Backgrounds and Fonts in Windows Live Mail

Posted on 2009-12-21
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
Am I able to get rid of the hideous background in Windows Live Mail (Other than the pastel borders?).  Also, is there a way of increasing the font size when viewing my inbox, sent items, etc. prior to opening up the message and changing it?
Question by:sbmgabby7
    LVL 4

    Expert Comment

    Although I am a bit confused if you are referring to the same. But here it goes.

    To get rid of the backgrounds.
    While reading a mail sent by some one else, you would have to click tools > Options. Here you can set the font you would like to read the mails in. Background, you wont have much choice, as it is the senders choice. But yes, you can disable images while reading mails, buts thats again a work around.

    While sending mails, if you want to get rid of backgrounds, just click
    Formatting > Backgrounds. (This is while you are composing the message).
    Or to make a uniform change get to Tools > Options > Send Tab (Under Windows Mail).
    You can directly choose to use only plain text mails as well. If you want it to be fully professional.

    Everything related to Send/recv options can be found under Tools > Options.

    Hope this is helpfull.

    If you need more help. Please lemme know.


    Author Comment

    What I'm referring to is the background of the Live Mail program in General.  It is a bright white with virtually no line separation between emails, folders, contacts, etc.  I was wondering if there is anyway of changing that.

    Author Comment

    Also, I realize once you open an email you can change the viewing font.  I was wondering whether the font size can be changed when I'm looking at my inbox, sent items, etc. prior to opening them.
    LVL 38

    Accepted Solution

    Hi sbmgabby7

    Windows Live Mail was created with the intention of emulating the layout of Outlook Express, but was clearly also an effort to give a universal themed appearance with the other "Live" components, including Live Messenger.  A kind of half way step towards Vista-like appearance where panes fade in and fade out on mouseover, etc, and an effort to make everything look like you are interacting seamlessly with online webmail.

    Personally I dislike the clunky bloated theme, which makes it as sprightly as a Toyota Yaris with 5 passengers and a large roof-rack towing a travel trailer with flat tyres.  Although you can change the colours used in the user interface to make it like a new "theme", you can't really change the appearance of the components in terms of shape.

    You have a little paint brush icon in the "toolbar" with a drop-down list entitled "launch the colorizer".  The default theme is a weather-faded pasetl blue gradient, but the "More Colors" choice allows you to choose more robust and solid colours to make it look less like a girl's bedroom, but I don't think you can get away from the all over gradient colouring.

    You can Right-Click on each of the configured accounts in the Folder Pane and choose "Set Color", but all this does is change the colour of the account name, so it's pretty useless except where you have multiple account folders showing there.

    You can choose to a slight extent how the message pane shows your unopened messages using thr View menu > Layout > click on "Message List" > set to "Automatic" or to "One Line View".  This gives it more of a solid Outlook/Outlook Express type feel, where the messages are more prominent and take up less space than in the default wide rectangular "Two-Line" bubbles.  In this view you also then have access to the View menu > Columns.  This allows access to the various icons that show if there is an attachment, to flag or watch a message, and to hide or show columns that you can rearrange.  Again, this is the more classic OE look rather than "webmail" appearance.

    As far as controlling how large or small the text shows in the overall layout goes, I have not found any setting that allows you to adjust this.  Neither does Outlook Express when it comes to it.  I suppose they reckon that if you can read every Windows dialog, see the icons on your Task Bar, etc, then the Windows Live Mail layout should be large enough for you also, and that any adjustments should be made to your Desktop settings or Accessibility options.

    Yes it's disappointing, especially for Vista users who were forced to use Windows mail in the absence of Outlook Express as a preference, but there are other email applications such as Mozilla Thunderbird, Opera, etc which can probably be tweaked to an overall appearance to suit your aesthetic preferences.

    You haven't said what your Operating System is.  I'm presuming that it is Windows XP, or else you would be talking about "Windows Mail" rather than "Windows Live Mail".  If you are using XP and have had to resort to Windows Live Mail to retrieve your Hotmail, then I'm not sure if you are aware that you CAN retrieve Hotmail in Outlook Express.

    This would infer that you need to install Windows Live Mail:
    however, this gives you the settings, which are the same as you use in Live Mail:

    Ignore old pages like this that give you the OLD Hotmail settings that configure Outlook Express to retrieve Hotmail as HTTP:

    As with most other applications that attract criticism and are limited in "tweakability", I'm sure that some enterprising individuals out there will have tried to compile utilities to tweak Windows Live Mail to a greater extent than the limited default offerings.
    If it had been possible, then this guy would surely have come up with a partner utility to his Live Messenegr tweaker:
    but I see no evidence of such a utility for Live Mail.

    From what I can see the actual layout is stored deep within the various DLL files and possibly also in the two "theme" files in the Windows Live Mail program folder:
    C:\Program Files\Windows Live\Mail\mailhc.thm (high contrast theme)C:\Program Files\Windows Live\Mail\vista.thm (as it says).
    These files are not editable like *.xml, *.htm, or *.css files would be if they were used, so any "tweaking" will likely have to be able to dig into and modify binary resource libraries.

    From what I can see the Current User's registry settings for Windows Live Mail:
    [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail]
    don't actually store the details of the current appearance in an editable format which would allow you any greater control over tweaking the appearance than is offered by the menu options within the application.  The Font-related registry values only seem to relate to opened messages.

    This is an interesting discussion that probably answers things for you:

    I like the statement by Dr. Barry L. Ornitz in the above discussion:
    "Many of us did complain, including several well respected MS MVP's. We
    were told that the color scheme of WLM was chiseled in stone and would not
    be changed. Basically WLM is useless to me because the contrast is so
    poor. I use Windows Mail which is quite readable. You can rest assured
    that until Microsoft fires its Feng Shui designers, etc."

    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    Thank you sbmgabby7.

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