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Dark themes are growing in popularity; from smartphone apps to computer operating systems, it’s harder than ever to find something that doesn’t provide some form of darkened offering.

Their benefits are easy to understand – less eyestrain 10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain 10 Dark Windows Themes & Skins To Reduce Eye Strain Do you struggle with headaches or irritated eyes? You may be dealing with eye strain. Computer screens can be glaringly bright, especially in the dark. Dark themes could be your free remedy. Read More , easier-to-read text, and well, they just look cool, don’t they?

Since its earliest days, Windows has let you customize a theme with your own color preferences The Dark Side of Windows 10: Set a Theme & Change Colors The Dark Side of Windows 10: Set a Theme & Change Colors Windows 10 is so bright, it can cause eyestrain. Setting a dark theme is a simple way to give your eyes a break. We show you how to theme Windows 10 and its most commonly... Read More – but what if you want someone to do the hard work for you?

Luckily, there are lots of awesome, ready-to-download dark themes out there, and more than enough to suit every taste and style. Here are five of the best:

How to Change the Theme

We’ve covered how to changes your Windows theme in the past, but here’s a quick refresher for anyone who’s forgotten.

change-theme

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First, either right-click on your desktop and select Personalize > Themes or head to Start > Settings > Personalization > Themes. Then choose Theme Settings and edit the necessary options.

1. Windows 10 Official Dark Theme

Microsoft has received criticism from some users for not including an official native dark theme. Yes, there are gaudy high-contrast options available, but there hasn’t been a pleasant, easy-on-the-eye option.

That’s all about to change with the Windows 10 anniversary update Windows 10 Anniversary Update Due in July & These Are Its Best Features Windows 10 Anniversary Update Due in July & These Are Its Best Features You will love the Windows 10 Anniversary Update! The second big upgrade to Windows 10 since its launch in July 2015 is expected this summer. Here we highlight the most exciting features. Read More .

The update, which is scheduled to be released on August 2, will see a host of new features become available – including a system-wide dark theme. It has been possible to activate the theme via a registry hack 5 Windows 10 Registry Tweaks to Improve & Unlock Features 5 Windows 10 Registry Tweaks to Improve & Unlock Features The registry editor is the only way to enable some of Windows 10's hidden features. Here we'll show you easy tweaks like enabling the dark theme or hiding folders. Read More for some time, but it will finally become available through the Theme Settings menu.

dark-windows-theme

If you can’t wait until August, follow these steps:

  1. Open Run (either right click on Start > Run or press Windows key + R).
  2. Type RegEdit and press Enter.
  3. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Themes\Personalize.
  4. Create a new DWORD value called AppsUseLightTheme with a value of 0.
  5. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Themes\Personalize.
  6. Again, create a new DWORD value called AppsUseLightTheme with a value of 0.
  7. Restart your computer

Either delete the new registry entries or change their values to 1 to re-enable the light theme.

2. Dark / Grey Windows 10 Theme – High Contrast

The “Dark / Grey Windows 10 – High Contrast” theme is available for download from DeviantArt.

Unlike some of the other themes on this list, it can be installed without using any third-party tools or editing any system files – thus making it great for users who want a hassle-free option.

dark-theme-high-contrast

The developer warns that due to Microsoft’s limited dark theme options he was forced to make it a high contrast theme. You’ll have to check whether or not it suits your needs.

To start using it, download the file and place it in [USERNAME]AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes.

3. Penumbra 10

Before proceeding, be aware that this is a Windows 10-only theme. If you’re reading this article trying to find themes for Windows 7 or 8, this won’t work for you.

It’s been designed to use neutral dark colors, so there won’t be any jarring contrasts or unpleasant colors anywhere on your screen.

penumbra-theme

The installation process is more complicated than the previous options. Before installing anything, make sure you’ve downloaded these three essential tools:

To get the theme up and running, firstly install the Open Sans font (included in the theme download). Then install UXThemePatcher, and finally, Ribbon Disabler.

