The Dark Side of Windows 10: Set a Theme & Change Colors
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If you’re happy with the dark theme on your Windows 7 or Windows 8 machine, you might be hesitant about Windows 10. The theming in Windows 10 is pretty light, which a lot of people feel causes additional eye strain 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 .

While Microsoft has yet to implement a system-wide switch for turning on a dark theme The Best Windows 10 Dark Themes for Your Eyes The Best Windows 10 Dark Themes for Your Eyes Windows 10 has its own dark theme now. But try these other Windows dark theme customizations too and prevent eye strain. Read More , there are steps you can take to darken some of your everyday apps and other parts like the taskbar. Here we show you exactly how to get the darkest Windows 10 possible without having to be an expert.

The Darkest Office Theme is Gray

If you are subscribed to Office 365 An Introduction to Office 365: Should You Buy Into the New Office Business Model? An Introduction to Office 365: Should You Buy Into the New Office Business Model? Office 365 is a subscription based package that offers access to the latest desktop Office suite, Office Online, cloud storage, and premium mobile apps. Does Office 365 provide enough value to be worth the money? Read More , you should have the newest versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and a number of other Office apps on your computer. (If not, you can install them from your account.)

By default, these apps are pretty blindingly white, but luckily, Microsoft has implemented an easy way to darken them a bit (even if you can’t get to pure black).

First, open up any of your Office apps. We’ll demonstrate this using Word, but you can make the change in any Office app, and the same steps should apply across all of them.


Then select File in the upper left.


Select Account at the bottom of the menu on the left.


Under Office Theme, select Dark Gray from the drop-down menu.


As you can see above, the Dark Gray theme isn’t life-changing, but it does make the background around the paper a bit darker and makes the document title at the top and the scroll bar more visible.

Start Menu and Taskbar Are Black by Default

Since these are the main elements that you’re going to see and interact with every day, how they look is relatively important. Thankfully, Microsoft has a good number of options for how you can change them around.


To get to these settings, click on the Windows logo in the lower-left corner of your desktop.


Then click on Settings.


Select Personalization.


Select Colors.


Here, you’ll want to make sure the first option, Automatically pick an accent color from my backgroundis turned off. Then a grid of colors should appear. Choose the darkest gray option.


For the next two options, also make sure that those are switched off.


The result should be a nearly-black dark gray taskbar and Start menu with grey icons. That’s as simple and dark as it’s going to get.

Edge Browser Has a Black Theme

Using Microsoft’s newest browser How to Set Up Microsoft Edge, the Default Browser in Windows 10 How to Set Up Microsoft Edge, the Default Browser in Windows 10 Microsoft's new Internet browser Edge made its first appearance in Windows 10 Insider Preview. It's still rough around the edges, but sleek and fast. We show you how to migrate and set it up. Read More specifically designed for Windows 10? Lucky you, because it has a built-in dark theme.


Simply open Edge, navigate to the three-dot button in the top right, and choose Settings at the bottom of the drop-down menu.


Under Choose a theme, simply select Dark, and you’re good to go.


This dark theme is actually completely black with dark gray accents, and given Edge’s modern aesthetic, it looks quite svelte.

Google Chrome Supports Third-Party Themes

Still stuck on Chrome? We can’t say we blame you. It is a productivity beast How To Turn Google Chrome Into A Productivity Beast How To Turn Google Chrome Into A Productivity Beast The Internet has made us more productive than ever before, and the browser is the gateway to all that productivity. Chrome's many extensions and apps can help you turn it into a productivity beast. Read More , after all. So even if you manage to darken all the other apps and elements in Windows 10, it would be kind of pointless if your browser was still super white.

Thankfully, Chrome users have access to a wide variety of themes in the Chrome Web Store to alter their browser. My favorite dark theme is simply titled Dark Theme and is made by mausx3.


Above you can see Chrome without any theme.


And this is what Chrome looks like with Dark Theme installed. For added effect, make your default search engine Blackle. It performs a Google search just like normal, but it uses a black background instead of white.

High-Contrast Mode Turns Windows Black

If you’re more concerned with having a black theme than you are with having a pretty theme, high-contrast mode is for you.

This method certainly isn’t preferable for most, but it does offer a dark mode with very clear screen elements for the visually impaired. See for yourself.


Above is the Settings app with the default theme.


And this is the Settings app in high-contrast mode.

To achieve this look, simply go into the Settings app and select Personalization as we’ve gone over already in this article.


Then you’ll want to navigate to Themes and then Theme Settings.


From there, you can enable high-contrast mode. To get back, simply return to the same place and choose one of Windows 10’s default themes.

Registry Hack Adds a Stylish Black Theme

This last part should probably only be attempted if you know what the Windows Registry Editor What Is the Windows Registry and How Do I Edit It? What Is the Windows Registry and How Do I Edit It? If you need to edit the Windows registry, making a few quick changes is easy. Let's learn how to work with the registry. Read More is. Experimenting with the registry can really mess up your computer, though what we’re doing here is relatively safe. Just remember that we’re not responsible in case you manage to damage your computer.

That being said, this registry hack does allow you to theme the Settings app, Windows Store, and a few other System apps completely black, which is fantastic. To do this, simply download this ZIP Folder and double-click the file called enable-dark-theme.reg.


You may need to restart for the changes to take effect, but for me, the changes were instant. Above, you can see the dark Settings app.


And this is the dark Windows Store. To undo any of these changes, simply go into the ZIP folder and double-click enable-light-theme.reg to return everything to normal.

