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HTC Sense UI Themes and Tweaks

By Anton D. Nagy March 27, 2010, 9:42 am

Sense UI is the latest generation of HTC’s custom built User Interface running on top of the Operating System and spreading deep inside it. You’ll probably be spending most of your time in Sense, so customizing it to your liking is a thing you’ll want to do. This guide is for Windows Phones running Sense like the HD2, Touch Pro2, Diamond2, Touch HD, and more.

By default, you can do very little to the User Interface. You can change the Home Tab wallpaper to an image of your liking but that will only be for the Home Tab and not for the rest of Sense. You can add or remove Home screen tabs, add, remove or rearrange Quick Links and that’s pretty much it. We’ll further show you how to customize Sense to your liking so that it suits your needs and stands out from the rest.

Basic Customizations Methods (Beginner)

1. Sense-wide Wallpaper:

In order to apply a wallpaper to all of Sense’s tabs, you will need an application called HDWall, which is a high resolution wallpaper editor application for your PC. With HDWall, you can create custom installable CABs with wallpapers of your choice that once applied, will be available throughout Sense. One other advantage to this app is that it will create nice and sharp backgrounds, so you no longer need to worry about Sense’s automatic blurring for the wallapapers.

2. High Quality Wallpaper Patch

Once here, it is a good idea to install the High Quality Wallpaper Patch which basically makes the taskbar and bottom soft key bar part of the wallpaper by blending it in and skinning it with the top and bottom parts of the backround. Make sure you install the file matching your Sense version (Settings Tab, About phone, Software Information, Manila version).

Tip: For consistent looks, you can choose the same wallpaper as a background for the Lock screen and Start Menu.

3. Make Components Transparent

At this point, you might be annoyed by the fact that some Sense components are still unchanged and the gray has a bad influence on overall aspect (ie: slider, calendar background, curtain, etc.) so you might want to install a Transparent Slider and make your Calendar’s background go away.

The ultimate resources for further Sense customization are two XDA Developers threads for Sense 2.5 tweaks & mods Part 1 and Part 2 where you can find several CABs that will remove top curtain, make your clock opaque or transparent, make music tab controls transparent and many others.

Advanced Customization with Max Manila (Intermediate)

Max Manila is a completely customized layout for Sense, giving you the ability to customize it to your liking. Again, make sure you install the proper file according to your Sense version.

Max Manila has lots of features with which you can experiment, from full screen mode, eight custom clocks, multiple shortcuts (12, 16 and 20) to three wallpaper modes, transparent slider, landscape support and rotation animation.

All the customizations can be changed from within Max Manila itself and you can access the settings page by swiping your finger top to bottom. Here you can customize Wallpaper, Call History, Calendar, Slider, Alert, Weather, Shortcuts, Fullscreen, Clock, Rotation and many more settings.

Your Home tab can have two layouts: a Normal one and a Full screen version. The Normal layout is pretty much the same as your stock Sense, with the taskbar and soft button bars visible. Full screen mode needs no explanation, it will hide your taskbar and bottom soft button bar, maximizing the Home tab. Both of these layouts have corresponding predefined touch zones for quick access to let’s say Contacts or Settings tab in Normal mode and Start Menu and Lock screen in Full screen mode.

Using Max Manila will allow you to quickly change the type of clock displayed on your Home tab by a simple tap, cycling through the eight featured clock types.

For another look of Max Manila read our post and for a complete list and description of each setting and feature, please visit its XDA Developers thread. It’s huge!

Advanced Customization with Co0kie’s Home Tab and Co0kie’s Home Tab Editor (Advanced)

1. Co0kie’s Home Tab

Co0kie’s Home Tab is a Manila modification which basically adds the following goodies: Home tab with 4 views and lots of options, extended Quick Links, extended Appointments, an optional Call History button, configurable links (for Alarm, Calendar, Call History, Date, Weather, Clock) and four animation levels.

The Home tab can show three, four or five Quick Links, but this is a tricky one: your Home tab will actually get three subsequent pages, which can all hold up to 25 links each, with a combined total of 75 shortcuts. Do you have that many? On the top right part of your screen, right on the curtain, you will have a graphical display (two gray lines and a white one) of what sub-tab of the three you are currently in.

Tha Calendar can show Appointments for the upcoming whole month, with a total of five Appointment slots available for displaying at the same time. Depending on the size of your main Quick Links (three, four or five) you can uncover the rest of the Appointments by swiping the Quick Links down, which will hide them so you are only presented with the Calendar events. In the same manner, swiping the Calendar up will show less Appointments and another swipe up will bring you the quick links. Swipe left or right in your Quick Links (according to the sub-tab you’re in – check visuals on top right) and your other set of links will be displayed.

Adding or Removing Quick Links is easy and it’s almost the same as default but those running older Sense versions now have the ability of Tapping, Holding and Dragging to quickly rearrange icons.

2. Co0kie’s Home Tab Editor

Co0kie’s Home Tab Editor is a life saver! Initially, all of Co0kie’s Home Tab settings needed to be changed via Registry Edits. This was a killer! With Co0kie’s Home Tab Editor, you can customize all the settings in a centralized screen where you can apply several simultaneously, saving you lots of trouble and time.

Settings are displayed in groups: in Quick links layout you can choose between four display types for 3×3, 4×4, 5×4 and 5×5 icons. Then in the Animation level section you can choose between None, Simple, Optimized and Original. Call history and Calendar can be both set up Always hide, Always show or Auto hide (I use the last one, which will make them only appear when needed).

Your Program selector screen can be a List, a four column or a five column grid while one group below you can set the number of future days for which the Appointments are displayed on your Home tab. The total number of Quick Link sub-tabs which can be displayed is three but if you don’t need that many you can customize the number to two or one and you also set which page of Quick Links to be opened first by default, first, second or third.

Is the Miscellaneous settings group you can experiment with small changes for hiding texts on shortcuts, hiding the shortcut text background, hide empty shortcuts, etc., they’re pretty straightforward and self explanatory.

The last group, called Applications, is where you can customize what application runs when you tap on the Alarm, Calendar, Call History, Clock, Date and Weather.

Don’t forget to Apply changes before you Exit. Co0kie’s Home Tab Editor also allows you to Restore defaults or Export your settings for quick Import. This way you can have several layouts set up and quickly switch between them.

Above you have a short take on a few Sense UI customizations you can apply to your device, a good starting point in your journey and remember, we all use our devices differently, run different programs and have different tastes but with these tools you can really make the device your own!

What Sense UI themes and tweaks do you use?

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