Start Screen Customizer for Windows Phone 8.1, let the creativity begin!

One of the fun features of Windows Phone 8.1 is the ability to add a background image to your Start Screen and let it shine through transparent Live Tiles.

There is a new Windows Phone 8.1 app in the Windows Phone Store that lets you take this customization one step further. Start Screen Customizer provides you with the ability to choose a solid colored background or adjust the tones of a background image to give your Start Screen a little more pop.

Start Screen Customizer's interface is simple with options to create a background image from a solid color or accent an image in your Windows Phone Pictures Hub. The solid color option presents you with a color palette where you can pick a custom color. Additionally you have controls to switch from the color picker or a hex/rgb codes.

Start Screen Customizer

The accent image option allows you to choose an image from your Windows Phone Pictures Hub and adjust the red, green and blue tones.

Whichever option you choose, once you have your background image (or color) set just right you can save the image to the Saved Pictures album of your Pictures Hub. Once saved you can go through the normal steps to set the image as your Start Screen background.

Start Screen Customizer is a great option to set a solid color for your background image that will essentially add a custom accent color to many of your Live Tiles. In just tinkering with the app for a short time, it comes across as a simple and quick way to fine-tune your Windows Phone 8.1 Start Screen background images.

Start Screen Customizer

Start Screen Customizer is a free app and is only available for Windows Phone 8.1 devices. You can find Start Screen Customizer here in the Windows Phone Store.

Thanks, Marko, for the tip!

QR: Start Screen Customizer

George Ponder

George is the Reviews Editor at Windows Central, concentrating on Windows 10 PC and Mobile apps. He's been a supporter of the platform since the days of Windows CE and uses his current Windows 10 Mobile phone daily to keep up with life and enjoy a game during down time.

