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Creating WinZip Themes

What is a WinZip theme?

A WinZip theme (.wztheme) is essentially a set of bitmaps designed to replace the default icons in the WinZip ribbon interface and change the ribbon's color scheme. A theme can also replace the WinZip watermark in the main window.

To create your own theme, simply perform the following steps:

  1. Determine the bitmap requirements for the watermark and icons that you wish to replace.
  2. Create the replacement bitmaps.
  3. Use WinZip's ThemeBuilder tool to choose a new ribbon color scheme and to process your replacement bitmaps, producing your final theme!

About WinZip icons

The WinZip ribbon uses both large icons and small icons:

Ribbon bitmap sizes

WinZip typically requires six bitmaps for large icons and four bitmaps for small icons; however, there are exceptions. Before you start, you will need to determine the specific requirements for each icon (see below).
WinZip's interface also comes equipped with a customizable Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) that only uses small icons. As such, any large icon in the WinZip ribbon should also have a corresponding small image available, in case the user wants to add that icon to the QAT. In other words, controls with large icons need both large and small bitmaps, while controls with small icons only need small bitmaps.

About the WinZip watermark

WinZip's default watermark requires a slightly different format than the images on the ribbon. To replace it, simply create a single 256-color 150x130 pixel RGB bitmap file named "WaterMk.bmp". Keep in mind that any element in your image that is assigned RGB (255,255,255) (white) will be treated as transparent.

About ribbon color schemes

Although you can assign different colors to the WinZip ribbon's background, text, and highlight elements, Microsoft Windows may not honor your color choices. Not only does Windows apply gradients automatically, all text must be visible against the background. The WinZip ThemeBuilder solves this problem by allowing you to select and test a color scheme before creating the final theme file. [NOTE: Modifying background colors requires WinZip 15.5 (Build 9510) or newer.]

STEP ONE: Determine requirements

Although the WinZip ribbon uses over 400 bitmaps, your theme does not need to provide replacement images for all of them. WinZip will use built-in bitmaps for any that are not provided.

To determine bitmap requirements for a given icon, you will need bitmapdescriptions.txt (included with the ThemeBuilder tool). This file lists all WinZip ribbon icons and the specific bitmaps required for each one.

WinZip bitmap description for the "Open With" icon


Number of Bitmaps Required: This example shows that the 'Open With' button requires six bitmaps (two small images and four large images). To replace the graphics for this icon, your theme will need to provide all the bitmaps that apply to the computer screen resolutions you wish to support. (See "DPI Requirements" below to determine which bitmaps you require.)

File Name and Size Requirements: Bitmapdescriptions.txt lists the required file name for each bitmap. In addition, the file name always includes the dimension requirement in pixels. In this example, one of the large images is named "openwith40.bmp" and consists of a 40x40 bitmap.

DPI Requirements: Each icon can require up to four different pixel dimensions for each image set. The ribbon will pick the appropriate size depending on the current screen resolution.  Make sure you create the appropriate bitmaps for your supported screen settings, otherwise WinZip will simply use default icons instead of your replacements. In this example, "openwith40.bmp" would be chosen for a screen using a display setting of 120 dots per inch (dpi).

STEP TWO: Get Creative!

Now that you understand the parameters and requirements for each icon, you are ready to start making some new bitmaps! Have fun and explore your creative side!

IMPORTANT! All bitmaps must be formatted as 32-bit RGB/A bitmaps (24-bit color plus 8-bit alpha channel for transparency).

Need some ideas?


Here are some categories to get you started!

Category: Seasons
Possible Themes: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Category: Holidays
Possible Themes: Halloween, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year, Earth Day

Category: Colors
Possible Themes: Sunny, Raining, Dusk, Midnight


STEP THREE: Use ThemeBuilder

WinZip's ThemeBuilder tool contains everything you need to turn a collection of bitmaps into your very own WinZip theme file!

1. Download and open ThemeBuilder.zip.

Get ThemeBuilder Now

You will find the following contents:

  • WinZip's ThemeBuilder tool (ThemeBuilder.exe)
  • Bitmapdescriptions.txt

2. Place all your bitmaps into a new, empty folder. If you have created a new watermark, save its bitmap to this folder as well.  

3. Run ThemeBuilder.exe. The following dialog appears:

ThemeBuilder dialog

4. Complete the following fields:

Theme name: A short display name for the theme. WinZip does not permit multiple themes with the same name. In addition, the theme name is used as a folder name, so avoid using too many characters that may make a file name invalid.

Description: A brief text description of the theme. This will be displayed as the tooltip when the user hovers over the theme name in the WinZip interface.

Bitmap folder: Name of the folder containing your bitmaps.

Missing bitmaps permitted: If this option is enabled, ThemeBuilder will allow a theme to be built that does not contain all 400 ribbon bitmaps. If not checked, ThemeBuilder will display the names of the bitmaps that were not found, and it will not create the theme file.

Output folder: Name of the folder where you want your theme to be saved. This can be the same as the bitmaps folder.

5. In the 'Ribbon colors' section, enter the RGB values for your desired ribbon color scheme. The results of your selection will be displayed in the ThemeBuilder's ribbon, allowing you to preview the final result before finalizing your theme. Use the 'Enabled' toggle to either apply or ignore a color change in the final build.  

6. Click 'Build'. Once ThemeBuilder has finished creating your .wztheme file, the following dialog appears:

Theme created

7. Click 'OK' to finish the process.

A brand new theme (.wztheme) has been created in your specified folder! Simply double-click on this file to automatically install the theme and add it to WinZip's Theme menu options!