I have installed a fresh copy of Windows Server 2012 and when I go to Control Panel > Appearance > Display > Color and Appearance it states "This page is not available in this edition of Windows".

The version I installed is the latest from MSDN subscriber downloads and is listed under Computer Properties as "Windows Server 2012 Standard". I can change the desktop background color, but not the colors of the window borders. The only "schemes" available are "Windows Basic" and then 4 even uglier "High Contrast" schemes.

It's not a huge deal, but looking at the ugly baby blue window borders all the time is giving me a headache. Why would such a simple setting "not be available"?

8 Answers 8


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

  • After you have chosen a better color scheme, you can remove the feature and your settings will stick.
    – zacharydl
    Mar 11, 2013 at 5:15
  • This is also a requirement if you want to have system icons on your desktop. Wonder WTF were thinking in Microsoft when they packaged Windows features together...
    – Massimo
    Sep 14, 2014 at 14:27
  • Wrong. see romkyns answer.
    – joshudson
    Oct 22, 2015 at 16:44
  • @joshudson The answer is not wrong. Color schemes are a part of the Desktop Experience feature in Windows Server. If you don't want to install them, and would like to use the trick on the answer below, then feel free to do it. It still doesn't mean that my answer is wrong. Oh, and thanks for the downvote!
    – pauska
    Oct 26, 2015 at 19:59
  • @joshudson What exactly is "wrong"? Oct 26, 2015 at 20:00

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

  • 3
    +1 But reboot is not required, as you are just changing current user. Closing the remote desktop (without sign out), or sign out seems to be enough on Windows Server 2012 R2.
    – TN.
    May 2, 2016 at 8:25
  • ColorizationColorBalance is important as well. This changes to a huge number for new user profiles, making borders render as black. By setting it to 0x57 as in the screenshot, everything works again. Sep 22, 2017 at 7:56

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.


enter image description here


enter image description here

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.


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.

  • This did the job for me. Now I can differentiate between multiple fullscreen RDP sessions
    – Sergei
    Dec 14, 2016 at 9:25

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)

You need to install Desktop Experience . Just open your Powershell and execute these commands to install ::

  Import-Module ServerManager

  Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Mgmt-Infra

To install the Server Graphical Shell with Windows PowerShell, use the following commands:

  Import-Module ServerManager

  Install-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell

To install Desktop Experience with Windows PowerShell, use the following commands:

  Import-Module ServerManager

  Install-WindowsFeature Desktop-Experience

To install Media Foundation with Windows PowerShell, use the following commands:

  Import-Module ServerManager

  Install-WindowsFeature Server-Media-Foundation

To uninstall the Server Graphical Shell with Windows PowerShell, use the following commands:

  Import-Module ServerManager

  Uninstall-WindowsFeature Server-Gui-Shell

Thats it! After executing restart. You will find 'Personalize' after click on Desktop and you can also enable Audio. Cheers!!!!


in server 2012 R2 after installing desktop experience You can change colors of windows

enter image description here


It's a server. You actually already gave the answer yourself with this line:

"This page is not available in this edition of Windows"

Servers are ment for remote administration, so therefore it makes no sense to actually program those features into the core of the OS.

  • 1
    I don't disagree with you Frederik, but it's strange that it's been available for every other version of Windows Server so it's not really additional programming. I can't believe that there are any security implications in a color picker, and if they are going to remove it, why not stick with the standard grey color instead of picking a color that is so horrendous. Again, it's not a big issue, but sometimes the decisions of MS truly surprise me.
    – bigmac
    Sep 27, 2012 at 16:05
  • @bmccleary MS is definitely moving away from Server GUIs and this is one of the effects, themes are becoming a userspace feature added to client OSes by default (and servers as an add-on, see Pauska's answer). All code potentially adds vulnerabilities, especially in ways you couldn't imagine before it gets hacked. Removing as much code as possible removes those potential vectors as well. As for the choice of color, perhaps it was meant to encourage you to learn remote administration.
    – Chris S
    Sep 27, 2012 at 16:27
  • This is not correct at all. See my answer.
    – pauska
    Sep 27, 2012 at 16:28
  • 1
    "It's a server": obviously you don't use servers for development, but many others do, in which case it's a reasonable question.
    – GlennG
    Mar 9, 2013 at 23:30
  • 1
    I find it useful to change the colours on servers, so that I can see at a glance which remote connection is to which server. (Which is how I found this ServerFault page.)
    – andrewf
    Aug 17, 2015 at 12:27

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