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Computer screens can be glaringly bright, especially in the dark. Try reducing eye strain 4 Ways To Prevent Computer-Related Eye Strain Without Losing Productivity 4 Ways To Prevent Computer-Related Eye Strain Without Losing Productivity Do you spend many hours in front of a computer screen? If you do, you’re probably familiar with the inescapable eye strain that comes with it. Headaches, burning eyes, itchiness and just being tired, are... Read More by using a dark Windows visual style and web browser theme. You can even give every web page you view a white-text-on-black-background look.

High-Contrast Themes

You can choose from two types of dark Windows themes: (1) a high-contrast theme — which won’t look as pretty, but doesn’t require any additional software — or (2) a third-party theme, for which you need to perform a little hack on Windows to install it.

Both Windows 7 and Windows 8 have several built-in High Contrast themes you can use to get a dark desktop and applications. Right-click your desktop, select Personalize, and select one of the High Contrast themes. Feel free to try each and see which you prefer.

windows-high-contrast-black-theme

Third-Party Visual Styles

The high-contrast themes aren’t ideal. They’re designed for accessibility, not prettiness. They also don’t use Aero, so they’re not properly hardware accelerated and don’t look as nice.

However, Microsoft doesn’t allow you to install third-party Windows themes without a hack. Download the UltraUXThemePatcher installer, run it, and reboot your computer to patch your system. The tool modifies the uxtheme.dll file in Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 to load any theme you like — by default, it checks themes you attempt to load and only loads them if they’re signed by Microsoft.

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patch-uxtheme-dll

 

Once the patch was applied, you can download theme files and drop them in C:\Windows\Resources\Themes. They’ll appear in the Personalization dialog.

Selected Third-Party Themes

Since you can choose from so many different themes, here are a few samples. Some of these themes also come with icons and fonts — the screenshots below show how they look without the additional bits. Bear in mind that the themes won’t look perfect in every program, as many programs just assume you’re using the Microsoft-provided default themes.

Dark Agility for Windows 7 focuses on providing a dark interface. Many dark themes provide a dark toolbar and white content panes, but Dark Agility goes all the way. Compare it to the high-contrast theme above and you’ll see just why you’d want to use a third-party theme. It’s much slicker.

dark-agility-theme-for-windows-7

Dark Pearl VS for Windows 7  incorporates more gray for additional contrast. The content panes are no longer blindingly white, so it’s a nice compromise between an all-black or all-bright theme.

dark-pearl-vs-without-icons

Abisso 2014 for Windows 8.1 is about as dark as you can get. It’s all black aside from the text and interface elements, which are white and blue to stand out.

abisso-2014-dark-theme-for-windows-8

Steam VS for Windows 8.1 uses dark grays that match how Valve’s Steam gaming service 6 Useful Tools For Getting More Out Of Steam Games 6 Useful Tools For Getting More Out Of Steam Games Steam is packed with a variety of useful features you may not be aware of, but third-party developers have made utilities and websites that add even more features to Steam. From moving installed games to... Read More looks. There’s a version for Windows 7, too.

steam-vs-for-windows-8.1-dark-gray-theme

We’ve covered more Windows 7 themes Get A Windows 7 Makeover With These Awesome Themes Get A Windows 7 Makeover With These Awesome Themes Read More and great Windows 8 themes Make Windows 8 Sexier With These Background & Theme Tweaks Make Windows 8 Sexier With These Background & Theme Tweaks Does your Windows 8 system look too bland with the default settings? You can customize it in a variety of ways, changing a variety of backgrounds and colors -- whether on the Start screen, lock... Read More in the past. For even more themes, check out the visual styles for Windows 7 or visual styles for Windows 8 categories on deviantART.

Browser Themes

You’ll probably want to install a dark browser skin so your web browser will fit in with your dark desktop. Internet Explorer doesn’t support themes and will use assets from your Windows theme, but other browsers have custom themes you can install. The themes here are just suggestions — you’ll find many more dark themes on your web browser’s theme-download website.

Slinky Elegant for Chrome provides a nice-looking, minimal dark theme that makes Chrome mesh with your new dark desktop.

dark-theme-for-chrome

Dark Fox for Firefox gives you a dark Firefox logo in your toolbar as well as white, brightly colored buttons.

dark-theme-for-firefox

Opera Simple Dark for Opera will help the Speed Dial page match your operating system theme.

opera-dark-theme

Web Styles

User styles can go beyond theming your desktop and the applications running on it. You can have user styles 5 Ways To Customize Your Browser & Have Websites The Way YOU Want Them To Be 5 Ways To Customize Your Browser & Have Websites The Way YOU Want Them To Be You’re probably familiar with browser extensions, but there are many other ways to customize your browser and tweak websites. The web isn’t a one-way, passive medium – you have the ability to remix websites you... Read More give a single website — or even the entire web — a dark look. These work by applying a CSS style. You’ll need the Stylish extension installed How To Fix Small Annoyances On The Web With Stylish [Firefox & Chrome] How To Fix Small Annoyances On The Web With Stylish [Firefox & Chrome] Web designers have an almost impossible job. They need to come up with one design that pleases everyone. When talking about a service like Gmail, used by countless millions of people all over the world,... Read More to use these scripts in Chrome, Firefox, or Opera.

