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Changing Windows appearance settings using the registry

CESD-S-0057

Applies To:

  • Windows CE 2.0, SP1
  • Handheld PC Professional, SP1
  • Handheld PC 2000
  • Windows CE 4.0, 4.1, 4.2 .net

Overview:

All Windows CE appearance settings, such as colour schemes and window sizes are stored in the Windows CE Registry.

This article covers the registry keys that can be used to manipulate appearance.


Guide:

Older Windows CE devices do not have a utility within the Control Panel display applet that allows them to change the colour scheme of the native Windows CE shell. Primarily this guide is aimed at users of Windows CE 2.0 devices. However the information is still applicable to newer devices and for users who wish to backup their colour settings using the registry.

This guide requires the advanced use of a Registry editor and requires an understanding of registry manipulation. You can render your Handheld PC unusable if you incorrectly change settings.

 

Windows Colour Scheme Settings

The Windows Colour Scheme controls the visual appearance of any application controlled using standard Windows API calls. Backgrounds, Menu's, Dialogues and buttons are all controlled by these settings.

The Active Scheme is controlled from:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\GWE

The active colour scheme settings are held within the Binary "SysColor".
The contents of a Binary are entered in Hex. When you Handheld PC loads the information stored in the registry value it automatically breaks down the information into it's constituent parts.

Each block of 4 two digit alphanumeric characters constitutes one colour code assigned to a particular Windows CE colour setting.

For example if the "SysColor" Binary's value is:

C0 C0 C0 00 00 80 80 00 00 00 00 00 80 80 80 00
FF FF FF 00 FF FF FF 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 FF FF FF 00 C0 C0 C0 00 C0 C0 C0 00
80 80 80 00 00 00 00 00 FF FF FF 00 C0 C0 C0 00
80 80 80 00 80 80 80 00 00 00 00 00 FF FF FF 00
C0 C0 C0 00 00 00 00 00 FF FF FF 00 00 00 00 00
FF FF FF 00                        

These settings equate to the following (from left to right):

Scrollbar Desktop Background
C0 C0 C0 00 00 80 80 00
Active Title Bar Inactive Title Bar
00 00 00 00 80 80 80 00
Menu Background Window Background
FF FF FF 00 FF FF FF 00
Window Frame Menu Text
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
Window Text Active Window Title Text
00 00 00 00 FF FF FF 00
Active Border Inactive Border
C0 C0 C0 00 C0 C0 C0 00
Application Workspace HighLight Color
80 80 80 00 00 00 00 00
Highlight Text Button Face
FF FF FF 00 C0 C0 C0 00
Button Shadow Grey Text
80 80 80 00 80 80 80 00
Button Text Inactive Title Bar Text
00 00 00 00 FF FF FF 00
Button Highlight Button Dark Shadow
C0 C0 C0 00 00 00 00 00
Button Light Info Text
FF FF FF 00 00 00 00 00
Info Window  
FF FF FF 00  

If you wish to have transparent desktop icon labels, set the Desktop Background value to:
Hex: FF, FF, FF, FF

All colour changes require a soft reset before they will be displayed

 

Menu Animation

Windows CE menu animation is subtle. The effect is generated when you open a new window or application. The Border of the window will appear to grow from the centre of the screen outwards to it's final place before drawing it's contents.

The necessity of this animation negligible. On slower device it can greatly slow down window navigation and the loading of applications.

To disable Menu Animation:

Navigate to the following registry Hive:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\GWE

Create a new DWord value called:
Animate
Value = 0

These changes require a soft reset before they will be displayed

 

Menu Bar Font

The Menu bar setting allow you to change the settings of the Text Menu's presented by applications (e.g. File, Edit, View, Tools etc).

The Menu Bar settings can be found at:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\GWE\Menu\BarFnt

Settings:
Ht - DWord - Font Size (Pixels)
Wt - DWord - Font Weight (Sets how bold the Font is)
Nm - String - Literal Font Name e.g. Tahoma, Verdana, Arial
It - DWord - Set to 1 to make the Menu Font Italic
CS - DWord - Specifies the Numeric value to change the Character set

Remember: Select the correct input method. Pixel Data must be entered in Decimal -or- Using Hex Codes

 

Menu Bar Margin

IF you resize the Menu Bar font the area surrounding the Menu names (File, Edit, View etc) may not fit correctly. You can use the Menu Margin registry settings to change the positioning of the text.

The Menu Margin settings can be found at:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\GWE\Menu

Settings:
BarTMrg - DWord - Top Margin (Pixels)
BarRMrg - DWord - Right Margin (Pixels)
BarLMrg - DWord - Left Margin (Pixels)

Remember: Select the correct input method. Pixel Data must be entered in Decimal -or- Using Hex Codes

 

Menu Font

These setting control the appearance of the drop box menu that appears when you use one of the entries on the Menu bar.

The Menu Font settings can be found at:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\GWE\Menu\PopFnt

Settings:
Ht - DWord - Font Size (Pixels)
Wt - DWord - Font Weight (Sets how bold the Font is)
Nm - String - Literal Font Name e.g. Tahoma, Verdana, Arial
It - DWord - Set to 1 to make the Menu Font Italic
CS - DWord - Specifies the Numeric value to change the Character set

Remember: Select the correct input method. Pixel Data must be entered in Decimal -or- Using Hex Codes

 

Menu Settings

These Settings control other aspects of the drop box menus that appear when you select one of the entries on the menu bar.

The settings are entered in:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\GWE\Menu

Settings:
SepHt - DWord - Specifies the height of the menu separator line (Area surrounding the line)
SepXMrg - DWord - Specifies the margin each side of the separator line
SepYMrg - DWord - Specifies the margin above and below the separator line
cmdScrl - DWord - Specifies the time that a scrolling menu will scroll for
Page - DWord - Specifies the number of Up / Down arrows that equal a Page Up / Down command
Overlap - DWord - The distance between a Child and Parent cascading menu

 

Button Setting

You can change the font weight (Boldness) of Windows CE Textural Buttons

The settings are entered in:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\GWE\Button

Settings:
FontWeight - DWord - Numeric Weight Setting

 

Out-Of-Memory Error Font Settings

Out Of Memory (OOM) errors can be customised in a similar way to the native Font Settings.

The OOM Font Settings can be found at:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\GWE\OOMFnt

Settings:
Ht - DWord - Font Size (Pixels)
Wt - DWord - Font Weight (Sets how bold the Font is)
Nm - String - Literal Font Name e.g. Tahoma, Verdana, Arial
It - DWord - Set to 1 to make the Menu Font Italic
CS - DWord - Specifies the Numeric value to change the Character set

Remember: Select the correct input method. Pixel Data must be entered in Decimal -or- Using Hex Codes

 

Scroll Bars

The default size of the Windows CE Scroll Bars is often something that users wish to change. The Windows CE Scroll bars are somewhat wider than their main stream Windows counterparts. Users with good eye sight and a steady hand may wish to better use the screen space.

Scroll Bar sizes can be changed through the following Registry values:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\GWE

Settings:
cxVScr - DWord - Vertical Scroll Bar Width
cyVScr - DWord - Vertical Scroll Bar Button Height
cxHScr - DWord - Horizontal Scroll Bar Button Width
cyHScr - DWord - Horizontal Scroll Bar Height

Remember: Select the correct input method. Pixel Data must be entered in Decimal -or- Using Hex Codes

 

Desktop Wallpaper

To set the Desktop Wallpaper through the registry:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\ControlPanel\Desktop

Settings:
wallpaper - String - <%Path to Image File%>