Sometimes it’s the big changes in a new OS that really grind your gears. Other times, it’s something as simple as finding the background color to be an eyesore. Let’s take a look at how you can easily change the background/accent color in Windows 8.

Dear How-To Geek,

It’s ridiculous, but I can’t tell you how much the default purple color in Windows 8 really bothers me. It’s so loud it hurts my face. I want something simple and mute in intensity, like a nice mild gray.

Now, before you assume I didn’t even attempt to remedy the problem on my own, I did! I’ve looked in every freaking menu I can find and it’s like the setting doesn’t even exist. I even searched with Google and found multiple articles, including one you guys wrote about changing the Windows 8 start screen and it’s like the setting that was there is now gone. I can’t find a single stupid box, check mark, radio button, or anything to even begin the process. What gives? Where did the freaking setting go?

I’m running Windows 8.1, no additional updates or custom interface tools/modifications. Help!

Purple Hatin’

First, we commend you on doing some old fashioned search engine leg work to get to the bottom of your problem. Second, rest easy knowing that even though you’re failing to find the setting you’re looking for, it’s not because it’s right in front of your face. The crux of your problem is that between Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, Microsoft moved the location of the menu you’re looking for (and to an obscure location at that).

RELATED: How to Get Rid of the Modern Environment on a Windows 8 PC

In Windows 8, you navigate to the menu you’re looking for via the Charms bar (WIN+C) then Change PC Settings -> Personalize -> Start Screen, and select the background accent combination you want from the slider interface at the bottom of the Start Screen customization panel. That’s the technique outlined in our article you referenced and most likely outlined in all the search results you were finding.

Annoyingly, that menu got shifted around and practically buried during the Windows 8.1 update (we’d suspect that shift was/is part of Microsoft’s movement to distance Windows 8 from their very poorly received Modern UI). Now to change things you have to find the menu via the search function. You can jump to the search function by pressing WIN+C to pull up the Charms menu and then clicking on the search icon or, for even speedier access, you can simply press WIN+W to jump right to the search box:

In the search box, type “accent” to pull up the “Change the background and colors on Start” menu. Even if you use Windows 8.1 entirely in desktop mode, you still need to use this menu to change the color of the popup notifications (like the kind you get when inserting removable media) and the color of the lock screen. In this well-hidden sub-section of the Personalize menu, you can now independently mix and match the background color and accent color:

For reference, the background color will be the background color of your Modern interface, as well as the background color of primary Windows 8 Modern-related interfaces such as the background of any sub-menus in the Charms interface. The accent color will be the new color of the Windows 8 Start button, interface buttons, and highlighted options within interface menus. Change both to the shade of gray you’re looking for and your problem is solved.

Have a pressing tech question? Shoot us an email at and we’ll do our best to answer it.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »