Frequently Asked Question

How to Use a Dark Theme in Windows 10
Last Updated 3 years ago

Windows offers a setting named Dark Mode that applies a dark theme to apps you get from the Windows Store. It doesn’t affect most desktop apps, but we’ve got some other solutions for those. Here’s how to get your whole desktop (or as much as possible) looking dark.

Enable Dark Mode for Windows 10 Settings and Apps

To enable Dark Mode, head to Settings > Personalization > Colors. Scroll down and select the “Dark” option under the “Choose your app mode” section.
The Settings application itself immediately turns dark, as will many other “Universal Windows Platform” applications (those you get from the Windows Store). However, it’s up to each developer to support Dark Mode, and many do not. And, as we mentioned before, this option doesn’t affect most desktop applications. Those remain white. A few desktop applications, including File Explorer and Paint.NET, do respect this setting—but most don’t.

Enable Dark Mode in Microsoft Edge

The Microsoft Edge web browser included with Windows 10 also has a dark theme. However, its dark theme option is entirely separate from the Dark Mode option in Settings for some reason.
To activate the dark theme in Edge, click the menu button on the toolbar (the icon with three dots at the far right side), and then select the “Settings” option. In the “Choose A Theme” drop-down menu, choose the “Dark” option.

Note that the title bar, toolbars, and menus for Edge turn dark, but web pages themselves remain unaffected. You’ll need a browser extension like Turn Off the Lights to make the whole web dark.
You can also set your theme separately in the Groove music player, Movies & TV video player, and Photos apps. However, they’ll use your system theme setting by default. You don’t have to change the setting manually, as you do with Edge.

Enable the Dark Theme in Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office also contains a dark theme that isn’t enabled by default and must be manually enabled.
To choose the dark theme, open an Office application like Word or Excel and head to File > Options. On the “General” tab, look for the click the “Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office” section and set the “Office Theme” drop-down there to the “Black” option.

Your theme choice applies to all Office applications. So, if you set this option in Word and later open Excel, Excel should also use a dark theme.

Install Dark Themes for Chrome, Firefox, and Other Applications

Many other Windows desktop applications have their own theming options and engines. For example, to use a dark theme in Google Chrome, you’ll need to head to Google’s Chrome themes site and install a dark theme. Firefox includes a built-in dark theme you can enable.
For example, we installed the Morpheon Dark theme for Chrome. It makes Chrome look much more at home on a dark-themed desktop.
Some websites, including YouTube and Gmail, let you choose a dark theme for that website. For other websites, you’ll need to install a browser extension that turns the whole web dark.

You’ll have to check to see whether the applications you frequently use offer their own theme options.

Enable a Dark Theme for Windows Desktop Applications

The real problem with the new Dark Mode setting is that it doesn’t affect the Windows desktop theme at all. Desktop applications like File Explorer continue using the normal, light theme.
Windows has a built-in dark theme for desktop applications, but it probably isn’t ideal. To enable it, head to Settings > Ease of Access > High Contrast. On the right, enable the “Turn on High Contrast” option and set the “Choose a Theme” dropdown to the “High Contrast Black” setting. Click “Apply” to save the setting.

Setting this high contrast theme makes most desktop applications show a dark background. However, they don’t look all that great. High contrast themes are an accessibility feature designed to increase contrast, so the screen is easier to read and understand. They don’t look nearly as slick as a modern dark theme would.

If you want a slicker dark theme for other desktop applications, you’ll have to resort to a third-party app. 

Like many parts of Windows 10, Dark Mode feels a bit incomplete. Microsoft could include a dark theme option for Windows desktop applications, and the interface would look more cohesive. For now, though, this is what we’ve got. At least Microsoft has made the dark theme apply to File Explorer.

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