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This How To guide is going to show you how to customise or completely change the backgrounds in the Windows Card Games (Solitaire, FreeCell, Hearts & Spider Solitaire).

This guide does involve editing protected system files and you’ll need administrative permissions to complete it.  This has only been tested on a Windows 7 x86 machine.

Step 1.

We should start by covering our backs and allowing the modification of the necessary file.

Press the WinKey+R to open the Run dialog box.  Type cmd and click OK.

Type these commands in, hitting Enter after each one.

cd %windir%\system32

(Changes working directory to system32)

copy CardGames.dll CardGamesDEFAULT.dll

(Makes a copy of imageres.dll to the same folder)

TAKEOWN /F %windir%\system32\CardGames.dll && ICACLS %windir%\system32\CardGames.dll /GRANT Administrator:F

(Changes ownership to Administrator and allows full control of CardGames.dll)

The Customisation

Step 1.

Download Restorator 2007 from bome.com.  You can get a free-trial or use an alternative like ResHacker.  Restorator is highly recommended however.

Fire up Restorator and press Ctrl+O to invoke the open dialogue box.

Type in %windir%\system32\CardGames.dll and click OK

Head to the toolbar and click Tools > Grab Resources (Ctrl+Shift+G).

In the window that appears, match your settings to the one in the screenshot.  Specify your output folder and click Grab now.

Minimise Restorator for now.

Step 2.

This is where the fun starts!

Go ahead and open the folder of images you just extracted from CardGames.dll.  From here you can now customise the background with your preferred image editor (GIMP comes highly recommended by the members of Windows Forums).  The only backgrounds we’re interested in for now are the “BACKGROUNDSxxxxxX2.JPG. The X2 versions of the backgrounds are unsurprisingly, twice as large as the “BACKGROUNDSxxxxx.JPG”, therefore when we edit & save the “BACKGROUNDSxxxxxX2.JPG”, all we need to do it resize the image in your image editor to 50% of the pixels, Save As…, and overwrite the “BACKGROUNDSxxxxx.JPG” file.

The Replacement

Step 1.

So you’ve got the backgrounds and to where you want them to look.  Or, you’ve decided to completely replace the background.  If you’re completely replacing the background, decide on which one of the default backgrounds you want replace and resize the custom image according to the defaults size;  Note that with Felt, Brown Felt & Red Felt, the black borders in the image must remain.

Brown, Classic & Red Felt = 2048px x 1024px

Red Hearts & Green Nature = 1600px x 992px

Thumbnails = 94px x 98px

In either case, the images need ‘installing’.  In this example, I’ll be customizing the background Classic Felt and replacing Red Hearts.

Note that you can customise or replace any of the theme thumbnails in the same manner (BACKGROUNDSREDFELTTHUMB.PNG for example).  These are displayed in the Change Appearance dialog box in your card games.  (For the sake of keeping the guide as small as possible, we’ll concentrate on the backgrounds.)

Step 2.

Call back Restorator, expand the DATA folder and find your corresponding BACKGROUNDS\xxxxx(X2).JPG in the list.

Drag the image onto the appropriate item in the list.

You’ll know when something has happened in Restorator when you see a small arrow on the item.

I use Photoshop and after saving an image and dropping it into Restorator, its binary data appeared in the Resource Viewer.  Rest assured this doesn’t affect the actual background and is safe to save in this state.

Step 3.

When all of your changes have been made and you’re happy the correct images are in the correct place, go ahead and press Ctrl+S and quit Restorator.

All that is required now is to start-up a card game, press F7, change to the appropriate background (in this case, Green Felt or Red Hearts) and behold your pimped card game!

Return to Default.

To return to the default state all you need to do is close any open card games, navigate to %windir%\system32 in Explorer, delete CardGames.dll and rename CardGamesDEFAULT.dll to CardGames.dll

Want to apply a www.Mintywhite.com ThemePack to your Card Games?

See here for more info and screenshots!

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2 thoughts on “Customize the Backgrounds in Windows 7 Card Games [How To]”

  1. John Dale says:

    Great idea!!

    1. Stu says:

      Thanks John. I’m glad you like it. :)

Comments are closed.

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