Thursday, 9 October 2014

"This theme can't be applied to the desktop"

I'm currently configuring a new Windows Server 2012 R2 RDS environment for my customer to migrate to from their existing Windows Server 2008 R2 TS farm and this error message had been bothering me for quite some time: "This theme can't be applied to the desktop"

The error message appeared every time a user tried to start a RemoteApp program from the new RDS environment. The investigation concluded that a new user which had never logged in to the old TS environment did not get the error message, only users with an existing profile. Users were logging in from Windows 7 workstations/laptops. After some testing with various GPO settings under User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Control Panel\Personalization I discovered that forcing all users to use the Aero Theme solved the problem.

Under User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Control Panel\Personalization configure the setting "Load a specific theme" with "%windir%\Resources\Themes\aero.theme"


  1. Thanks for the post! Saw the same problem and saved me some time troubleshooting.

  2. We have exact the same issue. Only remoteapp sessions are unable to apply 'this theme'. Unfourtunatly the GPO setting does not solve our problem. We have roaming TS profiles and are migrating from 2008 to 2012 R2. Any ideas?

  3. Hi Richard, I'm afraid not. My best suggestion is to test some other GPO setting under User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Control Panel\Personalization

  4. Hello,

    I have also faced this in a RDS 2012 r2 platform and fixed it
    but the cause was something else :)

    I thought it would be helpful to share my experience.

    Luckily for me "only my domain user account was facing this message"
    when launching remoteApps / or opening a full mstsc/rdp session...

    1/ I first noticed that Event Viewer showed error events since a couple of months on folder redirection for my account

    2/ I went to the NAS location and compared the size of my user folder
    with a dozen of other users and mine was almost 1GB !!!!?! while the others were maximum 20 MB

    => I understood why I was getting logged to the session hosts of that collection with temporary profiles (c:\users\userXYZ.dom-contoso.001 or 002 etc ... !

    The guilty was, for a reason that I still can't figure out,
    that I had tons of .msu packages & temporary files under
    my redirected NAS RDS Folder's hidden recycle bin ?!

    Error no more happen now for me.
    I thought it would be helpful to share this.


  5. Hi Yassine,

    Thanks for sharing and I'm glad you managed to solve your problem :)


  6. This helped me out as well. Thanks for the info.

  7. I figured I would share MY experience with this. Being that I am in the same exact boat as Richard.

    - We have a remoteapps farm with server 2012 R2.
    - Our users have Windows 7 Enterprise desktops/laptops.
    - We also use roaming profiles with user profiles created with Windows 7, Server 2008, and Server 2008 R2 (Settings.V2)

    After coming across this article and virtually pulling my hair out, I came up with a solution very similar to Kim's solution as using "aero.theme" did not work for us either as Richard stated.

    Instead of using aero.theme, I used basic.theme. Did a gupdate /force on each remoteapp server and then restarted each remoteapp server.

    GPO Settings:
    - User Configuration\Administrative Templates\Control Panel\Personalization
    - Load a specific theme
    - "%windir%\Resources\Themes\basic.theme"(no quotes)

    Voila, it worked.

    I hope this helps someone by saving them the headache and heartache that I had to go through.

  8. Thanks for sharing Me You :)

  9. Top one, nice one, get sorteddd..

    Basic theme works nicely for me.. Cheers

  10. I fixed the problem by logging out and logging back in again. Rebooting didn't solve the problem.

    I had been deleted some user files from an account I was getting rid of. When I logged back into the new, clean, account everything was ok.