Windows 8: How to change Metro background on x64

The new Windows 8 Developer preview offers the first official look at Windows 8 for the general public. This early build was designed to give a high level look at the new Metro UI and because of that, omitted some simple features like the ability to change the background.

Neowin has already covered how to revert back to the standard start menu, but if you want to be able to change the background, the tutorial is posted below. We should not that this is for x64 builds of Windows 8 only, the x86 tutorial is still being developed.

The process for the tutorial got kicked off in our forums where Panda X began digging around to determine how to properly change the background. You can download the entire tutorial from DeviantArt.com

Tutorial: How to get started with customizing the Metro Start Screen | Panda X

1. Download a hex editor. I chose HxD (http://mh-nexus.de/en/hxd/)
2. Navigate to C:\Windows\System32\
3. In the Ribbon click File > Open Command Prompt > Open Command Promt as Administrator
4. Type the following in CMD;
 takeown /f uxtheme.dll
 icacls uxtheme.dll /grant Administrators:F
5. Copy uxtheme.dll to the deskop.
6. Open your hex editor and open uxtheme.dll
7. Go to the hex location as shown in 'Metro Customization - Hex Table.txt' by hitting Ctrl+G (Might be different in your program)
8. Make sure your hex editor is set to OVERWRITE and NOT insert.
9. Replace the colors as shown in 'Metro Customization - Hex Table.txt' with your own. The format is Red, Green, Blue, Alpha (RGBA). For a solid/opaque image leave the last byte as FF (example: FF0000FF would be solid red)
10. Save.
11. In system32 rename uxtheme.dll to uxtheme.dll.old
12. Place copy the uxtheme.dll from your desktop to system32.
13. Reboot.

The tutorial contains the text above, images and the all important HEX table. It should be noted that changing the background is not a straight forward process and users should proceed with caution.

Download: x64 Tutorial

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36 Comments

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Hope when the final comes out we don't have to go to all this trouble just to change the wallpaper. The most basic and fundamental customisation technique...


1. Download a hex editor. I chose HxD (http://mh-nexus.de/en/hxd/)
2. Navigate to C:\Windows\System32\
3. In the Ribbon click File > Open Command Prompt > Open Command Promt as Administrator
4. Type the following in CMD;
takeown /f uxtheme.dll
icacls uxtheme.dll /grant Administrators:F
5. Copy uxtheme.dll to the deskop.
6. Open your hex editor and open uxtheme.dll
7. Go to the hex location as shown in 'Metro Customization - Hex Table.txt' by hitting Ctrl+G (Might be different in your program)
8. Make sure your hex editor is set to OVERWRITE and NOT insert.
9. Replace the colors as shown in 'Metro Customization - Hex Table.txt' with your own. The format is Red, Green, Blue, Alpha (RGBA). For a solid/opaque image leave the last byte as FF (example: FF0000FF would be solid red)
10. Save.
11. In system32 rename uxtheme.dll to uxtheme.dll.old
12. Place copy the uxtheme.dll from your desktop to system32.
13. Reboot.

Geez, Windows 8 is like Linux: inefficient and overly complicated to do mundane tasks.

PlogCF said,

Geez, Windows 8 is like Linux: inefficient and overly complicated to do mundane tasks.

That's not true and you know it.

rfirth said,

That's not true and you know it.

+1, anybody and everybody who read the article knows it will be a simple option in later builds...it's simply not part of the Windows Developer Preview...even the original Building Windows video shows it off in purple instead of this green...its there just not an option as of this time in development.

PlogCF said,

Geez, Windows 8 Developer Preview is like Linux: inefficient and overly complicated to do mundane tasks.

Fixed.

PlogCF said,

Geez, Windows 8 is like Linux: inefficient and overly complicated to do mundane tasks.

It was always complicated to do unsupported stuff.

PlogCF said,

Geez, Windows 8 is like Linux: inefficient and overly complicated to do mundane tasks.

Try to keep using for a little bit longer; hopefully MS will add the ability to close open apps and some other tricks.
I have been asking for years a change in the Windows UI but when I first started using this Build I have been tempted to format and revert to W7 right away; I kept using it and now I am slowly getting acquainted to.
Again it needs refinements and probably we will not see a perfect UI until W9, like what happened with the Ribbon in Office: good in 2007, much better in 2010, but the more you use it the more you like it.... or at least you might..... :-)

I never quite understood this kind of hacking...how do you know what to edit? And how is it even possible to modify these resources without it having an error pointing to the resource being modified and now corrupted...?

Sionic Ion said,
I never quite understood this kind of hacking...how do you know what to edit? And how is it even possible to modify these resources without it having an error pointing to the resource being modified and now corrupted...?

It helps when MS puts everything in one .dll file for you.

looks like the color info for the 32 bit is in a different memory location. my best guess is 0x34F70 or 0x3501C. I replaced shsxs.dll with a different one using resource hacker and it worked quite nicely (32-bit) just have photoshop to resize the image to match that of the original resource.

ctrl_alt_delete said,
Microsoft already said that they will make the background image changeable.

but nice hack though

Yeah, but in the meantime we can have some fun

ctrl_alt_delete said,
Microsoft already said that they will make the background image changeable.

but nice hack though

I like to see what else you can change, like, maybe the way the tiles look as well. Glass tiles with a background image would be very good imo.

For the first listing in the file, the hex is different on mine. At offset 0x96F30-0x96F33, it is 0E6D38FF and not 066A30FF. Am I doing something wrong?

winlonghorn said,
For the first listing in the file, the hex is different on mine. At offset 0x96F30-0x96F33, it is 0E6D38FF and not 066A30FF. Am I doing something wrong?

