Have you ever changed your desktop theme or just your desktop background and discovered that the text for your desktop icons is no longer transparent? Instead you now have a colored background box behind the text. If you have experienced this situation, chances are that you searched high and low for a solution, but were unable to find one.

Unfortunately, this is because the setting that allows you to control the icon transparency is very poorly named. Rather than being named something makes sense, Microsoft choose to name the setting “Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop.” To make matters worse, this setting is buried in the Performance Options dialog box rather than on the Display Properties dialog box.

In any case, sometimes that act of changing a desktop theme or desktop background inadvertently disables the Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop setting. Fortunately, re-enabling is it easy. Here’s how:

  1. Access the Control Panel and double-click System.
  2. When you see the System Properties dialog box, select the Advanced tab.
  3. Click Settings button in the Performance section.
  4. When you see the Performance Options dialog box, scroll down the list and select the “Use drop shadows for icon labels on the desktop” checkbox.
  5. Click OK twice — once to close Performance Options dialog box and once to close the System Properties dialog box.

You should now have your transparent icons back.

Note: This tip applies to both Windows XP Home and Windows XP Professional.

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