Article ID: 310543 - View products that this article applies to.
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INTRODUCTION

In Windows XP, you can customize the appearance of your desktop by changing the font, size, and color of individual Windows elements such as menus, icons, and title bars. This article is intended for beginning to intermediate users.

You might find it easier to follow these steps if you print this article first.

More information

Select a desktop style

The desktop style that you select determines how Windows elements, such as the desktop, active title bar, and the scrollbar, look on your screen.

Note You must select a desktop style before you change fonts or colors. If you select a desktop style after you change fonts or colors, the fonts and colors for that desktop style override your selections.

You can change the general look of desktop items by selecting a desktop style from the Appearance tab in the Display Properties dialog box. Follow these steps to select a desktop style:
  1. Right-click an empty area of your desktop, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the Appearance tab, and then click the drop-down arrow under Windows and buttons to select your preferred style.
Note When you select a style, that style determines the default appearance of your menus, fonts, icons, and other Windows elements. However, you can change these defaults by using the Advanced settings on the Appearance tab.

Customize individual Windows elements by using Advanced settings

You can use the advanced settings to customize the font, size, or colors of individual Windows elements. Follow these steps to do this:

Step 1: Open the Advanced Appearance dialog box

To open the Advanced Appearance dialog box, follow these steps:
  1. Right-click an empty area of your desktop, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the Appearance tab, and then click Advanced.

Step 2: Customize the font, size, or color of individual Windows elements

From the Advanced Appearance window, you can customize the font, size, or colors of individual Window elements. To do this, follow these steps:
  1. In the Item list or in the preview window, click the Window element that you want to change. When you click the image of the item that you want to change in the preview window, the corresponding item is automatically selected from the drop-down list.

    Note If you select Window in the Item box, and then modify the font color for that item, the font color that is used in many other programs is also modified. Any documents that use the automatic font color are affected if you change this setting. Many programs, including WordPad and Microsoft Word, use the same default font color. Any new documents that you create in these programs use the new font color that you select for the Window item.
  2. Use any of following sections to customize Windows items to achieve the look that you want.

    Note Not all options for all Window elements are available. For example, the Font option appears to be dimmed and is unavailable for elements in the Item list that do not display text.

    To customize item size and color:
    1. In the Size box, specify the size that you want to use for the item.
    2. In the Color box, specify the color that you want to use for the item.
    To customize item fonts:
    1. Click the font that you want to use for the item.
    2. In the Size box, specify the font size.
    3. In the Color box, specify the color that you want.
    4. To apply a bold font, click B. To italicize the font, click I.
    As you modify items, you can preview their appearance in the preview window.

    Note You must use the same font, size and color for the Active Title Bar and Inactive Title Bar items. Any changes that you made to either item are applied to both items.
  3. When you are finished making changes, click OK two times to save your settings.
To use a different default font color in programs that use automatic as the default font color, you may be able to create a template that uses the font color that you want as the default font color, and then use that template instead of the default template. For information about how to do this, view the documentation that is included with the program, or contact the program manufacturer.

References

For additional information about how to use desktop themes, click the article numbers below to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
307855 HOW TO: Configure Desktop Themes in Windows XP
294309 How to Use the Windows Classic Theme in Windows XP
For additional information about how enable or disable Windows XP interface components, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
288186 How to Enable or Disable the New Windows XP Interface Components

Properties

Article ID: 310543 - Last Review: May 22, 2013 - Revision: 3.0
Applies to
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Keywords: 
kbinfo KB310543

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