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Guide:How to modify install.wim


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1.What you need.

Depending on your goals you will need several programs to modify the image.The only one absolutly nessesary is WAIK(Windows Automated Installation Kit).GimageX needs WAIK(specifically ImageX)to work.Its purpose is same as ImageX-s but you can get the job done using graphical interface(istead of command line enviroment of ImageX).ResHacker is needed if you want to modify internal structures of a sytem file.Unfortunately it seems that it only supports 32bit files due to the fact that it is no longer being developed.WinRAR if for extracting ISO files.Logonstudio is for modifying logonscreen background and DirectX is nessessary if you want to include it in the .wim.

WAIK: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details...;DisplayLang=en

GimageX: http://www.autoitscript.com/gimagex/

ResourceHacker: http://www.angusj.com/resourcehacker/

WinRAR: http://www.rarlab.com/download.htm

Vista LogonStudio: http://rapidshare.com/files/85239952/Logon.rar.html

Latest DirectX: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details...;displaylang=en

Windows Theme Patches: http://www.withinwindows.com/uxtheme-patches/

DeviantArt Vista Themes: http://browse.deviantart.com/?catpath=cust...q=vista%2Btheme

Unlocker: http://ccollomb.free.fr/unlocker/


Choose the windows image you wish to modify and extract it to folder of your choice.Open vLite and direct it to that folder.vLite now prompts you to select the edition.Select the edition you want.Do not modify the image in any other way or integrate anything into it.Simply choose Apply and Rebuild.When rebuilt choose "Make ISO".When ISO is complete exit vLite.Now open ISO with WinRAR and select sources/install.wim and extract it to empty folder.

Now you need to do a few simple things.Install WAIK by extracting the contents of the ISO into empty folder or by mounting the ISO with your favorite mounting software.ISO can also be opened with WinRAR.When mounting/extracting complete launch either WAIKX86.Msi(32bit) or WAIKAMD64.Msi(64bit) depending on the system youre running and the image you wish to modify.Extract GimageX and ResHacker(and their needed files) into a new folder in Program Files or where ever you deem nessessary(they are click-and-run type apps...no installation required).Make sure you have atleast 5GB-10GB free space in your hard drive(s)!.Create empty folder(this will be the place where (G)ImageX mounts the install.wim later.


Open either ImageX or GimageX(ImageX can be found Start Menu-All Programs-Microsoft Windows AIK-Windows PE Tools Command Prompt-and typing in imagex).This guide focuses more with mounting/unmounting on GimageX.For correct commands for ImageX see your ImageX Documentation(Start Menu-All Programs-Microsoft Windows AIK-Documentation).

In GimageX select Mount as seen in picture below:


Make sure Read/Write and Commit Changes checkboxes are checked as seen in picture below:


Now select Browse behind the Mount Point line.Browse to the folder that you created earlier.GimageX will mount the install.wim into this folder.

Select Browse behind the Source line.Browse to the folder where you extracted the install.wim.Make sure that the folder is not write proctected...otherwise mounting will fail.

Click Mount.If all goes as planned you should see a message saying that image was mounted sucessfully in about 5-10 seconds.Now minimize GimageX and go to the folder where install.wim was mounted.Unfortunately not all parts of the image can be modifyed.It is better not to touch Program Files and Users folders.You can add things to these folders but you can not delete files from those folders.Also files that you add will become protected and un-deletable.Windows folder seems to be generally unprotected.

4.Making changes

So now that your image is mounted you wonder what can you change/customize?.Here is a short list of things you can do:

*Add your own screensavers:Screensavers are stored in C:/Windows folder.You can delete default screensavers or add you own.Notice that the screensavers you add must be in .scr format.Otherwise Vista will not recognize them.Now you can choose your own screensavers after Vista install.

*Update DirectX to the latest version:Download the latest DirectX runtime from the link above.First you must install it to your current OS.Then go to C:/Windows/System32 and sort the files so that you can see the files that have been modified lately.Copy the files and paste them to the same folder of your mounted image.When asked to replace older files(Move and Replace) do so.Do not choose Move but keep both files!.Now you have the latest DirectX installed out-of-box.

*Modify Vista logonscreen:To do that download Stardock Vista Logonstudio from the link above.Its pretty easy to use so i wont go into detail here.After you have selected your new logonscreen background and pressed apply then go into C:/Windows/System32 and search for file named imageres.dll or simply sort the files to see the file last modified.Copy this file into the same folder of your mounted image and replace the default one.Now when you install Vista you will be greeted with your own logonscreen background.

*Modify Vista startup sound:This a bit more complex so bare with me here.Open ResourceHacker and select File--Open from menu and direct it to C:/Windows/System32 and search for imageres.dll(yes...again).When you have found it select open.It should look like this:


Now check the following file as seen in picture below:


Select Play WAVE.You should hear your Vista Startup sound.NB! it is VERY important that the new resource has the same folder number and resource language code as the old one.Also the sound MUST be in .wav format.The .wav must not be too long as it will then play on logonscreen and even when you log in.I suggest max 5 second long.Now delete the WAVE folder alltogether.After deleted select Action--Add new resource from menu and navigate to the folder where the .wav file is.then enter correct folder number and language number and click Add resource as seen below:


You can now let the system play the file to hear you .wav.Now select File--Save As from menu and save the file as imageres.dll.Copy-paste your new imageres.dll file to C:/Windows/System32 folder of your mounted image.Now everytime Vista starts it plays your favorite wav file.It is also possible to change both the logonscreen and startup sound in the same imageres.dll file.Also its possible change icons,bitmaps etc in the same file.

*Set your WinSAT(performance index) score to be higher:This is pretty simple.In your OS go to C:/Windows/Perormance/Winsat/datastore and select 2008-01-15 Assessment (Initial).WinSAT.xml(the date depends).And open it with Notepad and behind WinSPR line change the values to whatever you want as seen in picture below:


Now your computer is a supercomputer.Retesting does not change the score.If you want accurate score then simply delete this file and retest your PC.

*Change Theme(s):So you love the beatiful Aero theme but want something different or better?.I have good news for you.You can change the theme already inside the .wim file so you will have your new flashy theme out-of-box.So how to do that?.First(above everything else) you need to replace certain theme related files in C:\Windows\System32.Specifically 3 of them.You can get the right versions for your Vista from the link on top of this guide.The files are as follows:


Now once you`ve replaced these files with the downloaded ones your OS can use other so called "non-signed" themes.Now you need themes(what else).Follow the link on the top of the guide to download the themes you like.Make sure that the themes you downloaded are vista compliant otherwise things will not work out for you.Say you downloaded a theme named XxX.How to add it to windows?.Navigate to:

C:\Windows\Resources\Themes and copy the theme files into there.If you are unsure where a specific file sould go then follow the general file structure...its pretty easy.Mostly you wont have to overwrite anything so you can preserve the original Aero theme.There is however few files that need to be replaced in order for you new theme to work properly.Those files are in the Shell folder(all files in there).First i STRONGLY advise you to backup the original Shell folder and then copy the new files replacing the default ones.Once done that should be it.You should see your new theme when you logon into Vista first time.If you dont see it then go to: Control Panel\Appearance and Personalization\Personalization\ and clicking Window Color and Appearance following window appears:


Choose your theme and select OK.

*Change Theme(s) Part 2:What a... you think?.Well every theme can be further customized by changing the default desktop background color,window border color etc.In windows you can customize those things from:

Control Panel\Appearance and Personalization\Personalization\Window Color and Appearance\Open classic appearance properties for more color options\Advanced.Once configured to your liking go to:

C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Themes where you should see a file named Custom.theme.This is the file that stores those values you just managed from control panel.Copy or make a backup of this file and copy it to the .wim into 2 different locations:

C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows where you create folder named Themes and put the file inside.

C:\Users\Default user\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows where you create folder named Themes and put the file inside.

*Add items to global startup(for all users):Ever had the need to run something on startup automatically?.You problably have.Now you can set needed items into startup so they run the first time you logon into your new shiny Vista.If you already have items in startup in current Vista installation then open:Start Menu-->All Programs--> and make a rightclick on top of Startup folder selecting -->Explore All Users.Copy the needed shortcuts and paste them to:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup (Global).You can also copy custom items into startup that you want to run on startup(for example custom registry entries etc).

*Change/Delete/Add windows sounds:Bored with that logoff sound?.Hate the error sound?.Navigate to:

C:\Windows\Media and delete the ones you dont like.You can also add your own sounds to replace default windows sounds.Your custom sounds must be in .wav format and named accordingly:for example:delete Windows Logoff Sound.wav and replace it with your own .wav sound that is also named Windows Logoff Sound.wav.Thats it.Now everytime you log off you hear your own sound.

*Pre-Add Cookies:Go to:

C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Cookies and copy all your cookies.In .wim paste them to 1 or 2 locations:

C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Cookies or:

C:\Users\Default User\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Cookies

*Change Windows Default wallpapers:Bored with the default wallpapers?.Spice things up with custom wallpapers.If you follow the instructions then your custom wallpapers will show up during install also(during the user creation process...assuming the process hasnt been made unattended with vLite.Good way to impress people)Go to:

C:\Windows\Web\Wallpaper and delete the ones you dont like and add your own.Notice that the wallpapers you add MUST be in .jpg format and follow the general naming scheme or otherwise Vista wont "see" them properly.The naming scheme is img1-img36.As follows:


img2.jpg ...and so on.

