Does your Windows 8 system look too bland with the default settings? You can customize it in a variety of ways, changing a variety of backgrounds and colors — whether on the Start screen, lock screen, or desktop. Your Windows 8 system can be a subdued interface with dark colors and muted backgrounds, a tableau of bright colors and colorful flowers, or anything in between.
Microsoft has omitted some customization settings – most notably for the Start screen – but there are third-party tools that can give us access to these settings. Just as with the missing Start menu, third-party utilities give us the options Microsoft didn’t.
Change The Start Screen Background & Colors
Windows 8’s start screen is customizable. If you don’t like the default Windows 8 background and colors, you can change them to something more to your liking. Just open the Settings charm (use the Ctrl+I shortcut to quickly open the Settings charm) and select Change PC settings. In the PC settings screen that appears, select the Personalize category, select Start screen, and choose a background image and color.
Windows 8 includes a number of different Start screen backgrounds and color schemes that can be mixed and matched – you can have everything from a solid-colored dark background to a bight pink background with flowers.
Set a Custom Start Screen Background & Colors
While customizing your Start screen, you’ll notice that you can’t select a custom background or color scheme. You can only select the ones Microsoft included. Luckily, some third party tools have come to the rescue. However, bear in mind that they only work on Windows 8, not Windows RT (which can’t run non-Microsoft desktop applications).
The slickest, easiest utility to use is probably Stardock’s Decor8, from the same Stardock that created the popular Start8 start menu replacement for Windows 8. It’s free for 30 days, after which it will cost you $5 – just like Start8.
Decor8 allows you to set custom background images and color schemes for your Start screen, breaking free from Microsoft’s limitations and tweaking it to your liking. You can even have the background automatically change and customize other parts of the Start screen, such as the number of rows of tiles and styles of animations.
If you’re looking for a free alternative, you might want to try something like, although it’s still in beta and isn’t as well tested – it may not be as polished and stable.
Change The Lock Screen Background
Windows 8’s lock screen appears when you start your computer, log out, or lock it. Unlike the start screen, the lock screen’s background image is completely customizable out-of-the-box.
From the same Personalize pane in the PC settings application above, select Lock screen and select a custom background image. You can use one of the preinstalled ones or click the Browse button and select your own background image. You can also customize the applications that show quick status alerts on the lock screen – particularly useful for Windows 8 tablets.
Customize Desktop Window Border Colors
By default, Windows 8 automatically chooses a solid window border and taskbar color based on the color of your desktop wallpaper. However, you can also choose a custom color that will be used instead..
To choose a window border color, right-click your desktop and select Personalize. Click the Color option at the bottom of the Personalization window and select your preferred color. You can tweak a selected color’s intensity to get it just how you like it.
As with Windows 7, you can also choose a custom desktop background – even set up a slideshow of desktop backgrounds – from the Personalization window.
Set Custom Desktop Window Border Colors
If you want to set a window border color that isn’t mentioned in this list, try Aero8Tuner. It allows you to select any color for your window borders, even ones that Microsoft didn’t provide in the list of colors you can choose.
How have you customized Windows 8’s interface to your liking? Leave a comment and share your favorite tips and tricks.