Make your iPhone UI look like Windows Vista.

posted by @ 2:17 AM
September 29, 2008

Disclaimer: is not responsible for any damage caused to your devices due to any information found on this site.  Please use this knowledge at your own risk.

In my opinion, one of Apple’s greatest strengths is the thought and time that goes in to the design process of their products.  From hardware to packaging, Apple’s designs are clean, sleek and easy to use.  The iPhone is no exception, it is a simple and straight forward device to use.  Everything in the iPhone is laid out in an easy to navigate user interface.  However, what Apple forgot to do was to include ways of applying any sort of personalization to the phone.  Let’s say I’m sick of looking at an all black background behind my icons, and would like to spice it up with some custom wallpapers.  Or I could be bored with the simplistic look of my icons in general and would like to apply a different theme to them.  There should be an easy way to change these elements to give my device a more personalized touch. 

One of the fun things you can do with a jailbroken iPhone is change the way the user interface looks and operates.  If you have not yet jailbroken your iPhone, read my post here about the benefits as well as a guide on how to jailbreak.  Once your phone is jailbroken there are a few different applications that you can install that will help the themeing process.  The theme I’m going to talk about today is an almost total Windows Vista conversion.  Applying a theme like this does take some time to setup though, and is not recommended for first time iPhone modders.   

First you will need to load up Cydia app installer and download three programs.  The first program you will need is called Winterboard.  Winterboard lets you skin the iPhone’s icons, backgrounds and majority of programs.  The program is pretty safe to use because none of your original phone files get overwritten, they only get masked.  The second program that you should download is called Categories.  Categories is a great app that lets you group your program icons in to folders, in order to keep your iPhone menu less cluttered.  The third thing you will need to install is an SSH program called OpenSSH.  This program lets your iPhone communicate with your computer so you can explore your phone’s file system and place your theme files in their appropriate locations.  All three of these programs can be found under the featured package section in Cydia. 

After you install all three of these programs, reboot your iPhone to make sure everything installed properly.  If you’re a windows user you will also need to download an ftp program, you can get a free one like Filezilla from here FileZilla Download.  This program will be what we use to connect to the iPhone wirelessly in order to view its file system.  Note: you really should not be messing around in the iPhone’s file system if you don’t know what you are doing.  If a system file is moved or deleted you will most likely have to restore your phone.  You can download the theme files from here Iphone Vista Theme.  Majority of this theme was created by spec works I just modified some files and icons to better suit my needs. If you’re good at Photoshop you can mod any graphic on the phone you want.  The zip file contains many readme instructions that detail every part of the setup, so if you get stuck at a part refer to those.  Load up your free ftp program (filezilla in this case), and select file from the toolbar and then site manager.  Create a new site with these settings, 

Host: your iPhone’s IP address (to find this turn on your wifi and press the blue triangle on your access point connection.  Wifi has to be on in order to ssh in to your phone)

Port: 22

Servertype:  SFTP – SSH File Transfer Protocol

Logontype: Normal

User: root

Password: alpine

Name your newly created site iPhone.  Now try to connect, make sure your iPhone is not asleep and that the wifi is on, if a connection is successful you should see a directory listing.  Unzip the theme file and open the folder that says Winterboard.  Now in Filezilla navigate to the root of your iPhone so all directories are visible.  Next double click on the Library folder, and then double click on the Themes folder.  You will notice in the bottom window of Filezilla, existing directories of default Winterboard themes.  Now drag the vista theme folder from the zip file to the Themes folder on your phone, you can drop it in the bottom window in Filezilla.  Make sure you drag it to an empty area though or it will be placed in to another folder already in that directory.  Then Navigate back to the root directory of the iPhone and find the applications folder.  Inside the applications folder double click on the Categories folder and then double click on the icons folder.  Select all the icons in the Categories icons folder from the theme zip file and place them in to the icons folder on your phone.  If at anytime the connection breaks between your phone and the ftp software just reconnect from the site manager. 

Now load up the Winterboard program and if you’ve placed the vista theme folder in the right directory you should see it listed in the available themes.  Select it and press the home button.  The phone should do a soft reset of the springboard and when it comes back your icons and background should look like vista.  The icons will be all out of place though, so you will need to position them in the right order.  I’ve also included in the zip file a background for your lock screen.  The file is called lockscreen wallpaper, sync that photo to your phone so you can apply it as your wallpaper.  I’ve replaced the slide to unlock button with a vista login button, you won’t need to slide anything anymore, you just tap the button to unlock.  If you don’t like the new unlock button just delete the folder found in the winterboard\vista theme\bundles folder. 

            Example of the new lock screen 


Now open up Categories and start creating folders to stick your icons in.  When the program asks you to choose an icon for your new folder just scroll down to one of the vista icons that you transferred to your phone.  You can use my screen shots as a guide on where to place and what to name your icons.  In the theme zip file there is a directory of blank apps.  These are basically programs that do nothing and have no icon.  Transferring the individual blank apps folders in to the applications directory on your phone allows you to make spacers between icons to get that more realistic desktop feel.  You can also customize the look of each category folder.  Press the “i” icon at the bottom of the screen once you are in your new folder you created, to set up individual folder settings.  My settings are
folder titles: off
icon labels: off
use background.png: on
left/right scroll: on
rows: 4
icons theme: vista theme

Once you created all your folders and placed all your programs you want in there, you can SSH back in to your phone where you will see the new folders you just created in the applications directory on your phone (when you create a new categories folder, your phone sees it as an application).  You can then open these folders and drag new background images in to them from the zip file folder called Categories backgrounds.  Each folder can have its own background by replacing the background.png file in its corresponding app folder on your iPhone.  If you want to use a custom background just overwrite the background.png file with the ones I’ve included in the zip.  Then in your Categories folder settings, switch on the option to use background.png.  You will need to do this for all your new folders you just created.  When all this is done, go in to the categories program on your phone and press the “restart SB” button, this will ensure that all your new settings apply.  You will then need to organize all your icons and position them where they need to go.  Just use your iPhone’s built in function to do this (holding down on an icon for a few seconds). 

                    Picture of my start menu                                       

              Picture of the my computer folder 

    picture of recycle bin folder (just for show really)      

picture of control panel folder (used blank apps for spacing)

To do all this correctly really takes some time, and someone who has experience with SSH.  Learn how to use Categories and Winterboard before you attempt any of this, also get familiar with SSHing in to your phone and navigating around its file system.  If this sounds like a little too much work for you, you can always load up Cydia and download a number of themes they have included on there.  That way you won’t have to mod or SSH any files yourself.  Just download a theme, load up Winterboard, and select the theme you just downloaded.  I like to have control over every aspect of my theme, that’s why I like setting up the files myself.  If you are up to the challenge go for it.

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