  • This is one of my favorite new features, and is why I think WP8.1 is the best OS money can buy...
    Nevertheless, I have to say that I agree with SOME of this guys complaints...
  • Ill miss fb integration it was really cool. And bing features weren't there in my region and I wanted them. Would bs extremely glad they get back those features.
  • It's still there, just makes it so it will use the app more, as it's easier for Microsoft to update it quicker. :)
  • Yeah, I miss going to the "me" tile to get all the new notifications, but I can adjust to that.. I think I already have with the action center... Some things we'll just have to be patient with, and adjust to, but things like the pictures hub are a complete disaster IMO.. We're lucky there aren't too many blunders thought..
  • Me was sweet but the average Joe just didn't get it
  • Maybe so.. Well, its still there.. Just doesn't have to much of a point now.. IDK..
  • What is a disaster about the pictures hub? It's identical to what it was except for the addition of the "all images" section, which is pretty nice.
  • I just miss the awesome background selected from one of your favorite photos. :(
  • The layout is TOTALLY different, boring, and uninspiring.. WP is great partly because of its desing.. This new hub looks unfinished, and boring.. You can't seriously think it's the same, or better..
  • I think the way it works is way better. I love the new All Pictures section, I love the fact that the OneDrive and Facebook images are in a different section, it's faster to load and easier to navigate. The only difference I see in design is that it doesn't have a background image, which personally I don't think is a problem, and there is less text, but the text was useless and just made it slower to get to our gallery. Also, the background image was on the intro page of the gallery, and the intro page, as I said about the text, was an extra step in opening the app that didn't need to be there.
  • I understand... They just need somthing along the lines of both apps..
  • Maybe they could change something to make it better. Personally I'm so happy to have an awesome looking start screen with the hability to add an image to the background that I guess I forgot about the other place where there were images. It's as if having an awesome start page makes it so we don't need to have an awesome start page in every app. It's a quicker way to go from one awesome place to every other place, instead of having an ok start screen and then an extra awesome place at the start of every app. But I guess only time will tell, it's only been two days since we installed the update so I guess we'll have to wait a little longer to really see which parts we miss and which parts we can do without.
  • No more pinch to zoom out and smoothly flick through a carousel view.
  • I hadn't noticed until I read this tread, I agree it's a couple steps backward...and if they had to mess with it why cant we create albums already?
  • That yes. A million times yes! We need to be able to create albums and organize pictures without having to do it from our computer everytime.
  • Huh? I thought it's better now. Before, it was a mess with local and cloud images all mixed up.
  • Yeah, bit there were settings to control that.. Did you not use them?
  • Like what? You could never separate albums before!
  • I was just thinking about the background image settings... I personally always wanted a setting to have it open in saved pictures because that's what I go to the most...
  • Do you no longer have the Me tile? Cause you can still pin it if you go in to people and click on your picture. Then you can still post and check in and see what is new on Facebook and Twitter.
  • It still works for seeing what's going on with your social networks, but it doesn't give you notifications anymore. Personally I deactivated it a long time ago since it was incomplete (it didn't notify me when there was an event on Facebook and stuff like that) so I don't miss it, but some people used it. But I think now that we have the notification center at least we still have one place where we get all the notifications from Twitter and Facebook. We just need to get used to the new method (personally I think the new method is awesome!!).
  • So agree with the Picture Hub, was was unique and beautiful now looks boring and needs to be returned to its former style, PLEASE!!!
  • Tell me about it. I was about to rave WP8.1 until I found out they f*cked up the photo hub. Well that and the lack of Data and battery saver toggles on "quick settings". These are my three major complains about 8.1. I really hope Microsoft just reverts it with the first GDR...
  • Yeah, not making data or battery saver a quick setting option was really stupid. It'd also be nice if they'd let you horizontally scroll the quick setting buttons, so you could have more than four on there, should you please.
  • Yeah, that's one of the first things I though when I saw the notification center, they need to add the ability to scroll to add extra buttons!!!
  • My biggest, well only gripe is the removal of voice commands via the Windows button.
  • If you long press the search icon, it engages voice commands via Cortana.
  • They just moved it to the search button - no biggie.
  • No, I won't say that WP8.1 is bad.. It's terrific... But, some things just didn't need to be fixed.. I really agree with you about not having more settings available to choose from in quick settings... No Data toggle?? Are they nuts??
    But, 8.1 is magnificent compared to 8.0.... Let's be realistic here.
  • yah..consider this is a "preview for developers" so seriously this is great! they'll roll out updates to fix those anyways
  • But surely this will come? It is only a first taster and is easily expandable. Anything should be addable to the quick setting toggles, if not by MS then by a third party. Can't see how the photo hub is fucked up, it still shows your photos. You've lost a background image. No great shakes.
  • I hope so but I don't think third parties will be able to make those kind of toggles since it requires deeper access to the OS. You lost the background image and you're now forced into the "all" section instead of going to your albums. If I have my photos in albums, there's a reason for that. I don't want to be forced into a useless "all" mode.  The new photo hub is uglier and less practical than it was.
