In Windows 7 and Windows XP it was very easy to change the default background color of all windows to whatever you want. Staring at white window backgrounds all day is hard on the eyes. Once changed, ALL windows of all apps would conform to the custom color as long as the apps allowed the windows bg to be invoked. So for example it worked great in Notepad and many other apps.

Then the geniuses at M$ decided that this feature was no longer needed in Windows 8, and removed it. There were some reg hacks, but nothing standard. I remember reading that the feature would be coming back in Windows 10, but I'm not finding this to be the case. The only [partial/broken] way I have found to be able to do this is to tweak the following registry keys:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Colors]
"Window"="227 221 191"

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\Colors]
"Window"="227 221 191"

When I changed those keys to my chosen soothing color and rebooted, it worked ONE TIME. After every reboot thereafter, all the white backgrounds are back AND YET those registry keys still have my custom RGB codes. I really hate Microsoft right now, but that aside, is there any solid way to change windows 10 bg colors and make it stick?

Important: In Settings -> Personalization -> Colors, none of that changes windows backgrounds. Already tried.

I am using Windows 10 Enterprise Version 1511 Build 10586.3.

UPDATE: I rebooted again and the bg colors work correctly...but later in the day all the window bgcolors were back to white again. Windows 8.1 had the exact same bug. My conclusion is that the reg hack "works" but only intermittently. Is this simply a MS bug? Or is there a better answer/solution?

  • What build of Windows 10 are you using specifically? – Ramhound Nov 19 '15 at 17:05
  • I am using Windows 10 Enterprise Version 1511 Build 10586.3. – HerrimanCoder Nov 19 '15 at 17:12
  • Check out the link below it might help you out tenforums.com/tutorials/… – user522970 Nov 19 '15 at 17:21
  • Note: I rebooted again and the bg colors work correctly this time. I have little confidence that it will stick, including after new reboots. But here's hoping. – HerrimanCoder Nov 19 '15 at 17:46
  • If you don't want to twiddle with the registry yourself, then try "Winaero Tweaker". Any changes it makes, stick. As a bonus, it has many other useful tweaks. – Rohit Gupta Nov 20 '15 at 0:53
up vote 11 down vote accepted

Apologies for the late answer. It had completely skipped my mind.

I haven't tested this solution thoroughly but it seems to do the job. You'll need to switch to a High Contrast theme for this to work. After you apply the theme, Windows should look like this:

Windows 10 High Contrast Black Theme

Context Menus and Metro UI apps are also affected:

Windows Notepad High Contrast Black Context Menu Windows 10 Settings App High Contrast Metro UI

If you use Google Chrome for web browsing, it'll prompt you to install the High Contrast extension after you apply the High Contrast theme so you can also browse the web in high contrast. You can also use the extension without enabling High Contrast mode.

As @Unsigned mentioned earlier, enabling High Contrast may change the look of several UI elements.

If you still want to enable High Contrast mode, you can copy the following into Notepad and save it as a .theme file and double-click on it to apply it.

[Theme]
DisplayName=High Contrast Black

[Control Panel\Colors]
Background=0 0 0
Window=0 0 0
Menu=0 0 0
InfoWindow=0 0 0
WindowFrame=0 0 0
AppWorkspace=0 0 0
ButtonFace=0 0 0
ButtonHilight=0 0 0
ButtonLight=0 0 0
HilightText=255 255 255
Titletext=255 255 255
WindowText=255 255 255
ButtonText=255 255 255

[Control Panel\Desktop]
TileWallpaper=0
WallpaperStyle=10

[VisualStyles]
Path=%SystemRoot%\resources\themes\Aero\AeroLite.msstyles
ColorStyle=NormalColor
Size=NormalSize
HighContrast=1

[MasterThemeSelector]
MTSM=DABJDKT

I'm not sure if every one of those entries is necessary, so feel free to experiment. I found some information on the color section here, if it helps.

EDIT:
If you do not want to enable High Contrast mode and only need to change the background window color from white to something else, you can use this theme instead:

[Theme]
DisplayName=Beige

[Control Panel\Colors]
Window=227 221 191

[Control Panel\Desktop]
TileWallpaper=0
WallpaperStyle=10

[VisualStyles]
Path=%SystemRoot%\resources\themes\Aero\AeroLite.msstyles
ColorStyle=NormalColor
Size=NormalSize

[MasterThemeSelector]
MTSM=DABJDKT

Just copy that to into Notepad and save it as beige.theme and double click on the file to apply the theme. Windows should look like this after you apply it:

Windows beige window background

You do not have to enable High Contrast mode or save the theme file to a particular location for it to work. Make sure that %SystemRoot%\resources\themes\Aero\ contains a file named AeroLite.msstyles.

