[Tip] Customize Start Screen Tiles Background Color, Text Color and Logo in Windows 8.1 and Later

UPDATE: This method also works in Windows 10.

When Microsoft introduced Start Screen and tiles feature in Windows 8 operating system, all tiles had same background color based on Start Screen's background color. But with the release of Windows 8.1, Microsoft changed this behavior. Now each tile has different background color based on the associated program's icon. In other words, the tile pulls its background color from the associated program's icon color. So you get different background colors for different tiles.

But did you know you can change or customize tile's background color according to your requirements? Yes, you can change a lot of things to customize Start Screen tiles appearance in Windows 8.1 operating system.

That's why, today we are sharing this tutorial which will help you in changing and customizing Start Screen tiles look-n-feel in Windows 8.1. With the help of this tutorial, you'll be able to:

  • Change background color of any tile
  • Hide/show program labels or names on tiles
  • Change text color (program label color) of any desired tile
  • Change tile icon or apply a full image as tile logo

Following image shows both default and custom background colors of a tile:

Customize_Start_Screen_Tile_Appearance_Windows_8.png

So if you are ready to customize the appearance of tiles on Windows 8.1 Start Screen, check out following steps:

What We are Going to Do (In Short)

We are actually going to use a built-in method of using XML file with the extension ".VisualElementsManifest.xml" to change Start Screen tiles look-n-feel.

In simple words, we'll select the shortcut tile which we want to customize, then we'll go to the main folder containing the associated program's EXE file and then we'll create an XML file in the same folder. After this, we'll provide some basic information inside the XML file to define tile's background color, text color, logo, etc.

That's it. Once we do this, our desired tile will feature the new colors and logo as defined by the XML file.

Limitations of This Method

This method applies to only those tiles which contain shortcut to EXE files. You can't customize a tile appearance which is linked to any other filetype.

Also this method doesn't work for Mozilla Firefox web browser as Firefox registers itself as a "dual-mode" web browser and Windows handles web browsers differently. That's why even if you put a visualelementsmanifest.xml file inside Firefox folder, it gets ignored by Windows.

On the other hand, Google Chrome web browser doesn't register itself as dual-mode but it already ships with a predefined visualelementsmanifest.xml file.

Let's Start The Guide in Details

STEP 1:

First of all choose the desired tile which you want to customize and then right-click on the tile and select "Open file location" option.

Open_Windows_8_Start_Screen_Tile_Shortcut_File_Location.png

It'll open the "Start Menu\Programs" folder containing the associated program's shortcut (.lnk) file.

STEP 2:

Now again right-click on the program's shortcut file and select "Open file location" option. Now it'll open the main folder which contains that program's executable (.EXE) file.

Open_Shortcut_Main_Executable_File_Location.png

STEP 3:

Now we'll create the XML file inside this folder.

Right-click on empty area and select "New -> Text Document" option. It'll create a new .txt file in that folder. By default Windows doesn't show file extensions, so first disable "Hide extensions for known file types" option in Folder Options. If you don't know how to access Folder Options and change this option, check out STEP 3 given here.

Now you'll see "New Text Document.txt" file in that program's folder. Rename the file to the same name as the EXE file but the extension will be ".VisualElementsManifest.xml".

For example, in our screenshot we are customizing Notepad2 program's tile. So we'll name the XML file as Notepad2.visualelementsmanifest.xml as the EXE filename of Notepad2 is Notepad2.exe.

Visual_Elements_Manifest_XML_File.png

NOTE:

For your convenience, we are providing a ready-made XML file for download. Just download following ZIP file, extract it using 7-Zip or other file archive utility and you'll get Test.visualelementsmanifest.xml file:

Download Ready-Made XML File

You can rename the XML file to your desired EXE file name but keep the extension unchanged. If you use the ready-made XML file, skip the STEP 4 and jump to STEP 5.

STEP 4:

Now right-click on the XML file and select Edit option. It'll open the XML file in Notepad.

Now paste following code in XML file:

<Application xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
<VisualElements
BackgroundColor="#666666"
ShowNameOnSquare150x150Logo="on"
ForegroundText="light"/>
</Application>

And save the file.

STEP 5:

Now let's talk about the code mentioned above!

The "BackgroundColor" option will change the tile color. You can set it to any desired RGB hexadecimal value such as #000000, #FFFFFF, etc. You can also use some built-in color names as its value which are black, silver, gray, white, maroon, red, purple, fuchsia, green, lime, olive, yellow, navy, blue and teal.

Change_Background_Color_Start_Screen_Tile_Windows_8.png

You don't need to put hash (#) symbol if you are using a color name. But # symbol is required when RGB hexadecimal values are used.

Examples:

BackgroundColor="#F1F1F1"
BackgroundColor="purple"

The "ShowNameOnSquare150x150Logo" option is responsible to display or hide the program name on tile. You can either set it to on or off. If you set its value to on, it'll show program name on tile and if you set it to off, it'll hide the program name on tile.

Hide_Program_Name_Start_Screen_Tile_Windows_8.png

The "ForegroundText" option defines the text color on tile. You can either set it to light or dark according to your requirements.

Change_Text_Color_Start_Screen_Tile_Windows_8.png

STEP 6: (Optional)

Above mentioned three parameters are required to put in XML file. But there is another parameter which is optional and can be used to change tile icon/logo.

Change_Icon_Logo_Start_Screen_Tile_Windows_8.png

This parameter requires to create an image file which can be used as a new logo of the tile. The image file can be .png, .jpg, .jpeg or .gif. Its size must be less than or equal to 200 KB and its dimensions must be less than or equal to 1024x1024 pixels.

Once you create the image file, put it in the same program's EXE folder where you created .XML file. You can put it directly in that folder or create a sub-folder for it.

