Developers: Here's how to give users the option for a Transparent Live Tile (Updated)

Starting with Windows Phone 8.1 users can select a background wallpaper for their Start screen. The trick only works with apps that have a transparent Live Tile, which has resulted in a massive push by fans for more apps with those see-through Tiles. But like all things in life, sometimes it goes too far. For instance, many people have – rightly – complained that they liked those 'signature' colors for certain apps because it made finding them easier. I agree.

What's the best way to rectify the situation? Give users a choice. Here's how to do it.

Developers should provide a toggle switch to their audience to enable or disable the use of transparent Live Tiles. It's technically feasible and even easy to do with the added benefit of making people very happy.

The developer behind the popular Dribble app Threepointer, Stan Gursky, has offered this possibility in his app through a simple toggle screen found in settings. But even better, Gursky has just shared the templates so that other developers can do the same. The transparent Live Tile template is a Photoshop file (psd), 100% vector (scalable) and even comes in light or dark themes.

As someone who reads a lot of comments and keeps a pulse on the Windows Phone community, I think developers would be crazy to not offer this option.

Developers, you now have no excuse. Go to Gursky's site linked below, download the templates and add the option to your app today. In fact, the first developer to use Gursky's templates, get their app updated on the Store and who notify us ( will get a quick post on our site to tell the world. Cool?

Come on developers, make this happen.

And for those of you who want to see this option in action now, go download Threepointer here in the Store.

Update: Alex Reed (@alexerax) has created a XAML out of the Photoshop file and shared the code, making the task even easier!