No, I just wrote down the wrong value. Sorry about that, I've updated it now.

x-byte said,
The final version will most likely have an option for this.

The final version had better be able to replace that with an image, etc. I'm not running this monstrosity on an HD monitor, even just for fun, looking like this. 8)

And yes, I know it's really just for phones and tablets, but I'm looking toward the future...

excalpius said,

And yes, I know it's really just for phones and tablets, but I'm looking toward the future...

Why do people keep making this assumption?

Who says that a sleek tile UI is 'just for phones and tablets'?

Media Center was designed for TVs, yet people use it on their PCs all the time (and ya, the UI comes from the same design method)

To relegate the Metro UI functionality outside the traditional desktop/laptop is foolish. This is a myth that is somehow gaining ground, that Microsoft has tried to quell since Win8 was first demoed earlier this year.

Just because the UI is different DOES NOT mean it is less functional and DOES NOT mean it has no place or viability on a traditional desktop with just a mouse and keyboard.

We use all types of UI constructs already that are similar to the Metro UI and the Apps that will be available for the Metro UI. We use desktop gadgets, news readers, and various types of one trick applications all the time.

Why not have our calendar, and our inbox, and our weather, and our notifications and our readers and our news available on a simple and quick glance screen?

Sure it is a simple interface, but simple can hide unused complexity too.

If nothing else, think of the Metro UI as a quick glance of our lives, that we can 'dig' down into as we want more complexity.

This is a natural extension of concepts Microsoft has been trying to bring to the computing world for years now, although it hasn't always been easily received or understood. Look at Win95 and the 'universal' inbox concept, it was to present all your information from web page updates to emails to faxes to messages to voice messages to calendar entries in one place. It was barely used by 3rd parties, as they didn't 'get' the general concept, and instead always wanted to create their own application or UI, instead of taking advantage of one place information box.

Even Web Desktop/Active Desktop back in Windows 98, was to allow users to yank widgets and news articles and bits from the web and have them all displayed on the desktop, which again was hardly used, and instead the concept of 'gadgets' by 3rd parties became more popular, even though they required special coding and ate RAM and resources.

Now we have a 'desktop' interface that gives us a 'quick and easy' access to things important to us. The Metro UI in the Developer preview is so far from what it will be in the final version, as the 'magic' happens when the live tiles of applications start happening, and you have can see and access all the information it can present on a quick screen.

Sure it works well on tablets and phones, but it also works great on a desktop with just a keyboard and mouse.

A simple UI merged with a complex UI is what people have been begging for, and now that Microsoft is offering it, people are assuming the 'simple' is for one type of computer, which is wrong, just wrong.

Think of an older relative, they will love Metro on their PC, and use it with a keyboard and mouse.

We really need to break the myth that Metro is a 'tablet/phone' UI metaphor, and try to get more people to understand it truly is for everyone, and works great on a desktop too.

Metro's UI concepts are something that Microsoft Research started working with and testing back in the 1990s, and over the years have spent a lot of money on finding the 'easy' UI concepts that anyone can just pick up and use. It has been tried and tested in various applications over the years, from Streets 98, to Windows Media Center, to the XBox and Zune. WP7 is where it started to gain traction, as the concepts evolved a bit more, from just typography and flow to live tiles and quick information at a glance.

Exactly! This UI works great on a desktop/laptop! They should make a few changes to it to resurface functionality that has been buried by the new UI currently, but that won't take much at all to do. For instance, the shutdown functionality can be fixed by putting the lock screen power button functionality in the lower right corner of the start screen too. Another option is to simply add the options to the user tile. I had shown my neighbors a couple of screenshots of the UI last month and told them that it would be what they saw when logging into Windows 8 if they upgraded to it when it is released. They hated the idea to be honest! However, I let them use it last night and their opinion is quite different! They love it! Don't knock it until you try it!

winlonghorn said,
Exactly! This UI works great on a desktop/laptop! They should make a few changes to it to resurface functionality that has been buried by the new UI currently, but that won't take much at all to do. For instance, the shutdown functionality can be fixed by putting the lock screen power button functionality in the lower right corner of the start screen too. Another option is to simply add the options to the user tile. I had shown my neighbors a couple of screenshots of the UI last month and told them that it would be what they saw when logging into Windows 8 if they upgraded to it when it is released. They hated the idea to be honest! However, I let them use it last night and their opinion is quite different! They love it! Don't knock it until you try it!

While I agree that an easier way to hibernate or shut down the PC is needed an easy way to close open apps is even more important; I cannot any help or convenience in using ALT+TAB to scroll through several open apps.
Btw I am posting this using my W8 Developer Build.

winlonghorn said,
Exactly! This UI works great on a desktop/laptop! They should make a few changes to it to resurface functionality that has been buried by the new UI currently, but that won't take much at all to do. For instance, the shutdown functionality can be fixed by putting the lock screen power button functionality in the lower right corner of the start screen too. Another option is to simply add the options to the user tile. I had shown my neighbors a couple of screenshots of the UI last month and told them that it would be what they saw when logging into Windows 8 if they upgraded to it when it is released. They hated the idea to be honest! However, I let them use it last night and their opinion is quite different! They love it! Don't knock it until you try it!

While I agree that an easier way to hibernate or shut down the PC is needed an easy way to close open apps is even more important; I cannot foresee any convenience in using ALT+TAB to scroll through several open apps.
Btw I am posting this using my W8 Developer Build.