How Do You Theme Windows 10?

Dark themes really can be an eye-saver. If you’ve got other devices that you want to tweak, you may want to have a look at these Linux themes, Android themes, and even Mac OS X themes. Finally, these Windows 10 desktop themes 10 Best Windows 10 Themes for Every Desktop 10 Best Windows 10 Themes for Every Desktop A new Windows 10 theme gives your computer a fresh look for free. We show you the best Windows themes and how to apply them. Read More feature dark and colored themes.

But we’d like to hear from you. What methods do you use for theming Windows 10? How have you managed to achieve the perfect dark look? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Kevin Chadwick
    June 8, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    I gave up on Win7 having even replaced the theme engine itself as there were always some apps of windows that came up in bright white which can actually be worse when everything is dark. Some one go back in time and make all paper black will you! I used a program called negative on Win7 but on Windows 10 i use the magnifiers invert option as the performance issues seem to be avoidable or not present on Win 10. However the win 10 theme is less consistently light, like android 5 so the invert option is not as consistent but still the most consistent option. I also used the open source gimp program to invert my background image and save it too so passers by don't notice my desktop being odd.

  2. m. smith
    June 3, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    The constant gray text with Windows 10 drives me crazy! I am not using ink, so why can't I have black text on everything??? I hate the way 10 controls everyone and the choices of themes is very limited and very "hip" but hard as everything to read--much eye strain!
    Thanks for those who are agreeing with this in their posts!!

  3. Anonymous
    May 17, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    I like to use themes from Microsoft. Get different pics, sounds and color is just interesting. I have tied the different options in settings but truthfully it simple makes a mess of the screens. The preview screen is not presenting the start menu and start screen properly. When clicking the windows button the jump list has white text. Selecting All Apps I can barely see the icons and can't see/read the black text descriptions.

    One HUGH problem with the themes is on the start menu the text is black. Anyone know where the text color can be altered? Regardless of background color (very bad colors) I want the text to be white.

    My two cents worth

    • CR
      June 3, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      If you do the registry hack method, it adds a Dark/Light App toggle in personalize. Then you choose whichever color you like. My app names have all stayed white, with black background and dark blue accents. Looks pretty good honestly.

  4. Bob_WA
    April 3, 2016 at 10:02 am

    Microsoft's Settings / Personalization / Colors look like the bargain bin at a dime store, the colors nobody else wanted! But I guess that's just me.

  5. Jari Hollsten
    January 27, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    When I find a theme that resembles Win7, then I may (or may not) upgrade to 10. The flat anemic look is just ugly.

    • Anonymous
      July 22, 2016 at 2:39 am

      WindowBlinds isn't free, but you can do just about anything with it. Pretty sure you can even add transparency back to windows.

  6. erebus
    January 25, 2016 at 1:22 am

    The colour scheme on win10 makes it impossible to see scroll bars or other slightly gray coloured alteration.
    How any developer can be this incompetent is a mystery to me -.-
    it’s amazing how we constantly see the biggest firms having the most talentless monkeys doing their designs, because they simply been there so long no one dares to question them, much less fire them for their complete incompetence in their jobs.

    Btw the only way to fix it on win10 is to have your own CSS which you can overlay on the win10’s -.-
    Which is a freaking hassle for those who know how, and impossible for those that doesn’t.
    Seriously F*** win10 and their designer team.

    • Aybee
      April 18, 2016 at 12:12 am


      Thank you for saying that. Here you can check the scrollbar contrast. Enter f0f0f0 and cdcdcd. It fails every of the 6 tests. How stupid is that?

  7. George
    January 8, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    I need GREY background for EVERYTHING. especially explorer background. the enable dark theme only changed a few things, maybe I have to restart.. dunno. but I miss the ability to customize all colors.

  8. Jim Hessin
    January 1, 2016 at 7:57 am

    One thing that should be noted when using Windows High Contrast mode - all menu selections disappear until they are selected! It makes navigating menus that you are unfamiliar with impossible!

    This makes no sense if the objective is "high contrast" all text should be a bright color when the background is dark, but that simply isn't the case.

  9. S_S
    December 12, 2015 at 1:22 am

    Why don't they just have a color picker/color wheel thing for the background color of the display? The options are terrible - no neutral light grey which is always my preference. Is there a way to change or hack this to add more color options?

  10. Anonymous
    December 8, 2015 at 7:00 am

    I would love to remove that purple from the window borders and make all
    text white! that blue text on web pages is hard to read any ideas? thanks for this post!

  11. Anonymous
    August 14, 2015 at 11:52 am

    You can also use WinAero to set custom title bar colors.

  12. Anonymous
    August 14, 2015 at 11:49 am

    I would like to be able to change size of title bar ~ too big for me!

    • Anonymous
      August 16, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      WinAero does that as well.

  13. Anonymous
    August 13, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    UXTheme Patcher now has a version that works under Windows 10. I've yet to find the *perfect* Vista/Black theme, but I'm still looking. (The most awful part of Win 8.x was the flat, plain theme; this helps).

    The newest version WinAero Tweaker is supposed to let you colorize the white titlebars on Windows 10 Modern apps (which are still white even with a user theme), but I've yet to test it out.

    Unfortunately, it's harder to fix Office 2013; you can add a space to the end of every Menu item *but* File, to get mixed case, but a black theme is still forthcoming. The color scheme is either hardcoded in a binary, or hidden somewhere in an XML file.

  14. Anonymous
    August 13, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Very well thought-out and constructed article. Much appreciated!