Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Years ago I became aware of a couple of settings that were purported to allow you to customize the colors of the Blue Screen of Death. Supposedly, by adding the MessageBackColor and MessageTextColor values to SYSTEM.INI, you could get XP to use different colors when your computer crashes catastrophically. Of course I tried it, but it never worked.

This comes as no surprise to me since it clearly states that the values apply to Windows 3.1 in the relavent Knowledge Base article. Nevertheless, there exist many pages on the Internet that specifically say that these values can be used to customize the colors of the BSOD of XP.

(I really don’t feel like attempting to dig out my Windows 3.* floppies or Windows 95 CD, installing them, adding the values, and pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete to test it.)

Does anyone know about the values? Can anyone confirm that it works in Win3.1 (3.0?), or 95, or XP (or even higher)? Does anyone know for sure if all the pages are incorrect in claiming that it works for XP?

(I considered asking Raymon Chen, but his question queue is already too full.)

This is the entry that I have personally tried without success (maybe the format—eg capitalization, hex format, etc.—is an issue?):

share|improve this question

Changing System.Ini settings works from Windows for Workgroups (Earliest I tested) down to Windows XP/2003.

For later systems, It is far too much to type up here, but the best article I read on this subject was by the Windows Wizard, Mark Russinovich.

Here is the article:

Hope you find this helpful!

share|improve this answer
You can only change the colour of a BSOD when your drive is the one that BSODs, you can't change it arbitrarily. – May 8 '11 at 1:42
@Wil, yes, I’ve seen Mark’s article, but it has nothing to do with this. @taspeotis, what do you mean? What “drive”? – Synetech May 8 '11 at 2:07
I meant to say driver – May 8 '11 at 3:13
@Synetech inc - it was just for extra information to give you more background if you were interested! – William Hilsum May 8 '11 at 6:58
Thanks guys, but neither the answer, nor the comment have anything to do with the question at hand. – Synetech May 9 '11 at 3:10

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.