  • 2
    Vinayak, will this high-contrast theme allow me to change the background color to something other than black? I don't want black, and in fact it's not really a high-contrast theme that I want. I want a background color that is somewhat beige, and all font colors just windows default, etc. – HerrimanCoder May 21 '16 at 17:21
  • @SweatCoder Something like this? – Vinayak May 21 '16 at 19:07
  • 2
    I finally got this all working, thanks to your answer, but I want to add a critical element. The BEST/EASIEST way to change windows bgcolor is to find an existing theme you like (downloaded from MS or whatever) and edit that theme. Most the time it will NOT contain the [Control Panel\Colors] section, so you need to add that somewhere in the theme. Save it. Double-click it. Done. Vinayak's answer was very helpful, but when I installed his posted (raw) theme above, it screwed up many colors and caused problems (no worries Vinayak, easy to fix). Just edit existing, add section, install. Perfect! – HerrimanCoder Jun 8 '16 at 13:04
  • 2
    Also: Here's how to edit a theme pack: Theme packs (.themepack extension) such as the ones you can download from MS are actually CAB files which can be cracked open with winzip or similar. Inside you'll find a .theme file along with usually other files. All you care about is the .theme file. Extract it and edit in notepad. Add the [Control Panel\Colors] - Window=227 221 191 (SEE ABOVE EXAMPLE). Change DisplayName setting at top. Save. Double-click. Your theme will be installed and you'll have the bgcolor of your choice. THANKS Vinayak for pointing me in the right direction. – HerrimanCoder Jun 8 '16 at 13:09
  • 3
    <Rant>Hey M$, why the heck did you make it so bloody difficult to change the windows background color? This required months on this thread, along with expert comments and experimentation. It would have been so EASY for you to expose a color editor or theme editor to pick the colors you want for all aspects of windows. In windows 7 and xp you could do this and you took it away.</Rant> – HerrimanCoder Jun 8 '16 at 13:11

I change it via going through this blog and this one.

  1. First, open a File Explorer window and navigate to C:\Windows\Resources\Themes.  Select the “aero” folder, press Ctrl+C to copy it, and then immediately press Ctrl+V to paste it and make a copy of it.  Click “Continue” to the UAC prompt.  Select “Do this for all current items” and click “Skip” when you see the File Access Denied window.

  2. You’ll get a folder named “aero - Copy”. Rename it to “color”. (It doesn’t have to be “color”, but we’ll be using color throughout here — you just need to use a consistent name.)

  3. Go into your new folder.  You’ll see a file named “aero.msstyles”.  Rename it to “color.msstyles”.  Click “Continue” when you see the UAC prompt.

  4. Next, open the “en-US” folder and you’ll see an “aero.msstyles.mui” file.  Rename it to “color.msstyles.mui”.  When you see the UAC prompt, click Continue.

    The “en-US” folder may have a different name if you’re using a different language edition of Windows.

  5. Go back to the main Themes folder and you’ll see a file named “aero.theme”.  Select it and copy it by pressing Ctrl+C.  Switch over to your desktop and press Ctrl+V to paste a copy of the file there.  Rename the new “aero.theme” file to “color.theme”.

  6. Right-click the “color.theme” file, point to “Open With”, select “Choose another app”, and open it with Notepad.

  7. Scroll down in the file and locate the line under [VisualStyles] reading

        Path=%ResourceDir%\Themes\Aero\Aero.msstyles
    

    Replace it with

        Path=%ResourceDir%\Themes\color\color.msstyles
    

    Save your changes and close Notepad afterwards.

  8. Select the “color.theme” file and press Ctrl+X to cut it.  Go back to the C:\Windows\Resources\Themes folder and press Ctrl+V to paste it here.  Agree to the UAC prompt when you’re done.  You now have a theme that can use colored window title bars.

  9. Activate the Theme —  Double-click the “color.theme” file to activate your new theme. Windows will switch to the “color.theme” file and your window titlebars will immediately become colored.

  10. Pick a Custom Color —  As on Windows 8, Windows automatically chooses an “accent color” from your desktop background by default.  But you can set your own custom color.

  11. Right-click the desktop and select “Personalize”, or open the Settings app and select “Personalization” to find these options.  Pick the “Colors” category.  Disable the “Automatically pick an accent color from my background” option and you’ll see a list of different colors you can use.

  12. This list is still a bit limited compared to the Color and Appearance options in Windows 8.1, which allowed you to select any color you liked. This desktop control panel has been completely hidden in Windows 10.  However, you can still access it — for now.

  13. To access this hidden control panel, press Windows Key+R to open the Run dialog. Copy-and-paste the following line into the Run dialog and run the command:

        rundll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL desk.cpl,Advanced,@Advanced
    

    The “Show color mixer” option here will let you pick any color you want for your window title bars.

  • 2
    Please quote the essential parts of the answer from the reference link(s), as the answer can become invalid if the linked page(s) change. – DavidPostill May 2 '16 at 10:39
  • @DavidPostill I have edited and added the blog's suggestion in it. – User008 May 3 '16 at 3:13
  • Nice edit, much better ;) – DavidPostill May 3 '16 at 8:25
  • @SweatCoder I think I could help you with that. I'll write up an answer later today. – Vinayak May 9 '16 at 9:09
  • 2
    @RaunakMaskay your post applies to windows title bars, not windows background colors (as in the big white area where all the typing is done) – HerrimanCoder May 19 '16 at 13:53

High Contrast themes allow you to change the default window background, as well as default text/selection colors, system-wide.

The downside is that High Contrast-type themes also change the appearance of various UI elements, as well as disable certain customization options (such as lock screen spotlight images.)

You can do a registry edit as described here: Window Color and Appearance removed in Win10? to change the background color in Windows 10

You can do it using the GreyEveTheme FINAL- Windows 10 High Contrast Theme . It's a customised high contrast theme. To customized it, just change the color value (it's just a normal text file, pretty intuitive).

ps: Many thanks to it's creator.

Edit: I just discovered the "night light settings" it's very interesting.

protected by Community Jan 30 '16 at 3:41

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