Midnight Surfing Alternative is a user style that attempts to turn every web page you see to a dark theme. Of course, it won’t work perfectly on every site.

dark-user-style-theme-for-every-website

Dark Google Minimalist attempts to do the same thing, but only for Google. It won’t interfere with other websites.

Search userstyles.org for “Dark” to find dark themes for other websites.

dark-theme-for-google

You should now have a dark desktop, a dark web browser and even dark web pages. Check out our list of the best websites to find wallpapers Need A New Wallpaper? These 5 Awesome Sites Will Get You There Need A New Wallpaper? These 5 Awesome Sites Will Get You There Your choice of desktop wallpaper says a lot about who you are. So, if your wallpaper is an expression of who you are, where can you find wallpapers that fit your personality? Read More , if you need a new wallpaper, too.

Do you have any other favorite dark themes? Leave a comment and share your top picks!

  1. Joseph DiDario
    October 8, 2016 at 12:01 pm

    For Chrome, I prefer Morpheon Dark (Aero version), it still gives you transparency with your dark theme. Plus, if you use the Clover Explorer, you can also reuse the same theme there as well.

  2. Dax
    April 1, 2016 at 8:10 pm

    Check out Windowblinds for windows themes

    theme: flash on black is very dark and works well

  3. Lance Paolo Baldoza
    July 12, 2015 at 11:00 am

    i need a dark theme for windows 8.1 that doesn't turn the page color on microsoft word and ms excell, abisso 2014 didnt work too well so...

    I need other options, anybody there got a link?
    I would really appreciate it..

  4. Johann
    April 28, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Installing the latest version (2.7?) of the UltraUXThemePatcher on Windows 7 resulted in a Trojan.Gen.SMH.2 virus alert in SysRestore.dll. Same thing happened on uninstall.

  5. Marcos
    January 8, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    So many applications assume a white background, and they show, for example, dark grey fonts when using a black background theme. I have a lot of applications, and trying to change all their fonts in their own settings, even if all of them had the option, is too much work.

  6. Daniel
    October 28, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    It's so frustrating when I get that black '' High Contrast '' mini screen on my themes .
    How can I solve that ?

  7. Ganesh Babu
    September 9, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    very nice explanation thank you....

  8. Chris
    June 18, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    FT Deepdark for Firefox is a good dark theme. It makes pretty much everything black with a few light blue accents on active buttons. Also, within the Stylish addon, you can install the FT Deepdark style for Google, which is obviously made to go with the Firefox theme. It's all very nice.

  9. Benjamin L
    June 18, 2014 at 11:56 am

    I did everything in this article, it's like having a new pc, really chuffed. I used the Steam basic (non-aero) style for Windows 7.

  10. Toni-leigh D
    June 17, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Hey all, we're running our home pc (Windows 7) through our Samsung Smart LED 3D TV. Would those themes work well on there? I hardly use the pc because of the eye-strain I get (even with my glasses on).

  11. Abhi
    June 15, 2014 at 10:08 am
  12. Ahmed
    June 14, 2014 at 6:45 am

    High contrast themes are actually disigned for people who are color blind, and using a black backdrop on a lcd display might actually be worse for your eyes. This article reaks of bro-science, why not advertise something that actually works like f.lux?

    https://justgetflux.com/

    I garuntee you'll sleep better and have easier cognitive function at night with this than those dark themes.

  13. Ahmed
    June 14, 2014 at 6:45 am

    High contrast themes are actually disigned for people who are color blind, and using a black backdrop on a lcd display might actually be worse for your eyes. This article reaks of bro-science, why not advertise something that actually works like f.lux?

    https://justgetflux.com/

    I garuntee you'll sleep better and have easier cognitive function at night with this than those dark themes.

    • Scot
      May 1, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      Lighter color eyes (blue, green, etc...) tend to be more photophobic. Blue in my case. My eyes become easily strained in a well lit environment. I function better at night. Dark themes are a must.

  14. Scott
    June 13, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    It's nice to be able to have such options for personal comfort, but in my case all dark themes (for Windows, browsers, email clients) are *worse* for my aging eyes than a lighter theme. Never understood how people like dark themes for *reducing* eye strain. But, hey, if it works for you... :-)

    • Weyrleader
      June 14, 2014 at 1:31 am

      Each person's eyesight is uniquely different. In my case I have no irises and I'm VERY light sensitive. Dark themes are a MUST for me. Each person's mileage will vary though.

    • Weyrleader
      June 14, 2014 at 1:34 am

      Speaking of dark themes though. My only reason for not switching from Windoze to Linux is that I can't seem to find a dark theme that works with all apps (system tools included) on Linux. If I could get find one that works I'd switch in a heartbeat. Any ideas anyone?

    • thoth
      June 17, 2014 at 1:24 am

      Ubuntu Studio theme is one-search gtk2-engines, there are quite a few including high contrast-all small files, download them all with the gtk theme changer, and you should be all set.

  15. devesh kumar
    June 13, 2014 at 6:57 pm
  16. siddhu
    June 13, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    hacker vision is a good chrome extension for contrast viewing of sites, and if you dont find it good for a particular site, it lets you turn it off for that particular site

  17. deviant
    June 13, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    I like Base for Windows 8.1, Work Redux 8.1, and Space Blueberries 8.1. These are on Deviantart.

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