Many Windows 10 users are extremely upset by the fact that Microsoft locked down the ability to have colored title bars for open windows. Due to this limitation, all windows including active and inactive ones, have white title bars. The user cannot easily tell if a window is active or not. The only subtle hint for an active window is that it has a drop shadow. If you are not happy with this ridiculous change, here is a solution.
The default theme used in Windows 10 is extremely problematic and poorly designed which is why the same color is shown for active and inactive window title bars and borders. Microsoft, in their eternal effort to take more choice away from the user, have locked down the theme. The Desktop Window Manager in Windows 10 ignores the colors set by the user and does not apply it to the title bars of windows. While you can bypass this restriction and get colored title bars, there is still no easy way to distinguish between active and inactive window title bars - this, I believe, is a fundamental violation of usability and taking control away from the user. The window borders also remain the same color. What is even worse is that the caption buttons for Minimize, Maximize and Close have also been intentionally dumbed down so they give no visual feedback to indicate an active window. Let's try to fix all this.
How to get different active and inactive window borders and red Close button in Windows 10
The trick is to activate the built-in Aero Lite theme which is bundled by default with Windows 10. Once you do this, working with windows in Microsoft's new OS becomes a lot easier. Follow these instructions:
- Activate the Aero Lite theme as described here:Enable the hidden Aero Lite theme in Windows 10
- Open the Settings app.
- Go to Personalization - Themes and click the link "Theme settings":
- Click the Aero Lite theme:
When Aero Lite theme is enabled, the Close button is colored red once again for an active window even if you don't hover over it and the title bar text is black. When a window becomes inactive, the red color goes away from the Close button and the title bar text and caption button symbols turn grey. Also, the window borders are darker for active windows and when the focus is lost and when the window becomes inactive, the window borders become pale.
Even the basic controls such as scroll bars and 3D buttons turn a slightly darker grey with the Aero Lite theme making them easier to see and they turn blue when you hover over them. The separation lines between tabs (property sheets) also become darker and taskbar buttons become easier to see thanks to improved color separation. The downside I see is that the title bar and taskbar text is no longer white but is black making it harder to read if you use darker colors. So I fixed it. If you download the theme file from the link below you will get the white text instead of black. This is an acceptable tradeoff for getting back the ability to differentiate between active and inactive windows.
You can download the ready-to-use Aero Lite theme from here: