Windows Desktop Hero

Beginning with the October 2020 update, Windows 10 defaults to a light theme that prevents you from setting an accent color for your Start menu, taskbar, and action center. You may see the option grayed out in Settings. Here’s how to get the option back.

By default, you can’t set accent colors on the Start menu and taskbar in Windows 10 unless you have your appearance set to dark mode. If you’re in light mode and you visit “Colors” in Settings, you’ll see the “Start, taskbar, and action center” grayed out.

In Windows 10, the show accent color on "Start, taskbar, and action center" might be greyed out.

To fix it, we’ll need to change to dark mode first. Launch Settings by clicking your Start menu and selecting the small gear icon. You can press Windows+i on your keyboard to open the Settings window.

In Settings, click “Personalization.”

In “Personalization,” click “Colors” in the sidebar.

In “Colors” settings, click the “Choose your color” drop-down menu and select “Custom.”

In Windows Settings, under "Choose your color, " select "Custom."

When you select “Custom” from the “Choose your color” menu, two new options will appear below. Under “Choose your default Windows mode,” click the radio button beside “Dark.” This will allow you to set an accent color for your Start menu and taskbar.

(Since you chose “Custom” earlier, you can set “Choose your default app mode” to either “Light” or “Dark” depending on your personal preference.)

Under "Choose your default Winodws mode," select "Dark."

After that, scroll down the page until you see “Show accent color on the following surfaces.” Since you’re in dark mode, the “Start, taskbar, and action center” option will no longer be grayed out. If you’d like to use it, place a checkmark in the box beside it.

Place a check mark beside "Start, taskbar, and action menu."

Once that’s set, scroll back up on the “Colors” page, and you can pick any color you’d like for your accent. You can even place a check beside “Automatically pick an accent color from my background” and have the accent color match your desktop wallpaper.

In Window Settings, choose your accent color from the grid.

After that, close Settings. To test out your new color, open your Start menu, and it will match the accent color you selected.

A Windows 10 Start menu with an accent color added.

If you ever want to change colors again, just revisit Settings > Personalization > Colors and pick a different accent color from the grid. Or you can uncheck the “Start, taskbar, and action center” option to return to default colors. Have fun!

RELATED: How to Enable Windows 10's New Light Theme

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Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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