How to Add Color to Inactive Title Bars in Windows 10

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By default, programs’ title bars in Windows 10 are white. You can change the color of the active program window, but what about the title bars on inactive windows? No worries. There’s an easy registry tweak to solve that.

Here’s what a normal background window looks like in Windows 10, with no color:

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When we’re done, it’ll look like the image at the top of this article, using the color of our choice.

This registry tweak only affects traditional desktop apps, not universal apps. There are also some desktop apps, such as Microsoft Office programs, that override this registry setting with their own settings.

Standard warning: Registry Editor is a powerful tool and misusing it can render your system unstable or even inoperable. This is a pretty simple hack and as long as you stick to the instructions, you shouldn’t have any problems. That said, if you’ve never worked with it before, consider reading about how to use the Registry Editor before you get started. And definitely back up the Registry (and your computer!) before making changes.

Before you begin, you need to turn on the “Show color on Start, taskbar, action center, and title bar” setting on the Personalize > Colors screen. This registry hack will not work unless that option is on. Then, open the Registry Editor by clicking on Start and typing regedit . Press Enter to open the Registry Editor, or click on regedit under Best Match.

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Give the Registry Editor permission to make changes to your PC by clicking “Yes” on the User Account Control dialog box. You may or may not not see this dialog box, depending on your User Account Control settings.

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In the tree structure on the left, navigate to the following key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\DWM

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In the right pane, right-click on any empty space and select “New” and then “DWORD (32-bit) Value” from the popup menu and submenu.

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A new value is added and the name is highlighted, ready for you to assign a name to the value.

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Enter AccentColorInactive as the name, then double-click the name to edit its value.

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On the Edit dialog box, enter a hexadecimal color code for a color you want to use on the title bars on the inactive windows shown in the background on the desktop. You can get these from programs like Photoshop or GIMP or from websites like HTML Color Picker or Color Hex Color Codes. For our example, we’re going to make the inactive windows a dark gray (hex color code: 666666) and the active window (which you can also change in the Registry Editor) black (hex color code: 111111), as shown in the image at the beginning of this article. You can choose any two colors you want, or make all the active and inactive title bars the same color.

The value of the hexadecimal (hex) color code is entered in the format BBGGRR. Normally a hex color code uses the RRGGBB format, but this DWORD value uses BBGGRR instead. For example, if you want to use the hex color code A7708C (A7=Red, 70=Green, 8C=Blue), you would enter it as 8C70A7 in the AccentColorInactive value.

Make sure “Hexadecimal” is selected under Base and then click “OK”.

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You can also change the color of the active window in the Registry Editor, although it’s easier to do this in the Windows settings. If you want to change the color of the title bar on the active window, double-click on the AccentColor value. If you don’t see the AccentColor value in the list on the right, create a new DWORD value just like you did for the AccentColorInactive value.

NOTE: The AccentColor value may not be there if you allow Windows to pick an accent color from the background. When you choose a specific color, the AccentColor value is created.

Enter the hex color code for the color you want to use on the title bars of active windows in the “Value data” box. Again, make sure “Hexadecimal” is selected under Base and click “OK”.

The colors of the title bars change immediately. Notice that the title bar of the Registry Editor turned gray while the Edit DWORD (32-bit) Value dialog box is active.

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Now the color of the title bar on the active window is black. To close the Registry Editor, select “Exit” from the “File” menu.

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Now, our active window has a black title bar and our inactive windows all have gray title bars.

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If you don’t feel like diving into the Registry yourself, we’ve created a couple of downloadable registry hacks you can use. One hack sets the title bars of inactive windows to gray and active windows to black. You can change the hex color codes in the .reg file by opening the file in a text editor like Notepad and changing the values pointed to in the image below. Change only the last six digits, not the first two. The other hack restores the title bars to their default settings. Both hacks are included in the following ZIP file. Double-click the one you want to use and click through the prompts. Remember, once you’ve applied the hacks you want, log out of your account and log back in or exit and then restart explorer.exe for the change take effect.

Inactive Window Color Title Bar Hack

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These hacks are really just the applicable keys, stripped down to the values we talked about in this article and then exported to a .REG file. If you enjoy fiddling with the Registry, it’s worth taking the time to learn how to make your own Registry hacks.

Lori Kaufman is a writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.