IMPORTANT NOTICE!:Do not remove default wallpapers with vLite.if you do so and add your custom wallpapers then your custom wallpaper will be lost after first restart and desktop reverts back to black background.ONLY REMOVE MANUALLY!.

*Change Windows Default Dreamscenes:Pretty much same as the last one.You can find them in:

C:\Windows\Web\Windows Dreamscene .If the folder does not exist in .wim(Dreamscene.cab hasnt been integrated with vLite) then create it.Windows recognizes only dreamsecenes(video) in .mpg or .wmv format.The names do not matter as long as your dremscenes are in those formats.You can also copy .dream files there(they need Stardock DeskScapes v.1.1-2.0 to run)

*Change Windows User Account Pictures:In my opinion the default ones are lame and it hurts me when i have to choose between them during install because i dont really like any of them.I like my custom ones and i will explain how you can also enjoy custom ones now.In the mounted .wim go to:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\User Account Pictures .Delete the ones you dont like and copy your custom ones there.There are a few restrictions for your custom ones though:

1st:they must be in BMP format.

2nd:they must follow usertile2 - usertile?? naming scheme(the one in the root must be user.bmp).

There are no retrictions to resolution so you can use very high quality ones if you so like.When you have named them correctly and they are in .bmp format then they should show up during install too(again given that your install is not unattended in that part).The user.bmp is the default one so even if you use unattended install it will be set as your Account Picture.

*Cleaning Up the start menu:So you dont like some icon in your start menu after install?.In the mounted .wim go to:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu and remove the ones you dont like.There is a similar place in the administrator folder so it would be safe to clean them both up:

C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu .

*Cleaning Up Quick Launch:By default there are 2 icons displayed in quick launch:

Show Desktop and Switch Windows(Flip3D).By deleting them from 2 locations your quick launch will be clean after install:

C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

C:\Users\Default\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch

*Pre-Add Video & Picture Thumbnails:This one doesent seem to work properly but maybe you have more luck than me.Anyway...go to:

C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer in your current install and copy the files into:

C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer in your mounted .wim and paste the files there overwriting the default ones.You can also add these files to any other account that will be created afterwards by adding the files to:

C:\Users\Default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Explorer .

*Delete default Sidebar gadgets:This is not the same as option in vLite!.Vlite unfortunately allows only the removing of both Sidebar and its gadgets but not a specific gadget separately.This is your job to remove manually(unfortunately).Go to:

C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets and start deleting the contents of the folders manually(takes very much time because only files can be deleted not folders).

*Pre-Adding custom gadgets to sidebar:In your current install go to:

C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets and copy them to:

C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets in the mounted .wim. and optionally to:

C:\Users\Default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets .Now after install when your sidebar doesent atomatically start(hasnt been added to global startup or all default gadgets have been removed) then clicking Windows Sidebar in Start Menu and in loaded sidebar clicking the + sign on top brings up the following box:


...where your custom gadgets are already loaded and ready to be added to sidebar.If you add the contents of the ..\Gadgets folder to:

C:\Program Files\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets in .wim then they should be loaded automatically with sidebar after install.No installation or big configuring needed.

*Adding Custom Scan Profiles:Say you created custom scan profile for your scanner.You can pre-add it to:

C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Local\Microsoft\UserScanProfiles or

C:\Users\Default\AppData\Local\Microsoft\UserScanProfiles in .wim.

*Customize the rightclick "Send To" menu.Go to:

C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo and

C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo in .wim to delete the unnessesary send to places as for example the .zip folder(i dont know anyone who uses that).

*Add Skins To Windows Media Player 11:Download special WMP11 skins(they must be in .wmz format)and add them to:

C:\Program Files\Windows Media Player\Skins

*Delete\Add\Modify windows Cursors:Go to:

C:\Windows\Cursors and delete the ones you dont use.

*Pre-add Index files:This one may not work(as the thumbnails).In your current install go to:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data\Applications\Windows and copy the files to:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Search\Data\Applications\Windows in .wim .

IMPORTANT!.If indexing is running then you have to disable it from Services before copying the files!.

