Make Desktop Icons Transparent
Switching themes in Windows can have a few side effects that only become apparent after working with the system for some time. Yesterday's switch to the Royale theme for Windows XP had the negative side effect that the text of icons on the computer's desktop were not transparent anymore.
They showed up in black which did not work properly with the selected white background image that was displayed on the system.
I decided to search for a solution for the issue to find out how to make desktop icons on the system transparent so that they would show up fine regardless of the background image. I was almost certain that this was a setting in Windows itself. It was there, somewhere that was sure but it is sometimes hard to remember if the setting was a standard Windows feature or available through so called Windows tweaking tools.
The option to make desktop icons transparent is a Windows feature which means that every user can set it in Windows directly without having to install third party software.
It can be found in Control Panel > System. A click on the Advanced tab and Performance loads the menu where the parameter can be changed. The Visual Effects menu contains the entry Use Drop Shadows For Icon Labels On The Desktop. Activating that option will make desktop icons transparent.
This setting resets the theme of the computer which can be easily fixed in the Display Properties. Please note that the location of the menu has changed in newer versions of Windows.
To get there open the Windows control panel as usual, and select System and Security from the menu. Click on System afterwards and here on advanced system settings on the left.
Here you find Performance under Advanced. Click on settings and make sure the "use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop" preference is selected here.
- Update: Please note that the option is still available in recent versions of Windows so that you can still enable it should it have been turned off previously.