandy Junior shell pack 13. CustomXP's Shell collection (GANT, SnowE 2, SnowE, Crystal, Umicons, Gorilla/Orilla, Umicons/Orilla, etc)(note: French ONLY) 14. Hardware Geek's Shell Collection (includes:Crystal , Gant, IYAZOO, Mxx, Snow E, Tux n'tush, Umicons, XP iCandy,etc.) ... Q. Are there other methods to change your system files? A. Yes. You can always buy Icon Packager( from stardock) and use their icons packages. You can also download the Free GUI Replacer and apply its icon packages. Give both of them a try, you might like them. Q. What is GUI Replacer? A. Similarly, as with shell packs, the program replaces the system files. However, it is language and file version independent (in other words, it doesn't matter if you are using English SP1 or French w/o SP1,etc.). The icon packages for GUI Replacer are called Modules. You can pretty much say that the modules are the same thing with the shell packs, but they don't have the aforementioned inconsistencies. Q. Where can I find modules? A. The best resource is: Fizical's Website. Q. What about Icon Packager? A. Probably the safest option you have. It also enjoys the largest pool of icon packages. In addition, there is no need to backup, because it has an option to load the default icons. It also acts as a icon librarian (really nice feature). However, at this current time, it doesn't change system tray icons, toolbar icons, animations. On the other hand, using stardock's other software (WindowBlinds, ObjectBar, etc.), you can then change the visual style, AVIs, BMPs, etc. and obtain a much more "complete" visual change. (The entire object desktop software costs ~$50) Q. Where can I find icon packages for Stardock's Icon Packager? A. Try http://www.wincustomize.com/ or http://www.guiolympics.com Q. Which method do you like? A. It doesn't matter. I find an icon package that I like and then just install it (be it using IP, GUIR, shell packs, etc) . I also try to find icon packages that match certain visual styles, in order to obtain a more "complete" visual change. Q. How can I view the icons inside those .dll files? A. Use an icon viewer program. I like IconShop (freeware) Q. What if I wanted to create a shell pack? How do I hack the system files? (brief overview) A. Well, first of all: 01. You would need to use a program that can hack the resources (icons, videos, sounds, etc.). 02. You can use Restorator (shareware) or Resource Hacker (freeware). 03. You would need to find the icons (or create them yourself) that you wish to replace with the default ones. 04. Copy all the system files that you wish to edit to a new folder. Here is a good list of possible files to hack 05. Then, use the program you downloaded (restorator or resource hacker) and start overwriting the files. Q. So I downloaded Resource Hacker, can you be a little more specific on how to use it?by hush66 A. The following procedure will make use of shell32.dll: Q. How can I update a shell pack? (almost all the files are different from mine) A. Well, you will have to extract all the resources from the old one and overwrite the extracted resources to the new system files. This will be an almost similar process to the aforementioned question (see question above). Credits Major thanks to hush66 & Fizical!, and the rest of the crowd that helped make this a better FAQ (including BudMan, psgamer0921, ...) Fizical (the creator of many GUIR modules) suggested that someone should make a Shell Pack FAQ, so I wrote it up real quick. If you have any feedback, I would appreciate it. Thanks!