Visual Styles


Visual styles changes the appearance of common controls based on the theme chosen by the user. Prior to Windows 8, you must specifically configure your application to use visual styles; otherwise, the application's common controls are always rendered in the style associated with the Windows Classic theme, regardless of the currently selected theme. In Windows 8, visual styles can't be turned off, Windows Classic mode no longer exists, and high contrast mode has been modified to work with visual styles.

This section provides an overview of visual styles and explains how to configure your application to use them.

Developer audience

Visual styles are designed for use by C/C++ developers and UI designers. In general, developers need a moderate level of understanding about UI programming concepts, Windows API programming, and Unicode.

Run-time requirements

Windows Vista and later operating systems.


Visual Styles are not supported in 256-color mode.


In this section

Theme File Format

Windows Controls