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TODAY SCREEN: Taking an in depth look at the Windows Mobile 2003 Today Theme
Posted by Carlo Guerrero - on Monday, 05.04.04 - 01:05:50 CET under 11 - Tips and Tutorials - Viewed 32028x
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We have been fascinated by the ability to change the Pocket PC's Today Theme starting with Pocket PC 2000. Although limited, Pocket PC 2000 themes were as simple as copying two graphic files into the Windows folder to add a personal touch to our well loved devices. Pocket PC 2002 changed the landscape by allowing the user to have a wallpaper image with a watermarked Start menu. Pocket PC 2002 went even further with the ability to personalize individual elements in the Today theme.

With Windows Mobile 2003, more features are supported and more elements are opened up for tweaking. The Start menu now can be set to use preferred font colors, the color of the tap-and-hold circles can now be changed, and the internal colors (the horizontal lines in the list views of applications can also be modified.

But until recently, there was no easy way of creating a Today theme that was 100% Windows Mobile 2003 compatible. We still hear complaints of users having Pocket PC 2002 Today themes which don't appear right in Windows Mobile 2003. Did Microsoft break it? I don't think that would be a fair claim.

During my quest to solve the Windows Mobile 2003 Today theme dilemma, I contacted several developers. Most of them didn't offer solutions that covered all Windows Mobile 2003-specific elements. They supported a few, but not all.  This was until I came across Richard Owens who did a good job of breaking down the Today theme into more logical components.  We all knew that a Today theme uses two graphic files named stwater and tdywater.  Something that was not openly known was the contents of the third file which specifies the colors of various elements in the Today theme, and certain internal colors for Windows Mobile 2003.

Richard was able to break this third file down and has noted what each value represents. This file is the INF which specifies the registry changes in a Pocket PC and is contained in the *.TSK file which is essentially a renamed *.CAB file. You can create Windows Mobile 2003 compliant Today themes using ThemeBuilder 2003 by Richard Owens.

Signature = "$Chicago$"
CESignature = "$Windows CE$"
Provider = "Windows"

ProcessorType = 2577
UnsupportedPlatforms= "HPC","Jupiter"
VersionMin = 3.0
VersionMax = 100.0

1 = ,"Other",,

tdywater.gif = 1
stwater.gif = 1

CopyFiles = Files.Common.Windows


Files.Common.Windows = 0,%CE2% ;Windows
DefaultDestDir = 0,%InstallDir%

reg_path = SoftwareMicrosoftColor ;Where to store theme colors in the registry

;This is where the colors are actually specified. The defaults I'm showing here are for the Spriral.tsk that comes with Pocket PC 2003
;The defaults used by the Bliss theme are in the "Bliss Defaults.inf" file
;Here's the format (in hex): ,rr,gg,bb,00 ;What Theme Generator v2 says Description
HKLM,%reg_path%, 5,0x00000001,00,00,00,00 ;"Navigation Bar, Color 1" Task Bar color left
HKLM,%reg_path%, 8,0x00000001,00,00,00,00 ;"Navigation Bar, Color 2" Task Bar color right
HKLM,%reg_path%, 9,0x00000001,ff,ff,ff,00 ;"Navigation Bar, Text" Vertical start bar and Application Title/Clock text
HKLM,%reg_path%, 4,0x00000001,ff,ff,ff,00 ;"Today text, Text" Today Screen text
HKLM,%reg_path%, 6,0x00000001,00,00,cc,00 ;"Today text, Color 1" Today Screen horizontal bars
HKLM,%reg_path%, 7,0x00000001,00,00,f7,00 ;"Command bar, Color 1" System tray background
HKLM,%reg_path%,10,0x00000001,e4,4e,05,00 ;"Navigation Tray, Color 1" Notification multi-icon highlight (when tapped to show Notification Tray)
HKLM,%reg_path%,11,0x00000001,00,00,f7,00 ;Always C0,C0,C0 Notification Tray background
HKLM,%reg_path%,12,0x00000001,00,00,f7,00 ;Always 80,80,80 Notification icon highlight (when icon is tapped on Notification Tray)
HKLM,%reg_path%,13,0x00000001,00,00,f7,00 ;"Message, Color 1" Normal Notification title color left
HKLM,%reg_path%,14,0x00000001,00,00,f7,00 ;"Message, Color 2" Normal Notification title color right
HKLM,%reg_path%,15,0x00000001,ff,ff,ff,00 ;only works in Pocket PC 2003 Notes/Tasks/etc List background color left 2
HKLM,%reg_path%,16,0x00000001,f4,f0,ec,00 ;only works in Pocket PC 2003 Notes/Tasks/etc List background color right 2
HKLM,%reg_path%,25,0x00000001,b0,00,54,00 ;"Important message, Color 1" Critical Notification title color left
HKLM,%reg_path%,26,0x00000001,ff,00,00,00 ;"Important message, Color 2" Critical Notification title color right
HKLM,%reg_path%,27,0x00000001,ff,ff,ff,00 ;Found and added by RLO Normal Notification title text (works in 2002 and 2003)
HKLM,%reg_path%,28,0x00000001,ff,ff,ff,00 ;Found and added by RLO Critical Notification title text (works in 2002 and 2003)
HKLM,%reg_path%,36,0x00000001,fe,fe,ff,00 ;only works in Pocket PC 2003 Notes/Tasks/etc List background color left 1
HKLM,%reg_path%,37,0x00000001,d9,cc,c0,00 ;only works in Pocket PC 2003 Notes/Tasks/etc List background color right 1
HKLM,%reg_path%,38,0x00000001,c2,06,05,00 ;only works in Pocket PC 2003 I don't see where this color is used by the OS, but the Spiral.tsk that comes with 2003 sets it to c2,06,05 If you see what it does, tell me oe1kenobi at
HKLM,%reg_path%,39,0x00000001,ff,ff,ff,00 ;only works in Pocket PC 2003 Start Menu text
HKLM,%reg_path%,40,0x00000001,00,00,f7,00 ;only works in Pocket PC 2003 Tap-and-hold dots