  • Exactly!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • I prefer it personally. If you've taken a photo recently and want to see it, it'll be there straightaway, rather than an extra tap for the camera roll. The albums are still there. But then it's horses for courses innit?
  • If you take a photo and want to see it you won't leave the camera app and go to the photos hub. The albums are there and so I should, at least, be able to decide to which section I go when I open the photos hub. I know of no one who wants to go to the photo hub to be dumped into a mess of photos instead of a clean interface with everything organized by albums. You're the first one I see saying they prefer this =P
  • If I have a photo that I took today, not necessarily from the camera app at that moment and I want to show someone, it will be the first thing I see when entering the photo hub and there will be one less press to get there. To be honest I'm quite indifferent to it. I can see it being advantageous to me and that's all I'm really bothered about. If I want my folders (which incidentally are better organized with sub folders for Facebook and OneDrive now) then they are a mere swipe away. I do think people get a little hung up on the minor things. It doesn't fundamentally alter the operation of accessing photos, it's a cosmetic change which may well alter prior to the final roll out. It is a preview after all. :¬)
  • Also lost handy access to your photo apps and social updates, right?
  • It's not "f###ed up, but it takes a true WP veteran to understand why it's not right.. It's just not right.
  • Been here since the Lumia 800. Compare what we have now with WP7... Now THAT was fucked up! Yay, I did a swear with WordFlow!
  • Lol!!! ... Well talking only about the photo hub, it was better in WP7 than it is today.. Lol!!
  • I agree it is crap, and I am NOT ok with it. But I'm thinking part of the reason is the other storage issues. I think I read somewhere that the thumbnails that were downloaded were part of the other storage issues. I dunno... I just don't like it.
  • A lot of the missing social integration will come back when the 8.1 API-enabled versions of the apps are released. And I hope maybe someone can make an app that launches Bing vision from a tile, sort of like how people made a tile that would open the rotation lock menu in GDR3.
  • The official Facebook app does this already.
  • It does, but it's still not working 100%. If you open the app from a notification in the notification menu it doesn't reset the live tile, so you then need to reopen the app from the live tile to set the tile back to 0. But I'm pretty sure it's a quick fix on their side and not that much of a problem for now.
  • So true... Microsoft is the worst company about removing features they pioneered, waiting until their competitors use them, then only adding them back years later (if ever) while everyone criticizes them for copying others. They always remove the good stuff for no reason whatsoever. Microsoft: Fully embracing the philosophy of one step forward, two steps back. :/
  • Lol!!! .... It's funny because it's true... I love WP8.1, but it's obvious some key peoples attention was diverted elsewhere...
    Lets just be patient and remember this is version 8.1.0... There's more refinement to come in the future.
  • Very true. Thankfully, we can easily get updates because we're all enrolled in the Developer Preview, and isn't that the point? To provide bug testing and feedback? So I hope Microsoft is listening, and they make some essential changes before this begins to roll out via the official carrier OTA update this summer.
  • Homeboy is back.
  • And better than ever!!!..
  • The gender switch was a success?
  • Lol!!!... For the fourth time, yes..
  • Here's a tip for using the new Start Screen background feature. Just set the background to a plain black picture and the Start Screen will look slick!  
  • Oh man.. I tried so many images yesterday.. Lol!!... Black is sicker than HIV.. It's full blown, dude.. Lol!
  • Now we wait for lockscreen customization.
  • Yes! They showed off that new start screen at build. I want to see that. :)
  • Some lady at build said they're still working on the app.. It can't come soon enough because I think that's one of the coolest features... That's the thing about 8.1,, for the first time WP users have a lot of cool things to play with... I hope MS continues with this theory..
  • It's Rudy who's doing the App. I'm pretty sure he already finished it and it's now only on tests lol
  • Well, were the beta sign-up? I'll go first.
  • I don't think it's an open beta.
  • Right!! You're right.. I remember that.. Boy, nothing gets past you.. How many times did you watch build so far, 5???... Lol❕
  • Lol 1. I watched it live. I do have an excelent memory though =P
  • Yeah I watched like 4 hours of it live ❕❕❕❕ .. LOL.
  • This is cool! :D
  • And this makes it even better.... App requires photos library HD720P (720x1280) WVGA (480x800) WXGA (768x1280)   No unnessacary requirements.   The App itself still needs some work,, problems on Icon with Photo
    But the Gradient image is pretty freaking cool. Needs to be more granular,, needs the same controls as Solid Color
    Over all,, with a little more work, this App could be very good.
  • Exactly what I wanted... great app
  • This is awesome because if you pick the solid colour it technically means you can now have very dark or very light coloured tiles. Lots of people try and get black and now they can. :)
  • Now we just need something to rotate or shuffle through a bunch of backgrounds...I keep changing mine every few hours
  • Check out an app called paper shuffle. There's a free trial but the full version is worth the money. It lets you add a bunch of pictures or albums with which it shuffles on your lock screen. And you cam set the intervals too so it can shuffle once a day , hour, or 20-40 minutes
  • I'm talking about the Start Screen backgrounds...
  • I wasn't a fan of the full picture backgrounds. I'll try this out.
  • Finally I have my black tiles on white background! And it's not via ugly ease of access!!
  • My 8.1 device is at home, cant wait to try this
  • I did black by just taking a pic with lens covered and setting it.
  • Yup. Duh.
