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Windows Screen Frames

Windows Screen Shades / October 27, 2023

Screen shot of window frame around Notepad windowMost programs should use standard window frames. Immersive applications can have a full screen mode that hides the window frame. Consider using glass strategically for a simpler, lighter, more cohesive look.

With a window frame, users can manipulate a window and view the title and icon to identify its contents.

A typical window frame.

Note: Guidelines related to window management and branding are presented in separate articles.

Glass window frames

Screen shot of glass frame around calculatorThe glass window frames are a striking new aspect of the Microsoft Windows aesthetic, aiming to be both attractive and lightweight. These translucent frames give windows an open, less intrusive appearance, helping users focus on content and functionality rather than the interface surrounding it.

Glass window frames.

You can use glass strategically in small regions within a window that touch the window frame. Such regions appear to be part of the window frame, even though technically they are part of the window's client area.

In this example, glass is used in the client area to make it look like part of the frame.

Screen shot of window with translucent edgeHidden frames

Sometimes the best window frame is no frame at all. This is often the case for the primary window of immersive full screen applications that aren't used in conjunction with other programs, such as media players, games, and kiosk applications.

Content viewers often benefit from having the option to show content full screen. Examples include Windows Internet Explorer, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker HD, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Word.

In this example, Windows Media Player can display its content full screen.

Custom frames

Most Windows applications should use the standard window frames. However, for immersive, full screen, stand-alone applications like games and kiosk applications, it may be appropriate to use custom frames for any windows that aren't shown full screen. The motivation to use custom frames should be to give the overall experience a unique feel, not just for branding.

Screen shot of Media Player in full-screen view Illustration of scrambled picture puzzle and frame Screen shot of distracting frame Screen shot of window with Full Screen menu item