Getting brighter colors in Windows 10


(Top = before, bottom = after)

Windows 10 allows you to customize the taskbar and start menu colors, but it provides only a limited set of predefined colors. In addition, no matter which color you’ll pick, the taskbar will end up being dark. I searched, but haven’t found a straightforward way to have a bright taskbar on Windows 10. Fortunately, I have discovered that there’s an undocumented registry key which makes explorer use an alternative color calculation algorithm, which in turn produces brighter colors. You can see the difference in the example image above.

I wrote a quick application, Windows 10 Color Control, which allows you to modify the Windows 10 colors, and to get this alternative color calculation algorithm. The original Windows 10 calculation algorithm is referred to as the “New auto-color accent algorithm”, according to the undocumented registry value name.

Download

zip Windows 10 color control.zip (112.8 kB)

Source code

https://github.com/RaMMicHaeL/Windows-10-Color-Control

Command line parameters

You can use -accent_color and -dwm_color to set the accent and/or DWM color and exit.
The colors must be specified as hex triplets.
For example, the command:

"Windows 10 color control.exe" -accent_color FF0000 -dwm_color 00FF00

will set the accent color to red, and the DWM color to green.

Technical details

The main registry value that is being created by Windows 10 Color Control is UseNewAutoColorAccentAlgorithm of type DWORD, which is being created with the value of zero in the following branch:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Accent

By default, the value doesn’t exist, and the setting is being treated as enabled, i.e. UseNewAutoColorAccentAlgorithm is true. By disabling this setting, we bring up the alternative color calculation algorithm. But usually that’s not enough, an extra step has to be done to disable that “New auto-color accent algorithm”. If you’re interested to know what is that step, let me know in the comments, and I might add an information about it here later on, if enough readers are interested.

Posted in Reverse Engineering by RaMMicHaeL at August 19th, 2015.
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120 Responses to “Getting brighter colors in Windows 10”

  1. Guru says:

    Thank you so much for this tool, being able to change the border colors makes such a major aesthetic difference in my Windows 10 interface. You are a legend and the kind of person that makes humans look good!

  2. Hoody says:

    HY

    I like using this little app, but for some reason the color I want/set doesn’t seem to hold, nor can I save it in the custom box’s. When I set the color, and click to add it to custom colors its there, after I close and reopen the program its all gone again. So if I reboot the color reverts back to what ever windows uses.

    I’ll re download it again and see if its the program.

    I have the latest W10 Pro x64 OS with all updates.

    • RaMMicHaeL says:

      Hi,

      the color I want/set doesn’t seem to hold

      Yes, the custom colors are not remembered – it’s not implemented.

      • Hoody says:

        OK, what about coding it to remember the main setting than? like hooked to the registry so the set colors stay set when rebooting or restarting after a shut down? As it is its good but you end up having to re set the colors you like all over every time you have to reboot.

        Like maybe having some setting to start the program added to startup.

        Are you still doing this little program? or is it as it is from now on?

        • RaMMicHaeL says:

          OK, what about coding it to remember the main setting than?

          It’s possible, but I don’t plan to implement it. The tool is open source, feel free to contribute.

          Like maybe having some setting to start the program added to startup.

          That’s possible to do manually. See the information about the supported command line parameters in the post above.

  3. Linus says:

    Thanks a lot for sharing the trick with

    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Accent]
    “UseNewAutoColorAccentAlgorithm”=dword:00000000

    How did you “discover” that???

    Anyway, this finally allows me to setup the color I really want for my windows title bars. (I don’t really mind that the task bar is slightly darker, because with “Classic Shell” I can override the taskbar color anyway.)

    However, I found that the background color of the “Signing out…” screen is still as if modified by the NewAutoColorAccentAlgorithm. Any ideas how to use the real color there?

    • RaMMicHaeL says:

      How did you “discover” that???

      By reverse engineering Windows Explorer.

      I found that the background color of the “Signing out…” screen is still as if modified by the NewAutoColorAccentAlgorithm.

      That makes sense, as explorer is no longer running. Also, the settings in HKEY_CURRENT_USER are user settings, and after signing out, user settings are not used.

      I’m not aware of a way to adjust the signing out screen behavior.

  4. Robert says:

    Hi,

    do you have also any idea how to change the terrible light blue colors in cursor/list rows, menus, parts of the window background etc.? It appears on various applications dependless on which “Windows” color is chosen, for example in Total Commander – the row above files list, Thunderbird – menu row, actual e-mail row in list…, Office 2003 – menu, selected cells in Excel etc. etc. – dependless of which theme do you chose (I’ve tried it on three PC’s). Or you have any other there?
    May be you (somebody) will know what is possible to do with it – I don’t believe that all other users are OK with this appearance! I can live with the same color on window border and on taskbar :-), but with this… Many thanks in advance for any ideas or tips.

  5. Cáno says:

    Hello,
    This utility is EXACTLY what i’ve been looking for. Well almost.

    I use AeroGlass for Windows 8.1+ and I can control DWM colour (called Glass colour there) as shown here:
    http://imgur.com/a/CW3AJ
    I can also control Active and Inactive accent colours:
    http://imgur.com/a/FQSKN
    In your program i have the following settings:
    http://imgur.com/a/RTKkF
    Note that Accent colour in your program is different to Accent colours in AeroGlass for Windows 8.1+. It only affects Start and Taskbar.

    The configuration from the screenshots results in having:
    Pink borders,
    Red Active window,
    Yellow Inactive window,
    Blue Taskbar and Start menu.

    The only colour that can be controlled by both programs is DWM (or Glass) colour.

    Now with these two programs I seem to be able to control all the colours but only your utility can be controlled with CLI.

    Would it be possible to extend your application to include these two Accent colours?

    • RaMMicHaeL says:

      Hi,

      As far as I understand, AeroGlass is quite different from Windows 10 Color Control – it’s supposed to be constantly running to have the desired effect. Am I right? In this case, there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for Windows 10 Color Control to be able to control the settings of AeroGlass – you should contact the author of AeroGlass and ask him/her instead.

  6. Rex says:

    So what is that additional step you mentioned in your article but didn’t publish? It would be nice to know how I can manually do this so I don’t have to download third party software on enterprise computers.

    • RaMMicHaeL says:

      The extra detail is that disabling the “New auto-color accent algorithm” doesn’t work if the color is one of the predefined colors. The tool is open source now, so you can see the workaround here.

  7. Ricardo says:

    Hi there,

    Not sure if it’s due to the creators update but the app is crashing for me. I opened up an issue at GitHub: https://github.com/RaMMicHaeL/Windows-10-Color-Control/issues/1

  8. Goulddigger says:

    Hey, RaMMicHaeL. I found a way to remove or config DWM border color using group policy without having to run command line at startup:

    For Windows 10 Pro users:
    Enter Group Policy, head to Administrative Templates –> Windows Components –> Desktop Window Manager –> Window Frame Coloring –> Specify a default color

    Then enable this option, set Alpha = 0. However UWP app borders don’t use Alpha option, you need to give a color similar to window drop shadow color. In my case, I use 230 230 230 for RGB.

    For Windows 10 Home users:

    Open Registry Editor.
    Go to the following Registry key:
    HKLM\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\DWM

    Set DefaultColorizationColorState to 1
    Set DefaultColorizationColorAlpha to 0
    Set DefaultColorizationColorRed to 230
    Set DefaultColorizationColorGreen to 230
    Set DefaultColorizationColorBlue to 230

  9. Doug says:

    Thanks for this; handy.

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