  • Or just have Cortana pull up the blackest black, and download it.. Easy!!... No jokes please, NIST.... Lol.
  • We need wpcentral to be updated so we can see through it
  • Jay isn't working he said when he replied me. He will do it soon but.
  • I have the tile see through. Not sure why others can't get it.
  • I found the problem, used the other tile worked. So now its clear too
  • Other tile?
  • There is the OIconic Tile and the WPCentral Flip Tile. The latter doesn't have the clear view.
  • Thanks
  • we already do.
  • I found it, there is 2 choices, and I guess I chosed the wrong one. But all is great now..
  • Just realized I can't share to twitter when I choose social share. Shoes fb app not twitter
  • I pinned WPCentral App and i used a photo on my start screen. WPCentral was transparent. I unpinned it and repinned it. No settings was messed but changed toast notification on. Its now just blue not transparent. Did i do something wrong. I want my transparent WPCentral on my start screen back :( Here i saved a secreenshot before:  
  • No, the live tile uses accent background. So you done nothing wrong. I did the same thing.
  • i opened a thread about it
  • Actually, funny thing: on my L920 I pinned the WP tile to the Start screen (I use a Skinery Themes custom made WPCentral tile) and it shows with the solid accent colour. However I pinned the tile on my L1020 too and there the tile showed transparent.
  • This will NOT ADD ACCENT COLOURS. It's not the same to create tiles and accent colours. The accent colours affect the entire OS from the colour of the multitask screen to the colours of text and Cortana in the OS.   That said, good to see developers working already on stuff for 8.1. While I'm sure Skinery Themes will also bring more features to what was already an awesome app on WP8, I'll give this one a spin.   I hope developers will quickly start to update their apps to give their tiles the option of transparency. 
  • Surprised the MS and Nokia apps are not ready for this....
  • Am I the only who is not getting any notifications for facebook in action center? Please help me out.
  • See if the settings are on for it
  • Turn off all notifications in FB app, save settings and then enable them again and save. Worked for me.
  • Does it work for Facebook Beta or only official app? I did what you said and Facebook is't even in the list of apps that will show up in action center.
  • I think, a gradient looks better... Maybe there will come an app, but for me it's enough to set it with my PC.
  • Anyone interested to get Nokia blue tiles? Here is the hex value 2218130
  • I know it has nothing to do with the article but is anyone having problems with Nokia motion monitor. I activated it yesterday but didn't work today.
  • Nice, I was wondering if there would be an app like this
  • Damn, I was working on an app very similar to this ...
  • You need to be very fast with such apps.
  • Mine has a feature this one doesn't, so I'm still going ahead with it.
  • Please submit, the more the better.
  • Lol, I tried the same thing.
  • Is it just me, or does this app not work properly? When I choose an image to use with the accent colour, all it says is, "Please be patient". The image is never created.
  • Yeah I had the same problem.
  • THAT's why it told you to be PATIENT!
  • i dont know if anyone else noticed this but the blocky colors on text messages are boring after seeing the images on my live tile.  they need to extend that on text messages.
  • I downloaded this thinking it was the new lock screen customise app by Rudy. Still this is a useful app
  • I really like the gradient set up.
  • Not very intuitive when using your own image but everything else works great.
  • Amazing. Wish we could change the rest of the coloured features too.
  • WP8 should have had a colour selector from the start rather than choosing from a few more colours than under WP7
  • I don't need "pop" on my Start screen.  I want absolutely clean tiles and lines.  It would have been better if WP8.1 had a color wheel of some type.
  • How is that better?
  • Well with solid color selection, you effectively get this now.
  • most awesome WP8.1 app so far, love it, a work around for different accent colors
  • Hopefully something similar can be implemented for the entire accent of the phone. In any case, a cool, solid color combined with a similar but different phone accent makes for one hell of a color combination. This app is like the MPAtool of our start screens in some sense
  • Touche for the last sentence....
  • This has to be one of the best ideas for a wp app
  • Finally some black accent color..
  • Missing fb integration
  • this is nice app for choose any colour combination for our homescreen background i like it for transparent tiles.
  • We developed an app, Picturex, which easily let's you exchange pictures of an event with others in full quality: Upload yours (automatically if you wish), share it with others, download the pictures you'd like to keep. It's as simple as this! ;) I just thought, why not exchanging (WP8.1) start screens with all WindowsPhone fans (#WinPhan)? This is why I created an album (PicEx) for start screens. You could click on that link (to install the free app and go directly into the album): Or you could scan this QR code here:  Please share your screen ;) Thanks. More information:
  • This is a unique and awesome idea. Really, really love ❤ it, but need all tiles to be transparent. Just me....
  • shame MSFT doesn't let you change the background color. so you're stuck with white or black borders around the tiles and OS backgrounds. it woudl have been much nicer if we could control this color (as well as the accent color) to the full 16 million+ colors possible in wp. also I'd like an option to keep my background for the entire OS not just the start screen. lastly, WTF, why is there not option for the tile blending? right now the tile's background is fully trasparent showing the wallpaper. it would be much better if we could specify a blend % because there are visibility issues with some backgrounds which woudl be easily resoved with this. none of the mentioned features is difficult. they already did the hard lifting by supporting the transparency.
  • WP 8.1 is a battery hog, I have observed that even when my phone is idle it consumes around 10% battery per hour, which was definetly not the case with wp 8
  • sub.