I'm on Windows 7. I have a problem with my desktop background - I use the Community Showcase: Natural Landscapes 2 theme. Very nice it is too.

However, the shape of the images on my 4:3 second monitor leaves black bars above and below the image (TIL these black bars are called "mattes"), like so:


Windows 7 allows transparency on window borders (as well as the Start Menu and Taskbar). I like this feature, so I've enabled it. However, when I'm using (for example) Excel on my second monitor, the black bars combined with the windows border transparency makes it tricky to read the filename (especially given I use a privacy screen).

hard to read

What I'd like to do is change my desktop background colour from black to something a bit lighter so there's more contrast between filename text and background.

What I've tried

I could turn transparency off, but that would also turn it off on the taskbar and start menu. I like the transparency, so would like to avoid this. Neither changing the colour tone of the transparent effect, or increasing the intensity of the transparency colour makes a difference.

I've tried searching for tips on how to change the desktop settings in Windows 7 but they all want to tell me how to change the background image, not the actual desktop canvas colour.

In the days of Windows XP and earlier, I'd go into Display Properties and just set the background colour. In Windows 7 this option seems to have gone.

Any ideas?


After trawling through control panel for quite a while, I finally stumbled on the answer - my old friend Display Properties from XP hasn't been completely retired after all. It's just been well hidden. To find it:

  1. Right-click the desktop and select Personalize
  2. At the bottom of the screen, select Window Color
  3. Click Advanced appearance settings...
  4. Change Desktop Color 1

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Changing to an intermediate grey seems to do the trick - I can now read filenames in Excel.

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And the background on its own doesn't look too terrible (although obviously not as good as black).

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