Use Substratum to Install a Custom Theme Without Root on Android Oreo

Edited by Jay, Maria

It's no surprise around here that we're fans of Android Oreo in regards to its customization potential. We've covered using ADB with Windows, as well as how to customize Battery Saver Mode. In older versions of Android, most serious tweaking could only be accomplished on devices with root access. Things like changing the theme, for example, were just not possible on rootless phones or tablets. But, since the release of the Substratum Add-on Andromeda, Oreo users have some of the capabilities that were once reserved for rooted devices.

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In our step-by-step tutorial on installing custom themes, we go over setting up both the Substratum and Andromeda Add-on apps, in addition to getting them up and running on a Windows PC (with links provided for Mac and Linux). For those of you who don't yet have these two apps installed and working correctly, please check out our comprehensive guide here.

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The purpose of this VisiHow how-to, however, is to showcase the Substratum theme engine and Andromeda rootless add-on in action. We're going to grab a custom theme from the Play Store and walk through the steps on how to apply it to your device. For this tutorial, we installed the free theme called BalticUI for Substratum, on a Google Pixel running Android 8.1.0.

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**Please Note** BalticUI for Substratum is a free theme. You don't have to use this one to follow along with this article. There are other free and paid custom themes available that will work also. Just be sure when you search the Play Store to include the keyword "Substratum" or "OMS". Themes that mention the terms "Legacy" or "RMO" will not work correctly with your device.

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Download a Custom Theme for Android Oreo

Please remember that you do not have to use the following theme. You can choose any theme you wish as long as it meets the criteria mentioned above. We selected this theme for this tutorial because it is free and works well for demonstration purposes.

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  1. 1
    On the home screen, tap or swipe up from the arrow to access the app drawer.
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  2. 2
    From the app drawer, tap the "Play Store" shortcut.
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  3. 3
    Once inside the Play Store, search for "BalticUI" (without the quotes)
    .
    Again, you can use other themes, just be sure they work with the Substratum theme engine and the Andromeda Add-on (rootless).
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  4. 4
    When the search results populate, tap the first result (BalticUI for Substratum).
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  5. 5
    Once the app's info screen loads, tap the green "INSTALL" button. Once your theme is installed, continue to the next section
    .
    Make sure Substratum and Andromeda are connected as outlined in the initial tutorial.
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Installing Custom Themes on Android Oreo with Substratum

  1. 1
    If this is your first time using Substratum, you'll be met with some introduction screens
    .
    Skip to through them to get to the permissions overview.
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  2. 2
    When the Permissions Overview pop-up appears, read through it, then tap "ACCEPT".
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  3. 3
    Next you'll see another pop-up asking for permission to your device's photos, media, and files
    .
    Tap "ALLOW" to proceed.
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  4. 4
    Once permissions have been granted, you'll land on Substratum's main screen
    .
    Next, tap the theme you wish to install (in our case it's BalticUI).
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  5. 5
    When the theme loads, make sure the "OVERLAYS" tab is selected
    .
    Also, check the box next to "Android System" (in our case this is 8.1.0).
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  6. 6
    The first three options are for the; Accent, Primary, and Background colors
    .
    Tap the drop-down arrow, then select your colors.
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  7. 7
    Once you've chosen your colors, scroll through and select which App/Apps you wish to apply the overlays on
    .
    Make sure if you see any drop-down arrow to tap them, and choose the setting you prefer.
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  8. 8
    The theme developer has advised leaving both "System UI QS Tile Icons" and "System UI Status Bar Icons" unchecked
    .
    Once you have all the app/apps and options selected, tap the round build icon, followed by "Build & Enable".
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  9. 9
    Once your theme has finished building without errors (usually quickly), go into your settings app and look for the changes
    .
    In our example, we had black as our primary and background colors, and as you can see, the theme applied the overlays successfully.
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Uninstall Themes on Android Oreo

  1. 1
    To revert to your original stock theme, open Substratum and tap the "Recovery" option at the bottom of the screen.
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  • 2
    On the recovery screen, tap "Theme", followed by either "Disable all enabled overlays" or "Uninstall all installed overlays"
    .
    Choosing Disable will allow you to apply your theme settings again without having to go through each app. Uninstalling will delete the theme options, and you'll have to reapply each app overlay.
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  • Once the theme is uninstalled or disabled, you'll be taken back to Substratum's main screen.

    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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    Article Info

    Categories : Software | Use Google Pixel and Pixel XL | Use Android Oreo

    Recent edits by: Jay

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