change Windows colors in registry RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi

    Changing Windows colors in registry neither works here

    HKCU/Control Panel/Colors

    nor here

    HKCU/Control Panel/Desktop/Colors

    That means for example, that you can change the ActiveBorder color in the usual color dialog box: The registry value does not change in both of the above registry places.


    You can change the ActiveBorder color directly in the registry in both of the above registry places: The Windows ActiveBorder color does not change, even after a reboot.

    Obviously the color is saved in a different registry-path.

    Where exactly the Windows colors are saved in the registry, when you change them manually?


    Thursday, October 3, 2013 12:51 PM


All replies

  • Wednesday, October 9, 2013 6:37 AM
  • I would like to make changes to the colors as we used to do with Windows 7 and predecessors without having to enable a High Contras Theme.

    For example, if I choose a dark colored theme, the title fonts seem to disappear. Also, I would like to change the color of the inactive windows frame just because it always reverts to a very bright white, which actually hurt my eyes. I have never had to adjust the brightness/contrast on my monitors, and now I happen to do it almost all the time.

    If playing with the registry is not advisable (very understandable to keep your environment sane), then please give back the users the ability to customize as you did before. Removing useful features for sake of unified and modern look (tablets I mean) not all that great... that is why people jailbreak their iDevices... and that is why Windows was always so good!

    Thursday, June 26, 2014 2:19 PM
  • Microsoft took away our ability to customize your desktop to make it easier to use on purpose, presumably to make us dislike the desktop and make it more likely we'll migrate to something else (such as use of Metro/Modern, possibly on a portable device). 

    As much as you'd like to believe this is the same Microsoft that brought us Windows that "was always so good!" it's not.  There are clearly different forces driving it.

    There are ways, though they involve installation of software to "hook" things (basically, hacking) that you can bring back the ability to load desktop themes, and even to bring back Aero Glass to the Windows 8.1 desktop.

    More can be found here, for example:

    I have stopped short of replacing the theme, but have set up Aero Glass via a 3rd party tool.  In my case I missed the drop shadows around windows very much, and set out to find a way to bring them back.  Aero Glass for Windows 8.1 can be used to accomplish this.

    I agree that the loss of configurability is terrible, but this is kind of old news now - and you're not going to get many folks agreeing with you because it's not fashionable.  Configurability and utility are apparently not coming back.  Nor, apparently, are very many people embracing Windows 8 - which is a good thing; a lack of sales may well bring Microsoft back to the straight and narrow.



    Detailed how-to in my eBooks:  

    Configure The Windows 7 "To Work" Options
    Configure The Windows 8 "To Work" Options

    • Proposed as answer by CSmith5438 Friday, August 2, 2019 7:03 PM
    Thursday, June 26, 2014 3:37 PM
  • Hi,

    The colourization keys are stored here however the settings are very limited.


    The problem I have with the interface is that I can't set a specific colour without using the idiot-interface. I have a particular colour I need the windows to be so that I can continue taking screenshots for some technical documentation and want to maintain consistency.



    David Homer

    Thursday, August 14, 2014 7:05 PM
  • Windows7 was the last OS to feature full "Advanced Appearance" dialog. For Windows8, developers aggregated these controls, providing simplified interface with magnification and themes selection. Sadly, this deferred expert users from genuinely customizing system's appearance. I am unsure about current development stage, but there is hope that upcoming OS will have these Advanced Settings incorporated into *.themes files; allowing greater customization power than pre-Win7 and enabling users to create and share their own system Theme Packs (including backgrounds, screensavers, colors, metrics and their dynamics). If we are lucky, release of application and/or metro-app to facilitate creation, editing and management of Theme Packs should be in order too.


    At present (Windows10 TechPreview) we only have Control Panel page 'Display', providing multi-screen magnification control and some text formatting.


    To manually customize colors (and appearance) in Win8, Win8.1 & TechPreview, refer to article: Access Advanced Appearance Settings in Windows8 (METHOD 2)  Take advice from Niki and check author's TIP: better transplant settings from Win7.


    For color options see registry entries in:

           HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Colors
           HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\Colors

                              TechNet Library:    Descriptions of other relevant registry entries     Locating USER keys in registry

    >>> When finished, reload system for changes to take effect. <<<


    Have to agree with Noel: after Bill Gates left, Microsoft was pulled towards sales and monetization. (might be one of those things transcending Cause&Consequence-Relationship, though). Basic research of company's history would reveal some failed/suspended ideologically ambitious and technologically progressive projects from 20th century - wish they renew some of those. With general folks mass-entering digital sphere, last decade had a few good years for social media and googly entertainment; - for serious IT? -not so much. At the same time, Intel signed some dubious licenses with Apple, effectively preventing them from developing PC graphic drivers for PowerVR-sgx5 chips. What later on, combined with Metro resolution limitations and UAC enforcement, was very convenient for MS Surfaces' sales. Thankfully, now Bill Gates is back and Microsoft has "always so good" future goals, again.

