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Make Desktop Icon Text Background Transparent

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Behind the scene



In previous versions of Windows the desktop icon texts have a coloured background against the desktop wallpaper. In Windows XP the background is set transparent by default. You can disable this feature or re-enable it in System Properties. This is a new feature in Windows XP; with older versions you need to use a third party icon utility e.g. Microangelo or Iconoid or other programmes which you can find on the internet to do it.



Go to System Properties ([Windows key] + [Break]), Advanced, Performance Settings. In the Performance Options window, Visual Effects, choose Custom and scroll to the bottom of the scroll box and untick (to disable) or tick (to enable) Use drop shadow for icon labels on the desktop. Click Apply and OK (Fig. 1)

Tick or untick the Use drop shadows option

Fig. 1. System Properties, Advanced, Performance Options window, Visual Effects tab.


Behind the scene

The process of setting the icon text background transparent is more involved than is apparent from using the method above. It uses Windows' listview object and rundll32.exe to make the change. This is reflected in the registry by the following key change. A value of (1) indicates drop shadow in effect and a transparent background and (0) the opposite.


REG_DWORD = 0x00000001 (1)



Listview object


Copyright 2003 by Kilian. All my articles including graphics are provided "as is" without warranties of any kind. I hereby disclaim all warranties with regard to the information provided. In no event shall I be liable for any damage of any kind whatsoever resulting from the information. The articles are provided in good faith and after some degree of verification but they may contain technical or typographical errors. Links to other web resources may be changed at any time and are beyond the control of the author. Articles may be added, removed, edited or improved at any time. No support is provided by the author.

This is not an official support page for any products mentioned. All the products mentioned are trademarks of their companies. Edit the registry at your own risk and back up first.

Last updated 7 Feb 2004