Now edit the XML file again and put following 2 lines before "/>":

Square150x150Logo="image_name_with_extension"
Square70x70Logo="image_name_with_extension"

For example, if your image name is Notepad2_logo.png, then use following code:

Square150x150Logo="Notepad2_logo.png"
Square70x70Logo="Notepad2_logo.png"

So the final code of XML file will look like following:

<Application xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">
<VisualElements
BackgroundColor="#666666"
ShowNameOnSquare150x150Logo="on"
ForegroundText="light"
Square150x150Logo="Notepad2_logo.png"
Square70x70Logo="Notepad2_logo.png"/>
</Application>

NOTE:

1. You can create 2 separate images for each size 150x150logo and 70x70logo. In the above example, we have used a single image for both logos.

2. The image will cover the whole tile as a logo. If you want to use it as an icon, you can create a transparent image containing your desired icon. This way only the icon will be shown on the tile.

3. If you decide to set custom logo for tile, you'll have to specify image for both Square150x150Logo as well as Square70x70Logo parameters. If you don't do this, the whole XML file will be ignored by Windows.

STEP 7: (Important)

Now the last but the most important part of this guide!

Although the method is complete but you'll not notice any change in tile appearance on Start Screen. It happens because of the tile cache.

UPDATE: Our reader "Fel Lima" suggested that we can reload the tile cache by just renaming the tile shortcut's name. If it doesn't work, then try following method:

You'll need to alter the last modified date attribute of the shortcut to update the tile appearance. It can be done in 2 ways:

  • Using Command Prompt
  • Using Power Shell

If you prefer to use Command Prompt, first go to the "Start Menu\Programs" folder containing the shortcut file as we did in STEP 1. Now press SHIFT key and right-click on empty area. You'll get "Open command window here" option, click on it. It'll open Command Prompt window. Now paste following code inside Command Prompt window and press Enter:

for %f in (*.*) do copy /b "%f" +,,

Clear_Windows_8_Start_Screen_Tile_Cache_Command_Prompt.png

If you want to use Power Shell, execute following command in Power Shell:

(ls "$env:programdata\microsoft\windows\start menu\programs\shortcut.lnk").lastwritetime = get-date
OR
(ls "$env:appdata\microsoft\windows\start menu\programs\shortcut.lnk").lastwritetime = get-date

Make sure to replace shortcut.lnk with the correct shortcut name. In our example, it'll be Notepad2.lnk.

Clear_Windows_8_Start_Screen_Tile_Cache_Power_Shell.png

While using Power Shell method, you'll need to remember one important thing! Windows stores some programs shortcuts in "ProgramData" folder and some in "AppData" folder. So first check the addressbar in "Start Menu\Programs" folder and if it contains AppData word, then use the command containing appdata word. If the addressbar contains ProgramData word, then use the command containing programdata word.

That's it. Once you execute the command, go to Start Screen and wait for a moment. Your desired tile will feature the new changes.

PS: Check out following exclusive video to watch the whole method live in action:

Thanks to David Rees for sharing the method with me...

Also Check:

How to Change Icons and Text Labels of Start Screen Tiles in Windows 8 / 8.1?





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Posted in: Windows 10, Windows 8 / 8.1


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Comments

  • Is there any software available to do the same?

  • Great tip VG!

  • VG

    ^^ Thanks.

    @Arup
    AFAIK, no. But if you use ready-made XML file, the method is very easy to follow.

  • I've been using this method instead of Oblytile for years. Nice method for creating modern tile of desktop application.

  • i am using windows 8.1 pro. but its fake os. i am using sony vaio laptop. in that driver and some features are not working. so i will update my laptop via windows update. there are failed to update. i want original os what can i do?

  • Tried this with CCleaner and it worked like a charm. No more need for OblyTile now that I have this.

  • I noticed that Foxit Reader already comes with a VisualEffectsManifest file when it is installed. So all I had to do was add the image.

  • Do someone know if there is a way to achieve something similar in windows 10?

  • I keep getting access is denied when I run the command prompt. I have tried it with various programs. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. Also, I noticed for office 2013 programs an xml file already exists but the background for those tiles on my start screen are still the same colour as the rest of them? Any help would be appreciated.

  • Am I right in assuming it doesn't work for 10? If so is there an alternative?

  • For windows 10 there are quite some paid alternatives like WinTileR which are very cheap and do the work ;)

  • This method works again in windows 10 10586!

  • Custom tile color? Custom tile fullsize icon\image?

    OMG! I dreamed about it for three years! And it works in Windows 10 (Threshold 2)!

    Thanks!

  • This doesn't work on my Win8.1 on Vaio laptop. Any tips?

  • Steven,

    In Windows 10 (Threshold 2) I had a problem with changing full image as tile logo. With the code example in this article for some reason it did not worked for me. Then I found EXCEL.VisualElementsManifest.xml file from Microsoft Office 2013, copied the code from it and it worked! Try it.

    Sorry for my English...))

  • Is there any way to keep use default background? It may change it's color within desktop background slideshow so I want to put only 150x150 and 70x70 icons without static background color. When I'm setting BackgroundColor to "none", "default", "transparent", "off", "", or deleting whole row then tile ignores the xml file and using default shortcut icon. Any ideas?

  • is it possible to set the hexacode such that it becomes transparent

  • The Step 7 can be replaced by just renaming the shortcut name(that one from Step 1), it reloads the tile cache every time you rename it.

  • Is there a way to increase default icon size on every tile in start menu?

  • @Swoy45: this worked for me.

    BackgroundColor="transparent"

    You must include the quotation marks.

  • Can I use this method to get a custom color created in Paint which is saved as a PNG into the options for my background color for Windows 10 or is there another way to do this?

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