Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Changing Display Settings In Windows XP

In an upcoming article I needed to explain how to change the look of Windows XP. Unfortunately the steps to do this are among the most convoluted on the planet, though anyone who has been through the ritual a couple of times will know the drill. So I thought it best to create a separate article for the purpose. Read on, brave interface tweakers!

As an example, say we want to change two background colours, in order to make the window interface match some custom content we have designed. In particular, we want the "Menu" and "3D Objects" colours to each have an RGB value of (224, 226, 235). (By an astounding coincidence, this is precisely what I wish to do in the foobar article that references this one.)

Start by right-clicking on your desktop and selecting "Properties" from the context menu. This opens the Display Properties dialogue. Click the Appearance tab to get something that looks like this:

Appearance Tab

Now, click the Advanced button to open a second window. Note all the little windows against the red background. These are not "real" windows, but instead an example interface that shows the effects of our editing. In this demo area, click on the background of the menu bar, just to the right of the text that says "Selected". You will get this:

Advanced Dialogue

You can also do this by choosing "Menu" from the Item picklist, but it's easier to click on the example interface.

Colour PaletteNow, click on the "Color 1" block to get a dropdown palette. It's not terribly informative. Looking at blobs of colour does not help us know which we might want.

So instead, choose "Other" to reveal the famed Windows colour picker.

Colour Picker

Finally we are in a position to poke in our desired RGB values. Once you have done so, click "Add to Custom Colours" so that it shows up in the palette to the lower left. Careful examination will reveal that instead of white, this block now contains a light steel blue. Highlight this colour so the screen looks exactly as above. Then click "Ok" to return to the Advanced Appearance dialogue.

Now, do the same thing for the other interface element. This time, click the fake Ok button or choose "3D Objects" from the Item pulldown. The screen will look like this:

Advanced Dialogue

Go through the colour picker steps again, as before. When done, click "Ok" to close the Advanced Appearance dialogue. You will now find yourself back with a single dialogue. Now, the "Apply" button is active. Click it to see your changes. When happy click one final "Ok".

Geez! Could they make that any more annoying? Here's an interface I really hope they've improved in Windows Vista.


1 comment:

robin said...

I have noticed that blogger is not loading all of the images all of the time. How annoying! All you can do is try a refresh, or even a forced refresh (hold down the Shift key when you click the refresh button). Sorry about that.

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