Next, disable the ribbon using Ribbon Disabler, then move the contents of the theme’s Visual Style folder to C:\Windows\Resources\Themes.

Lastly, select the theme in Theme Settings.

(You might need to reboot your computer before getting it to work.)

You can further customize this theme by changing the Taskbar’s color and opacity. The tool is available for download on the theme’s DeviantArt page.

4. Nocturnal W10

Once again, this is a Windows 10-only theme. Despite sharing the same name as its Windows 8 counterpart, it will not work on older versions of the operating system.

noctural-theme

This is arguably the most complex to install. You will need four third-party apps before installing the main theme. They are:

Firstly, open OldNewExplorer and check the boxes next to Use Command Bar and Hide Up Button. Next, disable Show Status Bar in Classic Shell and import the includes XML file by following Classic Start Menu Settings > Backup > Load from XML.

Finally, install the Sans Semibold font (included in theme download) and the actual theme.

5. Ades Theme

Rather than going for total darkness, Ades Theme uses various tones of gray and introduces some color.

While it still requires a third-party tool, it’s easier than both Nocturnal and Penumbra to install. You will still need UXThemePatcher, but can otherwise download the file and put it straight into C:\Windows\Resources\Themes.

To make it look even better, install the developer’s associated icon pack. That’ll let you apply the cool icons you see in the image below.

ades-theme

Note – this theme will only work with Windows 10 Threshold 2 An Insider Review of the Windows 10 Fall Update An Insider Review of the Windows 10 Fall Update The Windows 10 Fall Update contains many minor improvements, a few feature updates, and a bunch of new settings. We show you what to expect and which default settings you might want to adjust. Read More (build 10586) and later.

A Word of Warning

Some of these themes make significant changes to your system files. As such, always create a system restore point How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 How System Restore & Factory Reset Work in Windows 10 Space wasted to a recovery partition is a thing of the past. System Restore and Factory Reset have improved in Windows 10. We show you how it works. Read More and backup your work The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide The Ultimate Windows 10 Data Backup Guide Windows 10 makes data backups effortless. We have summarized every native backup, restore, recovery, and repair option we could find on Windows 10. Use our simple tips and never despair over lost data again! Read More before attempting to install them.

I hope this list has given you a small taste of the different ways you can customize your Windows computer. There are hundreds of themes out there How to Get the Aero Glass Theme on Windows 10 How to Get the Aero Glass Theme on Windows 10 It was one of the most requested features from Windows Insiders. Still, Microsoft decided not to add Aero Glass back to Windows 10, after removing it in Windows 8. Here's how you can get it... Read More , each of which will appeal to different people.

I’d love to hear which dark themes you use – do you prefer sticking with ones that don’t have complex installation processes, or are you happy to tweak everything in the name of customization?

As always, you can let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

  1. James Hanson
    July 22, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    I'm really hoping one of these days MS just lets you fully customize the color of your OS. I don't see how it couldn't be, it's not like it's overly complex.

  2. Abhisar Sarmandal
    July 22, 2016 at 3:59 am

    Thanks for this. I wish MS came up with a gray theme like Ades Theme. I don't like to install third-party themes because in my experience, they don't play too well with the overall look-and-feel of the OS. And I'm required to disable the explorer-ribbon that I use often. Also I have StartIsBack installed that I'm not sure would gel with the new theme. I use Aero-Lite - the "hidden theme" built-in in Windows 10 that can be activated with WinAero Tweaker. In my opinion, it's the best option, at present.

  3. Howard Blair
    July 21, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    I, for one, prefer Sagorpirbd's Vista Theme Final and UxStyle (with a tweak, UxStyle will still work on build 10586). That, and moving to a black highlight a la Vista Aero, and GlassMyFox, is a near perfect Windows 7 look (active minimize/maximize/close buttons on Firefox still have a "flat" look).

    • janet
      August 3, 2016 at 11:06 am

      These themes are awesome and similar to my laptop.

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