Windows 8.1 Window Borders are Annoying!

A member asks…

This is a rather minor issue, but I was trying to make the border (and all the various colors) on windows darker, but in Windows 8.1 I don’t see any color schemes that do that, and I can’t find any menu that gives the level of color control that came with earlier versions of Windows. I’m talking about the desktop, of course, and not the metro interface. I just find that light colors are distracting around videos, movies, etc. I ran into a web site: …that had all sorts of interesting desktops, but required downloading some patches. I’m not averse to doing that (it might even be fun) but I would like to know if there is any conventional way to get black or very dark window borders.

win7advappearanceWindows 7 did have a very detailed set of controls for managing the look of your desktop. Too many choices in my opinion, so very few people do much with them. This was the Advanced Appearance Settings in the Control Panel. It allows you to change a ton of options in the look and feel of most of the visual elements in the Windows 7 desktop. In Windows 7:

  1. Right-click the desktop, select Personalization
  2. Select Window Color and Appearance
  3. Select Advanced Appearance Settings

That level of control was taken out of Windows 8. However, if all you need to do is darken the border of windows, there is a simple control in the Control Panel’s Personalize window to darken the border of all windows on your desktop. This works exclusive of any theme you’ve applied (most of which have semi-transparent borders). Here’s how to use that:

  1. win81bordercolorRight-click the desktop, select Personalization
  2. Select Window Color and Appearance
  3. Click and hold the Brightness slider and drag it to the left.

Viola! Your window borders are all darker. They don’t go all the way to black – for that you’d have to choose a theme that’s intended for visually-impaired users and then adjust it using the controls at the bottom of the Personalize window.

Our friends at have some instructions (see method #2) for using the Registry Editor in Windows 8.1 to make more changes like the Advanced Appearance Settings window in Windows 7, but this is pretty complicated and potentially dangerous stuff – for advanced users who know their way around the Windows Registry and know things like the hex value for desired colors, etc. We don’t recommend you mess with the registry lightly.

And we’d advise against using any 3rd party themes that require changing your Windows installation. Just stick with the themes you can get from the Personalize menu (linked to the Microsoft website) – there are hundreds of themes you can try out, and you can mix and match theme elements to create a custom theme you like.

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One Comment

  1. Ed Roberts

    I appreciate the suggestions. Unfortunately the slide bar darkening didn’t really do enough (it’s the inactive window borders that bother me), so I tried playing around with the high-contrast themes. These do have many more settings, and I was able to get something that looked very good…except that those themes all removed color from the browsers! The killer was that I use iCalendar via iCloud on my PC and use color codes for different calendar entries. They all ended up stark black on white–you couldn’t even see the “edges” of the entries! Totally awful! After trying a bunch of things I gave up and reverted back to a normal them. I’ll probably give regedit a try at some point–after backing up the registry, of course!

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