10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain

Computer screens can be glaringly bright, especially in the dark. Try reducing eye strain 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   10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain

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.

patch uxtheme dll   10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain

 

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   10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain

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   10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain

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   10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain

Steam VS for Windows 8.1 uses dark grays that match how Valve’s Steam gaming service looks. There’s a version for Windows 7, too.

steam vs for windows 8.1 dark gray theme   10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain

We’ve covered more Windows 7 themes and great Windows 8 themes 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   10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain

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

dark theme for firefox   10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain

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

opera dark theme   10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain

Web Styles

User styles can go beyond theming your desktop and the applications running on it. You can have user styles 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 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   10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain

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   10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain

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, if you need a new wallpaper, too.

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

14 Comments - Write a Comment

0 votes
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deviant

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

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siddhu

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

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devesh kumar

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Scott

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… :-)

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Weyrleader

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.

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Weyrleader

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?

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thoth

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.

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Ahmed

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.

0 votes
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Ahmed

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.

0 votes
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Toni-leigh D

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).

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Benjamin L

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.

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Chris

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.

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Ganesh Babu

very nice explanation thank you….

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