How to make your Windows 8 borders transparent like Aero Glass in Windows 7

You might charge me with being a fastidious fool when I tell you my latest Windows 8 and 8.1 annoyance…

With the advent of Windows 8, Microsoft completely revamped the user interface but dumped the transparent windows borders that I grew to love in Windows 7.  Maybe this is just a minor offense; however, my opaque borders are really buggin’ me.

Windows 8.1 Aero Taskbar

Given that the Windows 8.1 taskbar is already diaphanous I knew there had to be a way to restore that frosty glass look I craved.  But I made an abortive effort trying to fix this because I couldn’t locate a registry key or group policy object to bring back my little glass effect.

Windows 8.1 Opaque Borders

Glass8

I gave Glass8 a try but encountered a myriad of problems.

Glass8 is a free utility that implants itself into the Desktop Window Manager without modifying any system files.   There’s no background service running therefore there’s virtually no performance hit to worry about.  I figured I’d give it a whirl on my Windows 8.1 box, so went to the download page and selected my installer

Aero Glass for Windows 8.1

But then received a rude error about compatibility.

That’s when I realized I clicked that 32bit version instead of the 64bit copy.  It’s imperative that you pick the right bit version or else you’ll see this frightening message on reboot:

themecpl-dll is incompatible

Once I downloaded the file and breezed through the installer…

Aero Glass Windows 8 Setup Wizard

Agreeing to the terms…

Aero glass for Windows 8 setup terms

Choosing my installation location…

Aero Glass for Windows 8 Destination Location

Leaving the defaults…

Aero Glass for Windows 8 additional tasks

Finishing the installation I rebooted only to be unceremoniously greeted with an obscure error which I could barely decipher.

Not very Aero…

dwm.exe broken

I probably did something wrong; however, I didn’t have the time to figure it out so I moved on to plan B: a little known Windows 8 hack to bring back transparent borders.

The High Contrast Trick

This little trick isn’t perfect though because sometimes the transparent borders don’t render appropriately and since the opacity is set to zero, it’s not as pretty.  For example, you’ll miss the nuanced blur and shadow effects that you loved in Windows 7.  But despite this shortcoming, this trick works and is all we have until either Microsoft provides a patch or someone creates a hack.

Right click on the Desktop, choose Personalize then scroll down and pick High Contrast White.

Windows 8 High Contrast White

Then choose the Color option next to Desktop Background.

When the screen loads just move it out of the way.  We need to leave it open but don’t click anything in here yet.

Windows 8 High Contrast White

Now right-click the Desktop again, go back to Personalize so that a second Personalization Window opens.

In this second window, choose any Windows Default Theme.

Windows 8 Default Theme

Now switch over to the first Personalization window you opened and click Save Changes.

All borders are clear.

Windows 8 Default Theme

Now, I admit this isn’t great.  It looks more like a wire frame or a Windows without glass but it’s the best we’re going to get for now.  If you’ve had success with Aero Glass for Windows 8 or found a better hack please share in the comments below!

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Posted in How To, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Tagged with:
  • Ing_Imperator

    It didn’t work because you downloaded the Win8 version although you are running 8.1

    I made the same error. Download the 8.1 version and start the install.bat with admin rights

    • raoul

      I did the HIGH contras trick
      din’t responded well with my pc but it gave me the same transperency shown above but the borders were not showing well what can i doto make transperent pleas guys help me

  • Alec Taylor

    Aero Glass didn’t work for me either (And I downloaded the one compatible with 8.1 like im supposed to), but then I found WinAeroGlass, which has no blur but you just click it and you have it working already.