    Be the first to get Windows 10 - might be the last OS you install!

    • Proposed as answer by Fakedeeps Tuesday, October 14, 2014 2:54 PM
    • Edited by Fakedeeps Tuesday, October 14, 2014 7:28 PM Formatting
    Tuesday, October 14, 2014 2:50 PM
  • Yes, this is the best way to help people... Reply with another question...

    Why would you like to modify windows when there is a very clever group of people deciding what is best for you on daily basis ?!?!?

    Niki Han, don't be an idiot!!! If you don't have an answer, just skip the topic...


    Sunday, February 26, 2017 7:52 PM
  • working on it
    Sunday, February 26, 2017 8:45 PM
  • Windows 95 was the best OS ever created, all the valuable look and feel of every version since and it ran on 4MB RAM and 20MB HD.  All the bells and whistles since add little value and what we have lost was of more value. Linux fans have to admit that they have been copying the W95 look and feel since 1995.  W95 was completely customizable and Microsoft encouraged it.

    Every version of Windows since has become less customizable until, with Windows 10, you have virtually no customization at all except to choose one color and Microsoft does all the rest for you.  Now we have white-on-white scroll bars, disappearing scroll bars even though, for many years, Microsoft, correctly, preached to disable not remove functionality based on context. Microsoft has forgotten all that they once knew about usability in favor of trying to make your desktop operate like a phone - and now give up on the phone but your desktop still has to behave like one.

    You are absolutey rightm, Satman1w.  Microsoft has it's "experts" deciding what's best for us as though we can't think for ourselves.  Sounds like they are the computer "government".

    Tuesday, October 3, 2017 8:08 PM
  • Even the moderators here are anti change
    Tuesday, November 28, 2017 6:31 PM
  • Of course by now we've all moved on to Windows 10, 11, 12, etc. and have moved even farther from the great customization of Windows 95/98.  But I keep hoping that since Microsoft has dropped out of the mobile operating system space they will quit trying to make our 24-inch dual 4K desktop monitors look like a 5-inch phone.  It would be nice.
    Tuesday, November 28, 2017 6:43 PM
  • Haha... Niki Han gets to mark his own post as the correct answer.  Why would you want to do something.  The problem is not Microsoft, Niki answers and credits himself, the problem is Microsoft customers want something Microsoft doesn't want them to have.  I am a free market person and Microsoft can do what they want but to imply the problem is the customer when Microsoft removes functionality that was once there, is just nuts.
    Tuesday, November 28, 2017 6:51 PM
  • Haha... Niki Han gets to mark his own post as the correct answer.  Why would you want to do something.  The problem is not Microsoft, Niki answers and credits himself, the problem is Microsoft customers want something Microsoft doesn't want them to have.  I am a free market person and Microsoft can do what they want but to imply the problem is the customer when Microsoft removes functionality that was once there, is just nuts.

    LOL so true!!!

    I like to change the COLOR because Windows 10 makes WHITE, whiter than WHITE!!! and having Notepad or any application open is just way too bright and I am not one to keep adjusting the Brightness of the screen!!! That's just plain idiotic.

    Before the last update OS version where Control Panel option was  present on right context menu on Start Button, the Color change in registry worked!!!  To bad there isn't a vote option to bring it back... if there is, point it out, I will sign!!!

    Monday, December 18, 2017 2:51 AM
  • I did successfully changed the ''selected text'' colors in 

           HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Colors
           HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\Colors

    But when locked the pc and login again the colors are now different, it is pretty odd since the registry remains exactly how I configured it. (Win10 1809)

    Thursday, December 6, 2018 11:15 PM
  • I've found the solution(at least for myself):

    1. Export the registry entries you deem plausible into two files:

      HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Colors -> file1
      HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\Colors -> file2

    2. Now turn on the High contrast mode(with your selected color set), reopen Regedit and import the two files.

    3. Sign out/Reboot - All colors should now match the desired ones.

    3. Save the theme.

    • Edited by I Z I Wednesday, February 20, 2019 7:47 PM
    • Proposed as answer by I Z I Thursday, February 21, 2019 8:53 AM
    Wednesday, February 20, 2019 12:32 PM
  • I have the exact same issue. I tried using Task Scheduler to apply the registry on unlock, but that doesn't work. And as you said, the registry remains the same but the color reverts! Even on 1809. I also tried to deny the SYSTEM access, but that didn't work either. There must be some secret configuration file that Windows loads when unlocking the computer.
    Thursday, August 29, 2019 1:13 AM