Change the icon and colour of Windows 8 tiles

The Start screen in Windows can be customised to a certain degree, but what about the tiles? Do you like the icon on them? Do you like the colours they use? Would you like a different icon and colour scheme? It is possible, although with limitations, but it is not obvious how you might do this.

Tiles on the Start screen are created from the applications or shortcuts to the applications you have installed. When a program is installed in Windows 8, the installer adds Start menu items as if it were running in Windows 7.

There are two locations on the disk drive that are used to store Windows 7 Start menu items and these are:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

C:\Users\Roland\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu

They are still there in Windows 8 and some of the items are used to create tiles on the Start screen. By changing the icon in the old Start menu folders we can change the tile on Windows 8 Start screen.

Open an Explorer window and click View at the top. Tick the box to show hidden items. Now you can navigate to each of those folders.

Show hidden files

Find a program that has a start tile. It will be in one of those two folders.

Start screen tiles

Right click the item and select Properties from the menu. I’m going to use VSDC Free Video Editor, so right clicking the file in the Start Menu folder and selecting Properties looks like this:

File properties

Notice that there is a Change Icon button. There are websites with thousands of icons such as Icon Archive. This was selected at random and there are many more you could use. The search box on the Icon Archive site enables you to find icons on any subject, so find one that looks like a good replacement for the default icon that is currently being used.

Each website is different, but with IconArchive you just mouse over an icon and the file formats are displayed in the top right corner. Right click ICO and select Save Link As, or Save Target As to save the icon to disk.

You can now click the Change Icon in the program’s Properties window, click the Browse button and select the icon file you downloaded to disk:

Change the icon

Click OK and OK again to close the two windows and then return to the Start screen. You’ll find that the Start tile has changed:

Start screen tiles

There are a couple of problems and one is that you won’t be able to find every tile in the Start Menu folders. They are mainly for traditional software and Start screen tiles like Photos, Weather and others are not there.

The other problem is that there doesn’t appear to be a way to set the background colour of the tile. If you try different icons you will find that different colours are displayed. So if you get a tile you don’t like, just try a different icon and see what tile colour you get.

This method isn’t perfect, but it does at least add some customisation to the Windows 8 Start screen tiles.


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