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Change the Windows 7 Taskbar Color With No Extra Software (Stupid Geek Tricks)

Sure, you can hack Windows and install a custom theme if you really wanted to, or pay for a software package to do it for you. What you might not know is that you can use a silly trick to change the color of the taskbar with no added software—without changing your window color.

What we’ll be doing to perform this awesome trick is changing the color of the wallpaper image… the Taskbar is translucent, right? That’s exactly what makes this trick work. We’ll also quickly walk through the Windows way of doing it, for the beginners in the crowd.

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Beginner Method: Change Aero Colors Across the Board

Windows 7 actually makes it fairly easy to change the colors of the window borders, start menu, and the taskbar… and while that’s not exactly what we’re talking about, we’ll quickly show the beginners how to do it. Right-click on the background and choose Personalize from the menu…

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Then at the bottom of the window, choose the Window Color link.

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And then you can change the color of the windows, which will also slightly change the color of the taskbar. If you really want the color to change, you uncheck the option for transparency, though it will ruin the whole Aero translucent awesomeness factor.

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Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on to the fun part…

The Geeky and Fun Method of Changing the Taskbar Color

The secret to changing the taskbar color is to change the desktop wallpaper and add a colored stripe at the bottom right in back of where the taskbar is. For this exercise, we’re going to illustrate with the freeware Paint.Net application, but you could do the same with any image editor.

Before we begin, make absolutely certain that your wallpaper is the same dimensions as your desktop. This won’t work very well otherwise.

The easiest way to put a stripe at the bottom of the image is to use the Canvas Size feature to chop off the bottom of the image, and then add it back. You could mess around with the rectangle selection tool if you really wanted to, but most of the time this will end up being quicker.

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The Windows 7 taskbar is 48 pixels high in the default mode, though it might be larger depending on which options you have set—you could always take a screenshot and check for yourself.

Subtract that 48 pixels from the height of the wallpaper, and make sure that the Anchor is set to the Top and in the middle, as the mouse pointer in the screenshot below should show.

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Now simply use the Canvas Size tool again, and set it back to the original size—my desktop is 1920×1200, so this wallpaper is going to work out perfectly for me.

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At this point you’ll see a white stripe across the bottom of the image, which is perfect for the paint bucket tool. Choose a color, and drop it on there.

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For illustration purposes, we’ll use a horribly green color, and then save the image—if you are using Paint.Net, make sure to choose a new filename, because it defaults to the same one!

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Now go and assign that image as your wallpaper… you’ll see the taskbar has completely changed.

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This also works especially well when you have a light-colored background as your wallpaper, and you want a very dark taskbar without making everything dark.

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And thus we have learned the very stupid geek trick behind changing the Taskbar color. Enjoy!

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/6/10

Comments (22)

  1. Doc

    Um, the stripe at the bottom of the wallpaper will only work (right) if you don’t have the taskbar set to auto-hide (it will slide away from the stripe, leaving a weird-looking wallpaper unless it is seamlessly merged into the wallpaper itself). Why people hardly ever set their taskbar to autohide is beyond me; it’s been available since Windows 95 4.0.0.0 (which I’ve used, BTW).

  2. Phylis Sophical

    Is there any way to do this in XP?

  3. netbox

    @ Phylis Sophical:

    There’s now way you can do that in XP, since XP wont support transparent taskbar,
    unless your using viglance or similar app to make your taksbar transparent in XP..

  4. rp

    This is really a cool trick…….

  5. eddy

    for bar win xp ?

  6. BigGunn

    pretty neat… the default taskbar size on my system was 28 pixels

  7. BigGunn

    Also where did you get the awesome planet wallpaper?

  8. chad

    I want the Mario wallpaper, 1680×1050. kthx!

  9. Mike-RaWare

    @Doc

    I can imagine two reasons why most people don’t hide their taskbars:

    1) They don’t know it’s possible (most likely);
    2) They don’t want to wait before the icons appear in they don’t know what’s exactly on the task bar.

  10. Asian Angel

    @BigGunn – That wallpaper can be downloaded as part of a zipped file set here (download link at top of article):

    http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/10070/desktop-fun-starscape-theme-wallpapers/

  11. darryl

    Here’s another reason not to hide the taskbar – I use the Quick Launch toolbar a lot, for music, browser, email, My Computer, frequently used websites, utilities, and so on. If the taskbar is hidden, it just takes that much longer to access what I want.

  12. lokostyle

    where i can find that wallpaper of mario ? thankz!

  13. BigGunn

    @Asian Angel – Awesome! Thanks! :)

  14. dodo

    @darryl

    Yes, but if you are in Vista/7 you can always use the shortcut (WinKey) + (Shortcut’s Number)
    – e.g. you want to open your 3rd program in your quick launch list – press (WinKey) + ( 3 )

    I don’t use auto-hide because I find knowing which applications are running and seeing the clock is useful.

  15. Alex

    dual monitor fail

  16. Cameochi

    Interesting but I think I’ll stick with WindowBlinds from Stardock. You can change everything with a click of the mouse.

  17. josinchu

    thank a lots ขอบตุณครับ

  18. new geek

    I have Windows 7 starter 32bit which came pre installed on my netbook when I right click it does not show personalize. Any Help?

  19. Crimson

    @new geek

    Win7 Starter does not support changing the background, that’s one of the limitations of that version. It would not support the Aero interface either (Translucent windows).

  20. Demonkunga

    I’d assume this won’t change the “color” for your taskbar if you have your taskbar in a different place on your screen.
    I guess I’ll just do it manually then.

  21. TacoWacko

    So where can i get that mario wallpaper?

  22. dontlook4love

    Hi i was wondering, why does my toshiba no longer let me use this function, its changed to like old style menu and everything, and when i go to personalize it, the transparrent color task bar, and display themes are blocked, how do i unblock it, i had it before why dont i now????????????
    i even went on troubleshooting Aero effects, and it didnt help!
    plz help!

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