How to Change the Color of the Windows XP Start Button

Tina Sieber 02-02-2010

how to change the color of the windows xp start buttonFor those of you using Windows XP and getting tired of the green start button, listen up! Here is a straight forward article showing you how to change the color of the Windows XP start button for free.


The XP start button consists of three layers: a bitmap file, a start text, and a hover text.

Thanks to this circumstance you can simply change the color of the underlying bitmap image layer.

Disclaimer: MakeUseOf is not responsible for any damage caused by making changes to your Windows system files. Please follow the instructions at your own risk.

xp start buttonThis hack describes how to change the color of the windows xp start button from the “Default (blue)” and “Olive Green” sub-designs of the “Windows XP Style” to a color of your liking. The same procedure can also be used to change other elements and designs.

First of all, you will need to download and run a tool called Resource Hacker. It will show you the contents of the file that we’re going to edit.


Before you start, I recommend to make a backup of any files that you are going to change. To make a backup, open your Windows system root folder, typically found under C:\Windows. Alternatively you can go to > Start > Run, type %systemroot% in the field, and click OK. Within the folder, go to > Resources > Themes > Luna. You can also go there directly by tying %systemroot%/Resources/Themes/Luna in the Run dialog box. Make a backup copy of the file “luna.msstyles”.

how to change the color of the windows xp start button

Now run Resource Hacker and open “luna.msstyles” and expand the following folders: > Bitmap > BLUE_STARTBUTTON_BMP. Here, you see the dreaded green color background image that is going to be changed.

Save the bitmap image to your desktop through > Action > “Save [Bitmap: BLUE_STARTUPBUTTON_BMP: 1033] …” and leave Resource Hacker open.


how to change the color of the windows xp start button

Open the saved bitmap image in a program such as Photoshop or Paint and work on the colors until you’re happy. Don’t change the original dimensions of the image and save it as bitmap (.bmp file). For this demonstration, I simply inverted the colors.

Once you have a new image, go back to Resource Hacker, click > Action, > “Replace Bitmap …”, and a window will open. In the top left click on > “Open file with new bitmap …”, select the .bmp file you edited, and click > Replace in the bottom right.

how to change the color of the windows xp start button


Don’t forget to save your changes in Resource Hacker, then close the program.

xp start button color
To see your changes, you must either reboot or change back and forth between two Windows styles. Right-click onto your desktop, select > Properties, go to > Appearance and switch the sub designs. To the left, you see my admittedly ugly result.

As mentioned previously, this hack describes changing the start button color for the “Default (blue)” and “Olive Green” designs. To change the button for the Silver design, edit and replace the bitmap image for METALLIC within the Bitmap folder of the luna.msstyles file.

If you would like to change other elements of the XP start button, for example the text, check out Will’s article WinHack – How to Change the Windows Start Button (Win XP) WinHack - How to Change the Windows Start Button (Win XP) Read More .


What is your favorite Windows hack?

Image credits: gradient

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  1. Steven
    February 8, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Hey thank you so much for the info on how to change my xp start colors and the zune theme is awsome i tried to change my theme last night with a site that i downloaded something to change the theme and it almost messed up my computer it asked me for the windows disk lucky me i had one right there but thanks and if there is more i can change please let me know

  2. Mike
    February 2, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Your final result image has some green on the right side of the button. Someone needs to learn about transparency.

    • Tina
      February 3, 2010 at 12:38 am

      Hi Mike,
      as I wrote in the article, this was just a demonstration and so I simply inverted the colors of the image, i.e. not bothering about the transparent bits.

  3. DeLarge
    February 2, 2010 at 10:49 am

    The Zune theme is quite nice, and is just a download.


  4. JK III
    February 2, 2010 at 9:10 am

    I like these kind of hacks; not much useful, but definitely fun.