*Tweak Registry:Is it even possible to change a registry setting before install?(so called "offline").Apparently it is.Start up regedit.exe in C:\Windows or start WinKEY+R regedit.exe .Click either the HKEY_USERS key or HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE key.On the File menu, click Load Hive.Navigate to C:\WINDOWS\system32\config where the windows registry hive files are stored and select the one you want.As it is loaded....In Key Name, type the name that you want to assign to the hive and then click OK.When done making changes select:File-Unload Hive to unload the current Hive.Thats it.Your registry should be tweaked out of box.Also as a sidenote...if you have any exported registry files you can use the:File-Import command to import them to the current Hive..thus avoiding lenghty registry tweaking proccess and ensuring maximum compatability.Only thing to observe is that you are importing the regisry file into a Hive it belongs.

*Deleting any folder in the mounted image:As you by now know you can delete files but not folders(especially in \Users and \Program Files directories.Yet being able to do so would be great wouldnt it?.Unfortunately this requires help of a third-party tool called Unlocker witch you can download from the link above.Download Unloacker and install it.Start it up and navigate to folder that you want to delete and select:Rightclick-Unlocker.A window with different commands appears.Select Unlock All and you shüuld now be able to delete the unlocked folder,subfolders and files.Simply repeat this process for any folder you want to delete.I suggest running Unlocker with Administrator privileges(Rightclick-Run As Administrator).

*Changing OOBE Background:Those who are not so familiar with Vista will undoubtedly ask...what tha heck is OOBE?.It is Out Of Box Experience.The system responsible for user creation in the end of Vista install.But during that the background is just lame right?.Say you want to make the background look the same as your logonscreen or desktop?.This can be easily done by converting your own background to JPG format(resolution doesent matter) and naming it to oobe.jpg replacing the default file in C:\Windows\System32\oobe.jpg .

*Various Registry keys to Export(saves HUGE amount of manual configuring after clean install).Configure the named apps to your liking before exporting their settings!!.Type WinKey+R and type regedit.exe.In Regedit search for following keys:

WMP11 Settings - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\MediaPlayer

Explorer Settings - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer

IE7 Settings - HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer

Start Menu - HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\explorer\StartMenu

When found the needed key select:Rightclick-->Export to export the key somewhere.Now after executing these keys after clean install all relavent registry settings will be configured in seconds.You can also put the registry keys into global startup to have them automatically appear in first logon.


When you have done the necessary changes close the folder and maximize GimageX.Select Unmount.

In about 30 seconds image should be succesfully unmounted.Notice that the amount of time it takes to unmount the image depends on the number of changes you made to the image.More changes-->More time it takes to unmount.

/End of Guide

What you do wih the modified install.wim is up to you.For example i made a full so-called Base-Image with it.Now every time i make a new Vista build with vLite i use this image as a baseimage where i remove things and integrate drivers.(before i used Vista RTM build 6000 as base image).

Original Creation Date: 18.01.2008

Last Modified: 07.06.2008

Edited by Tomorrow
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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...
What about add themes ?

I will update this guide Saturday-Sunday(29-30 March).I will add many new things:Themes,Startup items,windows sounds,cookies,wallpapers,dreamscene videos,user account pictures and so on.So by monday you know how to change them in the .wim.

Also links in the first post will be updated(new WAIK,DirectX,GimageX versions have been released)

Edited by Tomorrow
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great guide for knowledge but not for me! i dont see why i would want to change logon screen, sounds, directx, screensavers etc when i can change all those after installing. my way of looking is why go thru all these hassle when it can be done later. I have yet to see something big change it can offer! but again its great guide and this is just my opinion....vlitening is justifiable since it saves me space and keeps junk out and biggest thing is that it's EASY to remove components and rebuild...thanks to Nuhi.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I am stuck at the beginning

Open vLite and direct it to that folder.vLite now prompts you to select the edition.Select the edition you want.Do not modify the image in any other way or integrate anything into it.Simply choose Apply and Rebuild.

You say not to modify the wim with updates or anything, so I don't... But if I don't then the Apply button is Grey... How do I rebuild?

Edited by ricktendo64
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I am stuck at the beginning
Open vLite and direct it to that folder.vLite now prompts you to select the edition.Select the edition you want.Do not modify the image in any other way or integrate anything into it.Simply choose Apply and Rebuild.

You say not to modify the wim with updates or anything, so I don't... But if I don't then the Apply button is Grey... How do I rebuild?

Did you check the "enable before apply " checkbox in vLite Tasks tab? .If that does not work then enable the tweaks tab and make 1 tweak and then Apply should be open.

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resource hacker can't seem to support "png" format. i have many icons in high quality png format that i want to use to replace the boring vista icons. is there a way with resource hacker to use png or a particular application?

thank you

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can someone please help me or show me how to convert png to ico, so i can use resource hacker to modify my icons in dll's or if there is a better shorter way to customize then please let me know. All i want to do is replace the icons in imageres.dll with high qaulity png icons that resource hacker does not support (png)

thank you

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