Source: Gursky-design; via @DVLUP

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • ...and to our audience, let developer know about this post so that they can update their apps!
  • Thanks!
  • Please Daniel add +1 for comments, I think it could help a lot; that way we can see important things instead, for example, seems faster or something like that...
  • Giving options to customers w/o compromising security should be a plus for any developer. Plus it'd make me look cool.
  • Did you inform Jay Bennett about this Dan?? :-P :-P
  • Pretty sure our app already gives user a choice ;)
  • I read that the option is there but can't seem to find plzz
  • I added the transparent live tile to my universal apps. Will look into adding this option too.
  • Yesterday i downloaded "RapDialer" (smart dialer app) it offers to select a color for the tile and the level of transparency. it's cool. Talking about transparent tiles... oh how i wish the grey overlay was an option, or that we could select a custom color for it or the transparency level of it. Some picture don't need that overlay and they look ugly with it.
  • I'll use this for TrashMap for sure. Btw, private beta starting on Monday ;)
  • Ok, you piqued my interest :) What is TrashMap?
  • Do you read this, MICROSOFT? I know you do. Well, go on and set the example. Chop chop. I saw a lot of people here mad when you removed the green from the Xbox tiles...
  • Yeah, I'm certainly one of them. I have an annoying '1' on my store tile because I'm not going to update XBM until they provide an option, as it will mess up what I've done with my start screen.
  • Lol. OCD much? ;)
  • Yep, I much preferred the green. Every tile looking exactly the same is boring...
  • A small app that brings the green told back ;)
  • You sir, are a life saver. Just pinned the green tile thank god!
    Feel normal again :P
  • Just have a full green background. Problem solved.
  • Seems like you don't understand the problem.
  • That's not a solution just like it isn't for the absence of more accent colours. It's about options we're talking about (just like it also says in the article).
    Some people liked the Green for the Xbox products and they were striped of it. I'm not one of those but I don't want to impose my tastes on others. Same thing worth the 3 columns of tiles on the 930 and 1520. If the 3 columns are optional in the other smaller phones, they should also be on the larger ones. It's all about options for customization. The not customization Microsoft allows, the better for everyone.
  • Windowsphone Appstudio needs to support this!
  • Yes. And few more basic options.
  • Yes seems like it should just be part of the frame work.  Microsoft always half asses solutions.
  • You mean gets them right the third time around?
  • Every app should have an option, even MS's *Video*
  • And the Xbox Music app.
  • At least you can use the Video app. Been broken for me since 8.1. :/
  • Unistall
  • You can't uninstall neither video and xbox music apps on 8.1.
  • Love you Daniel. You are awesome.
  • Daniel is already married..Don't lure him into a trap!!
  • Love him as a bro then. 
  • How to get the original tile back from the transparent tile??
  • You can't...only if the Dev adds this code...
  • Check out "Green Music Tile" for Windows Phone
  • This needs to be on every single app like is it really that hard to make a tile transparent option?
  • I'm going to use this when I make my first app sometime next month!
  • Even all the Microsoft apps need this
  • Are Bing severs down??
  • Same here on my end. Cortana is not working. Desktop site is simply opening the Chinese page, no matter what region settings I am using.
  • And here I was... thinking that my laptop has been hit with a Chinese virus. lol
  • I think some thing is wrong too. I get Bing China when I go to It has never happened before.
  • Maybe the are working on the bi monthly update of cortana. It will come back soon I guess
  • Yeah it seems so. I think adding hardware upgrades to the Bing servers might have caused this. Remember, WPCentral posted about this a few days ago ??
  • Yeah, last time, I heard they were working with Chinese updates and well, i hope they are back soon.
  • Xbox team needs it too!
  • Finaaaaly. Been crying over user voice forum on windows phone website.
    We NEED the option even from Microsoft I hate the transparent colour of Music and Video. I want the store to be green too. And Every app should have this option.
    Makes phone look vibrant and colorful rather than just have one color or everything transparent. We need to have a mixed experience of wp8 and wp8.1 with option of both features
    Please go and vote hope Microsoft listens to it at least
  • Agreed and +3 votes!
  • +3
  • There's no "finally" about anything. This is just showing developers what has already been their choice since day one. It doesn't mean apps will magically change, unfortunately.
  • Its finally because I saw an article on it and more developers will at least listen to it. And now the template is been released maybe more apps will come up with this option. So..
  • Thanks Gursky. Hope viber, 6tag, Facebook and many other app developers gets the idea from you and makes use of your template.
  • 6tag already gives user a choice.
  • I couldn't agree more with this article. I change the look of my start screen often and I want it both ways depending on what look I'm going for.
  • Finally every app should have this function
  • Cool name bro.
  • What about developers that have already transparent live tiles ;-)
  • They too should give the option. I hate it that Facebook messenger and Xbox music force it on you.
  • They don't "force" it on you. You have the option to set a photo as your background or use accent theme+color and pick any color you want. You all will never be happy.
  • You don't get the problem. If you choose a solid color as a background, you'll have (almost) all your tiles with that colour. If you'll have this option, you'll have your tiles in different colours (and some transparent). I don't want my start screen to be full cyan, based on your "solution."
  • Please try to understand what the problem actually is before accusing us we will never be happy. Thanks.
  • BIIIIIG up:D:D:D
  • Still down
  • Look at you guys. Tips for devs. Should do that more often.
