The Windows 7 menu item highlight effect is quite subtle - on my machine, menu items go from light grey to having a light blue shading. This makes it quite hard to tell at a glance which exact menu item is highlighted at any one time. You can see an example (from Firefox) here:

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Is there an easy way to increase the contrast of the menu item highlight effect, without having to go all-out to an over the top high-contrast color scheme?

7 Answers 7


You're talking about the "hot tracking color", and it's annoying to me as well. For some reason, you cannot change it in Windows 7, and MS chose to make it a near undetectable color.


I am not certain, but I think that this is related to another answer a gave a couple of hours ago, over here.

If I am right, you need to open the shellstyle.dll theme file with XN Resource Editor and find the offending light blue .png graphic file and then replace it with one of your desired hue.


This can be changed using a registry hack.

From a command prompt type "regedit" In the registry editor window find the following key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Colors\HotTrackingColor

The color format is: RRR GGG BBB

The range of each field is 0-255.

Black: 0 0 0

Bright Red: 255 0 0

Bright Blue: 0 0 255

Gray: 128 128 128

White: 255 255 255

  • I think these parameters are taken into account only if the user is not using an Aero style. It may only work with "Windows Classic" theme.
    – Gauthier
    Mar 20, 2013 at 7:26
  • Right-click on the Desktop
  • Select "Personalize"
  • Click on "Windows Color"
  • Click on "Advanced appearance settings..."
  • In the Item drop-down list, choose "Selected Items"
  • Select a new color with the Color Picker (under "Color 1")

Note it doesn't work for Firefox, which apparently doesn't use this setting for the highlight color. Some programs use this setting, some do not unfortunately.

  • 1
    I already have that set to a dark blue. It only affects the selected menu, i.e. the actual menu bar. It doesn't affect selected items in the menu itself. Dec 12, 2009 at 2:33

I did a test, right clicked on anything that would cause such a menu. When using the mouse, you can use the mouse pointer to indicate which is selected. When using the keyboard, I closed my eyes and hold the down key for some time and opened my eyes after, each time I did I was able to tell the item at glance. If you focus your eye on the middle of the left column it isn't so hard to determine the selected item.

Are you sure your monitor settings and those from the driver's control panel are right?

  • Changing wrong monitor settings (brightness and contrast) is a good suggestion!
    – Gauthier
    Mar 20, 2013 at 7:27

I found that rather than "Selected Items", changing the color of 3D objects fixed my highlighting problems, while maintaining the Aero theme elsewhere.

  • 2
    Changing the color of 3D objects does not seem to affect the selected menu item...at least not for me.
    – firedfly
    Jul 11, 2010 at 21:03

It may be an all-out, but changing the theme to Windows Classic (right click on the desktop and select Personalize ) results in this in Firefox:

Enter image description here

On Windows 7 Starter (for netbooks) it is Start menu -> Control Panel -> Change colour scheme -> choose Windows Classic -> OK. Or just type scheme right after choosing the start menu and select Change colour scheme.

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