Q. In Windows 7, I can change the background color of apps such as Notepad by right-clicking the desktop and then selecting "Personalize/Windows Color/Advanced appearance settings." The resulting Windows Color and Appearance dialog box has a dropdown menu — "Item" — with 21 options.
If you choose Window, you can click the "Color1" dropdown box and pick from many colors. Is there something similar in Windows 10? Or do you know of a tweaking utility where all these options come back?
A. The feature you’re referring to is part of the Win7-specific Aero desktop (here's Microsoft explanation). I’m sorry to say it’s not available in any other Windows version — not in Vista, nor Win8, nor Win10.
Win10’s Personalization settings (Start/Settings/Personalization) let you adjust the colors of the start menu, start button, taskbar, and various other items — but not the background color of apps such as Notepad.
Not surprisingly, you’re far from alone in missing the Win7 Aero options. A number of sites have posted partial color/appearance hacks and shortcuts for Win10. None does exactly what you want, but they can help lessen that and other frustrations caused by Win10’s lack of Aero-style visual customizations.
For example, the free Winaero Tweaker (currently in beta) lets you restore a colored title bar to the active window — a visual feature inexplicably missing in Win10.
Here are some other visual tweaks, hacks, and shortcuts for Win10:
- "Window color and appearance removed in Win10?"
- "Change color of Start menu, taskbar, title bars, and Action Center in Windows 10"
- "How to change Windows 10 window colors and appearance"
But remember: Win10 is very new; other, better hacks and (perhaps) add-on appearance-tweaking utilities could well be on the way. Let’s hope one of them restores a complete set of Win7-style Aero settings to Win10.
(Originally published on Windows Secrets on Thursday, October 1, 2015.)
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