;The following are treated as valid entries by the OS, but don't appear to do anything. Just leave them commented-out unless you want to try them.
;HKLM,%reg_path%, 0,0x00000001,ff,00,00,00
;HKLM,%reg_path%, 1,0x00000001,ff,00,00,00
;HKLM,%reg_path%, 2,0x00000001,ff,00,00,00
;HKLM,%reg_path%, 3,0x00000001,ff,00,00,00
;HKLM,%reg_path%,19,0x00000001,ff,00,00,00 ;might be valid for Pocket PC 2002, but not 2003
;HKLM,%reg_path%,29,0x00000001,ff,00,00,00 ;might be valid for Pocket PC 2003, but not 2002
;HKLM,%reg_path%,30,0x00000001,ff,00,00,00 ;might be valid for Pocket PC 2003, but not 2002
;HKLM,%reg_path%,31,0x00000001,ff,00,00,00 ;might be valid for Pocket PC 2003, but not 2002
;HKLM,%reg_path%,32,0x00000001,ff,00,00,00 ;might be valid for Pocket PC 2003, but not 2002
;HKLM,%reg_path%,33,0x00000001,ff,00,00,00 ;might be valid for Pocket PC 2003, but not 2002
;HKLM,%reg_path%,34,0x00000001,ff,00,00,00 ;might be valid for Pocket PC 2003, but not 2002
;HKLM,%reg_path%,35,0x00000001,ff,00,00,00 ;might be valid for Pocket PC 2003, but not 2002

;19 and 41-109 (at least) are not removed by the Pocket PC 2003 OS after a theme using them is removed, so are assumed to be invalid for that OS
;29-109 (at least) are not removed by the Pocket PC 2002 OS, so are assumed to be invalid for that OS

AppName=Theme ;Internal name of this theme

The *.INF file controls all the colors and the file above shows Richard's comments as to which registry entry controls the item and color. You will notice that the colors are in hex format. And if you look at the Start menu text colors (39), for this particular *.TSK file, it is set as white (ff,ff,ff), Most noticeable with certain iPAQs which have been upgraded to ROM 1.10, the Start menu font colors now default to white (ff,ff,ff) even if the *.TSK is not a Windows Mobile 2003 compliant *.TSK.  It seems that the two solutions left to override the white Start menu font colors is to 1. modify the *.TSK file or 2. to edit the registry which upon changing the Today theme, will revert back to its default setting unless a Windows Mobile 2003 compliant Today theme is used.

Specifying colors will not be that easy unless you have a table that gives you all the colors or a site like Web Colors to help you determine which colors are suitable for your Today theme.

Creating the *.TSK file using ThemeBuilder 2003 all that is needed is the *.INF file featured above and two graphic files.  The Start Image named stwater.gif has to be sized 174x304 if it is an image, anything smaller will be stretched to fill the width. The Today image called tdywater.gif has to be sized 240x268 to fill the screen perfectly.  The Batch file in ThemeBuilder 2003 will then take care of the necessary task of producing the *.TSK file with the use of makecab.exe and CabWiz.exe which will result in a *.TSK file named theme.tsk. Just rename this file in your own liking and you now have a 100% Windows Mobile 2003 Today theme.

Incidentally, FunnySnake has also released a freeware Windows Mobile 2003 compliant Today theme creator called TKCreater which allows the user to edit or create themes on their Pocket PCs.

If you want an easy way of creating Windows Mobile 2003 Today themes you can also check out KAMware's Thememaker 2003

Happy skinning.

Mabuhay! ~ Carlo


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