  • MS should just put it in the sdk. "Right click" the tile so to speak, and choose tile size and tile type.
  • I've been offering this option on M+ Apps since a long time ago, and will soon implement it on Theme+. Not using the template, though —a regular toggle will do. I'll let you know when the update hits the Store. :)
  • Nice! Keep it up:)
  • Tack så mycket.
    Gracias amigo.
    Vielen dank
    Thanks, like a lot.
  • Very cool post Daniel. Thx. User experience is all in the details and this particular detail is important.
  • 6snap has it as well
  • Options = ❤
  • What about developer Keeping the color and just Making it semi-transparent,this will be cool.then you have still the color and also you can see through it.
  • You can't do that. The tile can only have white in it if you want it to be transparent.
  • Not really —Live Tiles can be anything from fully opaque to fully transparent, and everything in between. This is how Theme+ would look with a semi-transparent Live Tile:
  • I simply will not install an app that forces me to use hideous transparent tiles.
  • Good for you!
  • I know that the latest update to the App Studio alleges to make it easier to publish apps we create...but I beg to differ. I've just about given up trying.
  • Have you guys seen this? Daniel?
  • Tbh I'm fine with no transparent's easier to locate my apps based on their colour
  • That's the point. It works both ways as in what if the app now only has a transparent tile? What will you do when you want that color back? Right now, for Xbox Music you don't have a choice, it's just see through. This method allows transparent Tiles to go back to colored ones.
  • Skype and line developer...put this in, you are ruining the beauty of my
  • Whoa! Thanks Daniel and WPCentral for the post! Really glad that it gets some attention, so we can get better apps in return :)
  • No problem! Glad you wrote that article.
  • myappfree already has this feature..
  • I like the transparent tile of SURFY browser. Though its transparent still the logo is blur in colour, Which is damn cool....
    Wish all the app could be like that instead of white colour
  • So it has not released yet...Am I right. ?:D
  • WPCentral your move)
  • Bing working fine here in India :)
  • Great, hopefully every dev uses this, also having the option to use the accent color would be a nice extra
  • I think this is positive as negative. As an dev i can say options and so on is cool but i also know if you give users one or two options they want 10 more. Then again there are users that want Android features on WP and complain in reviews where the dev cant do anything against. Options are good but if in the end the app branding is screwed because of too much customizing to get happy users this apps will go down. I think the dev/designer should have always the last word on app design an not one or more user that gives bad reviews to extort design changes based on their mood and believing. Some apps just cant have overall transparency, look at the WPC app if you remove the pictures on the live tiles because of this trend called transparency then this is stepping back on features and real WP design. My experience is that some users want design like Android apps on WP. And users easily say is "transparency" really that hard to implement, unfortunately some users think apps are made by "right click add... (lockscreen, live tiles, other stuff)" save and update. :) sometimes it is not easy at all. P.s. My apps have transparent tiles (i don't complain) :)
  • Amen to that. I totally agree with you.
  • But transparency IS easy. Just sayin :P
  • So true...
  • A bunch of those apps are also transitioning to use transparent images in the application list.  What is up with that?  You can go to the store, download an app, and never see the tile image that was advertised in the store.  Even worse, those images are used in a couple places in the OS, such as for share targets.  All the accent color makes the one you want to find in a list much more difficult.  The Reading List app is an example of this problem.  I like that ruby-colored app icon.  Need that back in the app list.
  • I released Super Percentage Calculator for WP 8.1 with transperent tiles. May be I can think of giving this option. Thanks for this article
  • In my app I generate the tile on the fly based on a control on screen, so depending on the settings I just set the background to transparent if necessary and save it as png. Done.
  • Whatever, I made a weather app that lets you could the backgroud color using 4 sliders to get the ARGB. You want the tile background color to be orange and 50% transparent, no worries.
  • Already did this ages ago. Other devs; sort your shit out! :P
  • I'd license that library.
  • OneLens has this option. :)
  • Cool. I NEED THIS. :-D
  • Sometimes i really don't want transparent tile
  • Fellow Developers, It would be awesome if someone could create a control/user control for this. It would save other developers a lot of rework time. Thanks
  • Amen to this post! I think it transparent tiles should be always an option, the standard one being mandatory.
  • Well done, indeed. He set forth a path with the steps, so others can follow. 
  • Someone forward this to developpers in MSFT! I want my green Music and Videos tiles back :(
  • Is this complex that green tiles or red tiles be transparent too?
  • Is it possible to do this while targeting 8.0? My app isn't moving to 8.1 until enough of the userbase is there to constitute that.
  • Now we just need the developers to pick up on this, and make this option avaiable by default on their live tiles. Yes, i'm talking to you, Live Tile Agenda developer! :) MS should really do something regarding the new features they are introducing for apps. Just like the changelog option now available in the appstore, hardly any dev is using it. It boggles my mind that a dev is able to push regular updates, some devs even daily, but what affectively is changed/improved in the app is nowhere to be found.
  • This is a great idea on the part of the devs, but I think it should be taken a step further by Microsoft. My idea, as proposed on, is to add an icon to the unpin/resize options on the home screen. A sample of this can be found at I don't recall seeing this anywhere, but I think it's the "best" way to toggle your live tiles. If you like the idea, please vote for it. Thanks.