Thanks the helpful suggestions.
Fuzzy Logic, I read a little about ViStart over at the VTP site. I'm also NOT a fan of Vista Start menu. Some aspects of the look are okay but not the feel/usability. I'm also not fond of "faux" UI elements added soley for realistic appearance. So I ended up switching to skins that don't have a fake search tool, like Arrow and Diamond.
Cavan1, I tried toggling the use replacement user icon setting, but it had no effect on Aero Ultimate skin. One good thing about Aero Ultimate compared to some others, including Diamond, is the user name and icon box are displayed properly. With Diamond and a few others, most of the user name and icon are truncated. These skins don't seem to have enough room at the top of the Start menu.
Island Dog, your article was very helpful. Saved me a lot of time finding nice skins, wallpapers and icons.
Unfortunately, information useful for new visitors (and returning visitors like me) is buried under an overwhelming mountain of content and difficult to find without some helpful souls pointing it out...
I could use help from you guys on one more topic. Of course, even the best skin we want to tweak a bit right? I just want to make a couple small mods like: (1) change Diamond to use Microsoft Vista start menu icon, (2) change Arrow skin Logoff and Shutdown button hover color to something other than baby blue, and (3) remove faux UI elements from Aero Ultimate.
But when I open these skins in SkinStudio and navigate to the elements in question all progress comes to a halt. The editor interface is just not intuitive as to what I should do next and digesting all the tutorials is overwhelming for someone who is never going to design an entire skin (at least not before I retire). Finally, do we need permission from the author even when making a micro modification on one's own computer?