How to load ROM’s or themes on an HTC EVO (root only)

September 13, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka

Android Hacks, Android Tutorials, HTC


Quite a few folks on our YouTube channel have noticed that the EVO I’ve shown in recent videos does not look like what you typically find. That’s because I purposely altered my phone to look different. You may remember that I already showed how to do this on the G1 last year, but plenty of (probably most) EVO users weren’t around back then.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to load ROM’s and themes to customize the look of your Android phone. Keep in mind that you MUST have a rooted phone in order for this to work. This tutorial assumes you have already achieved root and have ClockworkMod, the custom recovery that came when I rooted my phone. A video showing the journey is available at the end of the screen.

1. Find a ROM or theme to load.

The theme that I’ve been using lately is Manup’s REVOlution EVO running on Fresh for EVO. I love it because it’s minimal and stylish.

Themes and ROM’s are available at various websites, but I tend to just get them from the XDA Developers Forum. Navigate to your device’s forum and browse the “Themes and Apps” section for themes or “Development” section. Be sure to always read the directions because applying a non-compatible theme to your ROM could create problems.

2. Load the ROM or theme onto the SD card.

Copy the theme you downloaded (should be “THEME/”) to the SD card. Mount the phone into disk mode and then drag or send it to the root of your SD card (root of the SD card means directly on F:/ and not in any folders like F:/stuff).


NOTE: Before proceeding please make sure that your phone is fully charged. Do not power off or interrupt your phone while applying updates.


3. Boot into recovery mode.

On the EVO:

  • Hold down the power button and choose “Power Off”
  • Then hold down the Power button and the Volume Down button at the same time until the phone starts
  • Wait until text loads and then press the Volume down button to go to “Recovery”
  • Then press the top power button to go into the recovery mode

4. Do a backup (optional)

This is a lesson you must learn whenever you root your phone. Perform backups before flashing, so in case something goes wrong or you decide to revert back to a working version, it will be a less painful experience. I try to do a backup whenever I flash a new ROM. Themes may not require backups as frequently but I always perform a backup for ROM’s without exception.

  • Go to Nandroid and press the power button
  • Select “backup” and press the power button
  • Wait until the backup is complete and it will return to the Recovery screen

5. Wipe/factory reset (ROM only)

When switching from one ROM maker to another – say from Fresh to DamageControl – you’ll want to wipe data and clear cache to prevent problems from developing. You may not need to do this when going to a newer version – like Fresh 3.x1 to 3.x2 – so read the directions provided by the developer.

  • Press the volume down button to go to “Wipe data/factory reset” and wait until the phone says that the wipe is complete
  • Then go back to the recovery screen and go to “Wipe cache partition”
  • Once complete, navigate back to the recovery screen

6. Apply the update.

This is where you load the new theme or ROM.

  • Press the volume down button to go to “Install zip from sdcard” and then “choose zip from sd card”
  • Use volume up/down to find “THEME/” and press the Power button.
  • Wait until it completes and then go back to the recovery screen
  • Select “Reboot system now”

You should have a new theme or ROM now. In the event that you have problems, go back to the nandroid portion of the tutorial and choose “restore” rather than backup. That will restore the phone back to its previous state. Keep in mind that nandroid restore will remove all content (apps, call log, etc.) applied since the last state.

Try not to disturb the phone when rebooting. You may experience a boot loop in some instances in which the phone starts over and over again. This is rare but possible. If that happens, remove the battery, boot into recovery again, and wipe your cache and factory reset. If problems persist, make sure you installed a theme compatible with your phone or revert back to your nandroid backup.