(free) way to change the taskbar background color in xp pro?

Is there a way to change just the taskbar color in xp pro?  I have a lead on editing explorer.exe using Resource Hacker, but can't find the right setting in there.

Also, I have the taskbar along the right edge of the screen (vertical task bar), which "Titanium Taskbar" doesn't support.

Open to alternatives.  Saw a newsgroup posting that recommended Windows Blinds, but it was followed by people complaining that WB makes the OS/gui run sluggish.  Also looks like it costs.

Thanks for any suggestions-
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There are a few options but your on the right track,

You can install a msstyle theme, which will in turn change the taskbar to what color is part of the theme. if you search msstyle theme's in google you will get a plethora of results.

your other options include windows blinds, which is similar to msstyle themes but will cost you money for the program, thus not a free option.

The only other option would be to use Resource Hacker to edit or build a msstyle for urself, however you would be best off just using a premade msstyle theme, and if you really want to, edit one thats already been made if your not satified with the results.

For msstyle themes, i would use http://www.deviantart.com as they have a wide variety. Also to note for most msstyle themes you need to a patch, most themes come with it however you can find it standalone with the below link.


ottenmAuthor Commented:
Thanks Robdb29, you are right about getting a plethora of results with the msstyle themes.

Is there a way to just change the color of the taskbar?  The themes seem to sort-of take over everything.
ya i can understand that, im not too familiar with Resource Hacker but let me grab it and ill get back to you with an answer.

Give this a try,

open the %windir%\Resources\Themes\Royale\Royale.msstyles. in Resource Hacker and change the following 2 BITMAPs:


After they are changed, do a save as and make a new msstyles file for your modified version, than run it (change theme to it).

Note: you need the patched uxtheme.dll file installed for it to work correctly

also, if for some weird reason you dont have the royale theme you can dl it from here: http://www.softpedia.com/get/Desktop-Enhancements/Themes/Royale-Theme-for-WinXP.shtml

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ottenmAuthor Commented:
I found a much, much less painful way of dealing with the taskbar color: just by an ice pick and poke out the section of your brain that recognizes color.

Alternatively, these are the steps I followed thanks to Robdb29's awesome help:

Download the "Royale" theme (couldn't find it on a few systems w XP installed):
When you run the exe, it prompts you for a save directory.  If you accept "C:\WINDOWS" it will actually put the files under C:\WINDOWS\Resources\Themes, including the file Royale\Royale.msstyles.

To edit that file, I used Resource Hacker from here:
... and had to replace these bitmaps:
In Resource Hacker you can right-click on a bmp image to copy it to the clipboard (then paste into the image editor of your choice and save as a bmp, preserving the dimensions which are 28x41 and 28x110 for the bar/tray vertical images above).  Resource Hacker has a context menu for replacing a bmp resource, just browse to the bmp file you created in the image editor.

To apply the new Royale theme you first have to replace a windows system file (uxtheme.dll) with a patched version that will ignore the fact that the theme file has been tampered with.  I got the patched file here:
And followed these steps to replace it:
Download Replacer: http://www3.telus.net/_/replacer/
Run replacer.cmd (black console window opens)
Drag/drop this file into the console window: C:\Windows\system32\uxtheme.dll and hit enter.
Drag the patched uxtheme.dll into the console window and hit enter.
Confirm, press any key when done, reboot the system.

Now you can apply the royale theme: right-click on the desktop, properties, themes and select Royale or browse to Royale.theme (not the msstyles file).

This looks like a decent ice pick for $2.49 at the time of publication:
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Windows XP

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