Appearance and Themes Tab Missing – Display Properties

Windows XP Appearance and Theme tab is missing from the Display Properties. The most likely cause of this is malware utilizing Group Policy Objects which enforces policies for system settings and/or user account(s) settings. The Group Policy for Hide Appearance and Theme tab will cause the Appearance and Theme tab to be removed from Display Properties when enabled.

Group Policies are typically applied at businesses to control access to programs, system properties, and user account settings. For Home users, Appearance and Theme tab can be removed these Group Policies but usually malware is the culprit. If you are a home user and the Appearance and Theme tab is missing from the Display Properties and looks like the pictures below then there is a good chance you are infected with malware.

NOTE

Ensure your computer is malware free before applying the following solutions.

CAUTION

Before making any changes to the Windows XP Registry, please backup your Windows XP Registry using the direction from "Using ERUNT to back up the Windows XP Registry".

Manual Steps Using Group Policy Editor

NOTE

The Group Policy Editor requires Administrative privileges and is only available for Windows XP Professional Edition. Windows XP Home users can use the Windows XP Registry method to remove the Group Policy restriction.

  1. Click Start and then Run.
  2. Type gpedit.msc in the Run dialog box.
  3. Press ENTER on your keyboard.
  4. In the Group Policy Editor navigate to:

    User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Control Panel > Display

  5. Double-click Hide Appearance and Theme tab.
  6. Select Not Configured.

NOTE

If the Appearance and Theme tab is missing on a per User account basis then the above method will not work, you will need to use the Registry Editor to remove the Group Policy.

Manual Steps Using Windows XP Registry

  1. Click Start and then Run.
  2. Type regedit.exe in the Run dialog box.
  3. Press ENTER on your keyboard.
  4. Navigate to:

    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

  5. Right-click NoDispAppearancePage to select Modify.
  6. Change the value to 0.
  7. Navigate to:

    HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

  8. Right-click NoDispAppearancePage to select Modify.
  9. Change the value to 0.
  10. Quit the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe).

NOTE

You may need to log off then log on to your user account or restart your computer for the changes to take affect.

Manual Steps Using REG ADD

  1. Open a Command Window.
  2. Type:

    REG ADD "HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System" /v NoDispAppearancePage /t REG_DWORD /d 0

  3. Press ENTER on your keyboard.
  4. Type:

    REG ADD "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System" /v NoDispAppearancePage /t REG_DWORD /d 0

  5. Press ENTER on your keyboard.
  6. Type EXIT and press ENTER on your keyboard.

NOTE

You may need to log off then log on to your user account or restart your computer for the changes to take affect.

Automated Fix Using an Registration File

  1. Download AppThmTb.Show.reg to a folder on your hard drive.
  2. Right-click AppThmTb.Show.reg to select Merge.
  3. Now the registration entries are added for you.

NOTES

The AppThmTb.Show.reg file is from my web server (http://lprf.homeserver.com).  You also can view the contents of the AppThmTb.Show.reg file by right-clicking the file and selecting Edit. You may need to log off then log on to your user account or restart your computer for the changes to take affect.

Platforms Tested

  • Microsoft Windows XP Editions
Related Articles

Version 3.1
Edited: May 2, 2012

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11 Responses to Appearance and Themes Tab Missing – Display Properties

  1. Dixie Web says:

    Thanks Bill…. Used the app download after confirming group policy was ok… worked perfectly.. Appreciate your time

  2. Julian Foxon says:

    Great advice, many thanks and it worked! I used the option to edit the Registry, although I didn’t get any option as per your point 8 (Right-click NoDispAppearancePage to select Modify.). Anyway, it worked, so many thanks

  3. Arnold says:

    I had only the themes window or tab. I used an upgrade windows xp sp2 cd with no previous windows on the HD although I did have the earlier win 98 cd. Anyway I have Win XP Professional SP3 installed. After I did the automated fixes trying to get the rest of the tabs to show in the Display Properties dialog window, logged off-on, restart and still only see the Themes of the Display Properties dialog window > no tab labled Themes. Check the regedit to see in the fixes were there and they are. Any solutions or suggestions?

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