Windows 10

UPDATE:  As of the November 2015, “Threshhold 2” update, the below theme no longer works (Microsoft has intentionally disabled it while they make changes to the theme system).  They did, however, through the normal themes settings, allow for the title bar color to be changed natively via the Personalization -> Colors menu)

I recently decided to upgrade my laptop to Windows 10 with a clean installation.  Things went great, with only a few very minor hardware/driver issues which I covered in Part 1.  With everything running great, it was time to start customizing the default look a bit.

I’m using a traditional non-touchscreen laptop.  During the day, it’s docked in a dual monitor configuration with two large displays and in the evenings only the built in 14″ screen is used.  The first thing that really jumped out at me with the new theming of Windows 10 is the jarring look of the title bars.  Here is one of the more jarring examples:

Windows 10 Default Title Bar

The default white Windows 10 title bar shown in Command Prompt

The white and the black really collide.  This is one of the more extreme examples, but even in other applications, such as Chrome, it just looks weird having that much of a bright color on the top of every window.

Windows 10 Default Title Bar

The default white Windows 10 title bar shown with Chrome

Looking in the Personalization / Themes section of Settings, you’ll notice there is no built in way to change the color of the title bars, just the “accent color” on them.  Well, that’s annoying.  After doing a little research, I found that what is supposed to happen is that application developers are supposed to specify the color of the title bar on a per application basis, and if they don’t specify it, then it defaults to white.  Since Windows 10 is pretty new, almost everything defaults to white.  Yuck.  I did, however, find one example of a title bar done correctly in a program called Garmin Express.

Windows 10 Title Bar Done Correctly

Ok, so what can be done as a workaround until applications start setting their title bars to something other than white?  Well, a little research brought me to an article written by Daniel Rubino of Windows Central with a perfect workaround.  They’ve developed a custom theme which, once installed and activated, allows for the title bar to use the “accent color” for the entire title bar instead of just the accents.  The installation is pretty simple, which I’ve mirrored here in case the windowscentral.com page should ever go down:

  1. Download the custom theme zip file.
  2. Unzip the contents of the file into C:\Windows\Resources\Themes
  3. Double-click on the colored.theme file and it will install and switch to the new theme.
  4. Go to Settings -> Personalization -> Colors and choose an accent color in the top color picker.  This accent color will be the color for your title bars (as well as other minor accents).
  5. Customize other aspects of the theme to your heart’s content.
Windows 10 Themed Title Bar

The colored Windows 10 title bar shown with Chrome

One minor quirk with this theme, which I’m not sure if it’s a theme issue or a Windows issue.  When a window is not the focus, Windows colors the title text of those windows with a gray background.  A bit strange, but a minor nuisance at most.

Colored Windows 10 Title Bar

Highlighted title bar text in an out of focus window with the colored title bar theme installed