How to change color scheme in Windows Server 2012

Solution 1:

You'll need to enable the "Desktop Experience" feature to get the desktop parts (color schemes, 3d graphics, windows media player etc). We do this on our terminal servers. You might have to force users into using a defined style - this can be done via the local group policy or in a regular domain based GPO.

Below screenshot comes from here.

Desktop Experience

Solution 2:

In case you don't want to install "Desktop Experience", you can change the color scheme with registry entries in


You cannot modify specific colors there, but change overall scheme like the windows GUI allows you to do.

After changing the registry entries, a reboot is required. A sign-out or closing the remote desktop seems to be enough like TN points out. The keys of interest are:

  • ColorizationColor
  • ColorizationAfterglow (not sure about this one)

Colors are set in HEX-format including alpha channel. The initial (blue) value is 0xc055c9ed where c0 is for alpha.

For example, change the color (leave the alpha channel alone) to 0xc0eac754 (orange), and after a reboot you'll see the following color scheme:

Orange Color Scheme on Windows Server 2012 R2

Solution 3:

If you don't want to install the Desktop Experience feature (and you should think twice about it, as it also installs a bunch of apps), there is another option that's a bit limited but might work: the High Contrast color schemes.

You see, the colors of the Basic scheme are actually customizable, but the controls to do so are only visible if you select one of the high-contrast color schemes.


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Unfortunately, in their infinite wisdom, Microsofties don't allow you to customize all of the colors, so this approach definitely involves some trade-offs. In particular, the taskbar color is not directly customizable. But I still seem to prefer a tweaked high contrast scheme to the default, without the risks of installing Windows Media Player and AVI codecs on my servers.

Solution 4:

I have searched the Web for a simple utility and found, Aero 8 Tuner.

It seemed to have one simple function, to customise the colour. I tried to download it but the page said the program was superseded by Winaero Tweaker, so I downloaded it instead.

It did not have any installer so I could just click to run it. It showed an exception dialogue about the absence of Windows SAT, but I could just ignore it by clicking continue.

I navigated to Appearance -> Sync Metro/Aero Color, and then clicked Change both colors at once. And voilà, the awful colour was gone instantly, without the need of installing thousands of the Desktop Experience components and system restart. And I can do it again, if I come to hate the colour in the future.

Solution 5:

Colors can be changed via PowerShell without installing Desktop Experience or messing around manually with regedit.exe. For example I chose the following three color schemes for my servers:

# Own virtual machine, do whatever you want
Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKCU:\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM" -Name "ColorizationColor" -Value 8041239
# Internal test server, other users' work might be blocked if you screw up
Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKCU:\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM" -Name "ColorizationColor" -Value 16372771
# Production server, lives are at stake!
Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKCU:\Software\Microsoft\Windows\DWM" -Name "ColorizationColor" -Value 13043720

Colors have to be set as integers. You can convert RGB hex color value to integer using PowerShell:

[Convert]::ToInt32("ff0000", 16)