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How To Bring Start Screen-Like Feel To Desktop In Windows 8

The Start Screen is one of the key features of Windows 8. Not just because the whole Modern UI philosophy revolves around it, but also, it’s the only official way to access the stock Modern UI apps as well as the ones you install from Windows Store. Even many people like me who usually stick to the Desktop mode for the most part and find it hard to make friends with the metro environment cannot stop praising the aesthetically pleasing design of the Start Screen. Lucky for us, XDA Member tboy2000 has pointed out a simple way of bringing the same look to the desktop mode, complete with a Desktop label in the top-left and the user’s profile picture in the top-right corner of the screen. This also adds a bit of uniformity among both the environments, giving them a unified feel.

The screenshot below demonstrates how the Start Screen looks. It’s neat, elegant and user-friendly. So how about bringing the same elegance to the desktop mode minus the metro tiles? You may want to first change the background color and design of Start Screen to your liking before proceeding any further, though the simpler it is, the better.

Start Screen

Once you are satisfied with how your start screen looks, click the miniscule (-) button at the bottom left corner to zoom out the tiles. Windows RT users can use the pinch-to-zoom gestures for the purpose.

Step 1

This will minimize the tiles to give a bird’s eye view of all the Start Screen items. Now press Win+Print Screen on your keyboard to capture the screenshot. Likewise, Windows RT users can hold Win+Volume down on their device to take the screenshot. By default, the captured screens are saved in the Screenshots folder under Pictures library. Removing the tiles area (highlighted in the screenshot below) is fairly simple and you can use any image editor to do that. For this tutorial, I’ll be using Windows Paint because not only is it quite simple and easy to use, but it also comes out of the box with all versions of Windows.

Step 2

After launching Paint, open the previously captured Start Screen image in the application.

Step 3

First of all, you need to select the Color Picker from the Ribbon UI in order to select the same color that matches your Start Screen background. Once Color Picker is selected, click or tap any plain colored area of the image to grab that color.

Step 4

Make sure that both Color  1 & 2 swatches have the same color . To choose the second color, simply tap on Color 2 and repeat the above process.

Step 5

Now that you have successfully matched both the colors, it’s time to move ahead. Select the Rectangle shape from the Shapes pane. Next, click or tap the Outline and Fill drop down menus and select Solid Color for both.

Step 6

Draw the rectangle shape over the tiles, so the tiles part is no longer visible. Likewise, you can draw the rectangle over the Start text to remove that as well.

Step 7

Once done, click the Text Tool from the Ribbon, as now we need to type the ‘Desktop’ text at the same position where the Start title/header appears in Start Screen.

Step 8

For a more coherent feel, try to match the Desktop text’s look to that of Start header. For that, you may need to try on some different typefaces before making the final choice (Segoe UI Light was the closest one I came across). Likewise, you may also want to adjust font size according to your liking. Lastly, save the file as PNG or JPEG, and set the image as your desktop wallpaper.

Step 9

You can also re-size the desktop icons from the right-click context menu and make them larger for a more captivating look. In addition, you can change your desktop icons with Modern UI-style tiles to give it a more authentic look if you wish.

Desktop Ready Now

[via XDA-Developers]


  1. “Even many people like me who usually stick to the Desktop mode for the most part and find it hard to make friends with the metro environment cannot stop praising the aesthetically pleasing design of the Start Screen.”
    I find the Start Screen to be the ugliest part of Windows 8…
    Primitive colours, rectangles and squares on a simplistic background that can’t easily be altered… Live tiles are useless when you can’t stand to look the screen itself…
    I’d rather have a nice hi qualityphotograph or graphic on the screen than something that looks like pre-schoolers designed it…

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