This is a relatively new problem, so probably introduced with a recent Windows Update: The window border of the Windows 10 File Explorer is not visible when it is the active window.

Here is a screenshot of one File Explorer window laid over top of another. The only way to tell where the top window ends is by looking at what is blocked in the background window. And if the background window contents are all white it's impossible to see that.

enter image description here

How do I get the File Explorer to have a visible border when it is the active window?

  • My File Explorer shows Title and Border. Windows 11 plain, color light, Windows dark. Everything then works together,
    – anon
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 21:14

4 Answers 4


Checking the "Show accent color on title bars and window borders" is another option.

enter image description here

  • 2
    This option actually works for my Windows Server 2019 boxes. Commented Sep 1, 2023 at 16:11

This appears to have been part of a tweak to Windows 10 UI settings to reduce CPU load on this one computer I was using. Checking the Show shadows under windows option in Windows System Properties >> Advanced >> Performance Options >> Visual Effects restores the window border outline.

enter image description here

  • 1
    This is not working on my Windows 2019 server. "Show shadows under windows" is checked but the windows still blend into each other, at least in an RDP connection. i.imgur.com/wGkCwUf.png Commented Sep 1, 2023 at 16:06
  • Actually this does help. I don't understand people downvoting the question or the answer.
    – Feng Jiang
    Commented Sep 23, 2023 at 0:37
  • 3
    @RossPresser I found you have to uncheck and recheck the box (so that the radio button at the top changes to Custom) and hit Apply and it works. I've just done it now, also in an RDP session.
    – Midavalo
    Commented Nov 8, 2023 at 14:52
  • Oh my! I had the exact same problem where the solution wasn't working but unchecking, apply changes, checking, apply changes and it works! Thanks.
    – Samuel
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 15:34
  • I have tried all suggestions that I know of, but while WinAreoTweaker helps to provide a border of my choosing for inactive windows,yet using a dark theme (custom color) the active window border blends in with the window. I would rather have it to be light green. And I have "show shadows under windows checked. i.postimg.cc/rwFfRjfp/W-11-Border-2.jpg i.postimg.cc/G2QChH4T/W-11-Borders.jpg XP was better in this regard. Commented Mar 12 at 15:19

The other answers are correct, but IMO were not detailed well enough for a regular user to figure out. So, here's a full description of how you can add a drop shadow around the windows:

  1. Go to the Start Menu
  2. Type Control panel and open it
  3. Select System and Security
  4. Select System
  5. On the left side, select Advanced system settings
  6. Click the Advanced tab in the window that opens
  7. In the Performance box, click the Settings... box
  8. In the new window that opens, click the Custom radio button
  9. In the list below that, click the Show shadows under windows

On my soapbox: It's a shame that Microsoft has such immense disdain for its users and can't hire UI/UX designers, but yea, 9 complicated steps to make the UI usable for my elder father (and me, honestly). Just a lovely company!

  • Or in W/11: Windows key+Pause/Break key>Advanced system settings>Settings>Visual effects.. Or Windows key+i key>System>About>Advanced system settings>Settings>Visual effects. Not that this nor suggested hacks helped me trying to make the border of active windows distinguishable when using a dark theme. Commented Mar 12 at 14:30

In Windows Server 2022, you can go to Control Panel -> System -> About -> Advanced Settings. The System Properties dialogue will appear. Go to the Advanced tab, and under Performance click the Settings button. In the Visual Effects tab, select "Adjust for best appearance".

That will check all boxes and for some reason that makes the window borders visible.

Adjust for best appearance

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