If you are using Windows 8 or if you have read about Windows 8, you might be aware of the new Start Screen and Charms Bar present in Windows 8. Microsoft has replaced the good old Start Menu with Start Screen in Windows 8 to provide Windows Phone style home screen. This new Start Screen shows live tiles of installed programs and various useful apps such as weather, news, etc.
Charms Bar is shown when you move the mouse cursor to top-right corner or bottom-right corner of screen. It can be also accessed by pressing Win+C keys together. It shows a sidebar style panel in right-side of screen containing some useful system shortcuts such as Search, Share, Devices, PC Settings, etc.
But as usual Microsoft didn't provide much options and settings to customize the interface of Start Screen and Charms Bar. Although Microsoft has provided a few built-in background images and color schemes to change Start Screen UI but those are very limited and users are not allowed to set their own wallpapers as background image of Start Screen. Also you can't set your own desired color scheme in Start Screen. You need to depend upon the available color schemes and backgrounds.
And Charms Bar is not customizable at all. You can't change its background color, you can't change its icons, you can't change its location, etc etc. In fact you can't even disable it if you don't need it. Although there are tricks to disable it but that's another story.
Although Microsoft didn't provide Start Screen customization ability to Windows 8 users but interested people can change Start Screen background images by modifying a system file imageres.dll present in "Windows\System32" folder using Resource Hacker. This file contains all the existing Start Screen background images. You can replace them with your own desired images. You'll need to take ownership of the file before modifying it.
If you don't want to modify any system file, here is an excellent software for you. The famous customization software company "Stardock" has released a new software which allows you to customize look-n-feel of Start Screen and Charms Bar in Windows 8.
"Decor8" is an ultimate Windows 8 Start Screen tweaking and customization utility which allows you to:
- Change background image of Start Screen
- Set your desired wallpaper as Start Screen background
- Randomize Start Screen background by selecting multiple images to create a slide show
- Customize Start Screen and tiles color scheme
- Change number of rows of tiles in Start Screen
- Disable or tweak automatic background image scrolling feature of Start Screen
- Customize Charms Bar background color scheme
Following is a preview of the new Start Screen look which you can get with the help of this software:
You just need to install the software and then run it. It'll show you the first screen where you can change background image of Start Screen. You can select from the given background images or you can add your own desired wallpaper using "Select folders" button. You can also set an image slide show as Start Screen background similar to built-in Desktop wallpaper slide show feature of Windows. You can also customize the slide show time interval and background image style.
"Colours" tab allows you to customize color scheme of Start Screen. You can change color of background, tiles color, accent color and text color.
"Options" tab allows you to change number of rows of tiles showing at Start Screen. You can increase or decrease number of rows in Start Screen using the given slider. This feature utilizes a built-in Registry tweak. If you want to do it manually, open Registry Editor (regedit.exe) and go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ImmersiveShell\Grid key and in right-side pane change the value of Layout_MaximumRowCount DWORD to your desired number such as 2, 3, 4, etc. Please keep in mind that number of rows depends upon your screen resolution.
Options tab also allows you to tweak or disable the new "Parallax Scrolling" feature of Start Screen which moves the Start Screen background image as soon as you scroll between tiles. You can turn automatic background image scrolling off by enabling "Stop parallax effect" option.
You can also apply the same color scheme of Start Screen to Charms Bar as shown in following screenshot:
So its a must have software for Windows 8 users who love customization. Currently Decor8 is under beta testing and can be downloaded for free but the final version will cost you $4.99 similar to Start8 utility from Stardock.
You can download it using following link:
Feel free to share your feedback about this software in your comment...
Thanks to gHacks for sharing it...
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