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Posted 20 Apr 2010


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Visual Studio Coding Themes

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22 Apr 2010CPOL5 min read
Visual Studio Coding Themes


I have been working on many IDEs. We apply themes everywhere in our websites, CMSs, Enterprise Applications even in OSs like XP, Vista, then why not in IDEs.

I have been working on it and below is the result of what I found over the internet.

Let me quote one nice sentence by Scott Hanselman.

"It's surprising how changing your theme (fonts, colors, etc.) can re-energize me when I'm having trouble with some problem or motivation."


This article is not development/logic writing article. It is to simply apply themes to Visual Studio IDEs.

I have studied some IDEs like Dreamweaver, Visual Studio, Eclipse, etc., currently only Visual Studio has the functionality to support Customization or apply setting to set custom skins for the editor.

How to Apply Themes to Visual Studio

You simply need to import it in Visual Studio. Luckily, there is a simple Visual Studio wizard to walk you through the process and make a backup of your current settings should you want to go back to what you have now.

The wizard is found under the Tools menu and the option is called Import and Export Settings. In 3 simple steps, you chose import settings, save your theme (or skip), and then browse out to find your downloaded theme and apply it.

It is strictly recommended to backup the default theme before applying any custom themes.


Oren Ellenbogen's Dark Scheme

A lot of the darker schemes like Oren's don't use a True Black, but an "off black." His theme is very low contrast and uses muted, relaxing colors.

Image 1

Mike "Blowmage" Moore's Ruby Blue

This is a low-contrast calm schema, but operators and numbers have a little "pop" to them.

Image 2

Vibrant Borland by Mawi

This one bring backs good memories of writing Borland C++ with OWL and Turbovision, with a little Norton Commander thrown in for fun.

Image 3


One of the few light-colored themes, Jeff also uses a custom font to make 0 and O stand out. Note that the white background is more of a paper-colored off-white.

Image 4

Dave Reed's Jedi Scheme

Dave's schema uses a complete black, and a neon blue. A little intense, but much higher contrast.

Image 5

Damien Guard's Humane

This earthy theme includes small details like smart fonts and italics.

Image 6

Tomas Restrepo's Themes

Tomas has done a huge amount of work in this space. You can get seven of his themes here. He's even got a tool to port color schemes from Visual Studio to SQL Management Studio.

Desert Nights

This theme uses the greatest range of colors outside of the Vibrant Ink theme, and approaches, but doesn't reach, a number of primary colors.

Image 7

Garden of Eden

Green, Kermit-green, sea-green, they are all here in this blue-green theme.

Image 8


Initially similar to many dark themes, this one uses complementary colors to provide contrast between identifiers and keywords, string literals and comments.

Image 9


A more cheerful dark theme that includes italics for string literals and brighter neons for keywords.

Image 10

Moria Alternate

This uses Deja Vu Sans Mono as its font and uses a lot more neutrals and grays outside of the keyword space.

Image 11

Brad Wilson Dark Visual Studio

A muted, low-contrast theme with blues and purples. Even the yellow is relaxed.

Image 12

Martin Plante (slimCODE)

Martin likes small text, no ClearType to take advantage of crisp LCD screens. Rather than committing to blue or black, he goes for a navy-gray-blue background.

Image 13

John Lam's Vibrant Ink Port

John's trying for a straight port of Textmate's famous Vibrant Ink. This is a sharp, bright, neo-classic theme. Note his use of Monaco.

Image 14

Rob Conery - Textmate

This is Rob's take on Vibrant Ink, added Consolas as the font, some bolding, and lowers the contrast a smidge.

Image 15

Blue Back

With Blue background.

Image 16

Viko Black

Black with eye catching colors.

Image 17

White on Black

It's the simple white-on-black. It uses blue class names, purple strings, orange key words, and yellow highlighting. One of the things that some miss is the snippet fields. I've ensure that the fields are white on green and the dependant fields are green highlights.

Image 18

Sean Biefield's Twilight Theme

The theme is based off of the textmate twilight theme. I was going for a low contrast theme that is easy on the eyes. I have tried the Vibrant Ink theme and it is too abrasive for me. My goal was to make warnings and errors blatantly obvious and distinguish classes from interfaces. I also love how the comments are dark and do not draw attention, I am not a big fan of comments. I think the code along with BDD tests should be self-explanatory of what is going on.

Image 19

Create Your Own Theme

You can also create your own theme for Visual Studio Coding. Just go to Visual Studio IDE, go to Tools menu and select Options. In Environment, select Fonts and Colors and change the settings that suit your interests. Save and Export the settings, that's it.


I am also interested in applying themes to other IDEs like Dreamweaver, Eclipse, etc. Hope they will provide for such features in their future releases.

Create Your Own

You can create your own Visual Studio coding themes from the following site. It is very good site to create using your own imagination and it also provides settings to download after creation. Several themes are already there, created by other users.

If any of the above links is dead, you can recreate the same theme with the following site: Studio Styles.

Hope you all enjoy it.


  • 20th April, 2010: Initial post
  • 23rd April, 2010: Article updated


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

Comments and Discussions

QuestionCredits missing Pin
BrainCrumbz Team19-Dec-14 0:09
BrainCrumbz Team19-Dec-14 0:09 
Questionchange control Pin
OsiKosi28-Oct-14 12:33
professionalOsiKosi28-Oct-14 12:33 
GeneralI use Vibrant Ink for years Pin
Bigdeak18-Jul-10 22:57
Bigdeak18-Jul-10 22:57 
GeneralA handy list Pin
SohjSolwin27-Apr-10 4:15
SohjSolwin27-Apr-10 4:15 
GeneralNice Pin
Pranay Rana20-Apr-10 21:28
professionalPranay Rana20-Apr-10 21:28 
GeneralMike "Blowmage" Moore's Ruby Blue Pin
J. Eric Vaughan III20-Apr-10 9:49
J. Eric Vaughan III20-Apr-10 9:49 
GeneralRe: Mike "Blowmage" Moore's Ruby Blue Pin
Peace ON22-Apr-10 23:36
Peace ON22-Apr-10 23:36 
QuestionPer-project themes and/or focus colors? Pin
supercat920-Apr-10 5:53
supercat920-Apr-10 5:53 
AnswerRe: Per-project themes and/or focus colors? Pin
peterchen23-Apr-10 23:12
peterchen23-Apr-10 23:12 

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