Scott Hanselman

Make the Visual Studio 2010 IDE colors look like Visual Studio 2008

May 14, '10 Comments [14] Posted in VS2010
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 Theme MenuPersonally, I like the new Visual Studio 2010 IDE colors but I got this comment recently from a helpful reader:

Why did the default colour theme for VS 2010 have to be so hideously ugly? Why put all that work into making the most advanced IDE ever, and then present it with a look that screams "we didn't care?" ... An official facelift patch would be nice, if just the 2008 look was applied to 2010.

Well, each to is own. Just like Henry Ford said, "You can have any color you want as long as it's black." Seriously, though, you can change the colors if it makes you happy. Folks feel strongly about their colors, like our friend above.

There's a free Visual Studio Color Theme Editor by Matthew Johnson that you can download and modify the VS IDE theme however you like. Once you've installed it (it's a VSIX - an extension to VS2010 - not an MSI, so don't be scared) there will be a new menu in VS called "theme."

Here's the built in themes. Remember these are VS themes, not Windows themes, so they won't affect Windows colors. Also, this is changing the colors of the IDE itself, not the text editor. You can choose your text styles at http://studiostyles.info.

Windows XP Silver

MvcMusicStore - Microsoft Visual Studio (5)

Windows Classic

MvcMusicStore - Microsoft Visual Studio (9)

Windows XP Emerald

MvcMusicStore - Microsoft Visual Studio (7)

Windows XP Autumn

 MvcMusicStore - Microsoft Visual Studio (6)

Windows XP Olive

MvcMusicStore - Microsoft Visual Studio (4) 

Windows XP Blue

MvcMusicStore - Microsoft Visual Studio (3)

Windows Aero

MvcMusicStore - Microsoft Visual Studio (2)

Windows XP Blue

 MvcMusicStore - Microsoft Visual Studio

Default Visual Studio 2010 Theme

 MvcMusicStore - Microsoft Visual Studio (8)

Have fun! You can make your own themes as well and import/export them. Enjoy.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Friday, May 14, 2010 6:51:14 PM UTC
Wow... what a great utility! Thanks for posting this one.
Mark Erikson
Friday, May 14, 2010 7:08:01 PM UTC
Pretty nice, but Wondered why there is no "Black" theme like Blend???
Friday, May 14, 2010 7:17:32 PM UTC
Hey Scott, I stopped using this because it appears to Bork the WF4 Designer...
Saturday, May 15, 2010 3:52:55 AM UTC
Yup scott, there should be a black theme. I really love the charm of Blend.
Nishit
Saturday, May 15, 2010 4:53:30 PM UTC
To all of you who want a black theme - there are plenty out there. I am currently using this one: http://www.nerdpad.com/visual-studio/visual-studio-2010-dark-expression-blend-color-theme
Tuesday, May 18, 2010 7:26:06 PM UTC
Emerald is AWESOME!
Thursday, May 20, 2010 5:02:15 AM UTC
Hey Scott,
I think you may also want to have a look at "Visual Studio 2010 Dark Expression Blend Color Theme".
http://www.nerdpad.com/visual-studio/visual-studio-2010-dark-expression-blend-color-theme

Here is how it looks: http://www.nerdpad.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/vs2010_expression_thumb.jpg

Those who use dark editor colors will love it - me included :)
Thursday, May 20, 2010 5:13:42 AM UTC
Hey Scott,
I think you may also want to have a look at "Visual Studio 2010 Dark Expression Blend Color Theme".
http://www.nerdpad.com/visual-studio/visual-studio-2010-dark-expression-blend-color-theme

Here is how it looks: http://www.nerdpad.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/vs2010_expression_thumb.jpg

Those who use dark editor colors will love it - me included :)
Monday, May 24, 2010 7:12:43 AM UTC

like yor site, for it looks serious and never provides useless info, Thx and wish your site better...
Wednesday, June 09, 2010 5:06:40 PM UTC
I prefer the preset and really like the new WPF UI - some of the themes like Emerald look terrible ...

Where do these two buttons (left to the minimize / maximize / close buttons, shown on all the screenshots) come from?
Wednesday, June 09, 2010 5:45:57 PM UTC
Ah, that's Ultramon from RealTimeSoft.
Monday, June 28, 2010 6:52:43 AM UTC
Scott,

The extension is not marked to work with the express versions? Is there any chance you can do that so that people with express version (like myself) can use it?

Eddie
Friday, November 12, 2010 3:53:53 AM UTC
2 things really bother me about the IDE. The first is, it takes 60 seconds on average to load on my workstation where Visual Studio 2008 takes around 3-5. The second is, none of the panels or tabs have borders. There's text floating in places, and I know it's a tab button because I've used Visual Studio since it's inception, but it doesn't look like a tab button until you click on the floating text. Finally, the fonts are hard to read. There's an addin to help address this and changing the default font back to Courier New helped but it's something I really expect to be solid out of the box. If I could reliably use VS2008 with the .Net Framework 4.0 I would. I'm very frustrated with VS2010 thus far. I'm praying for some of this to be addressed in SP1 (especially the performance issues) but I suspect I'll have to wait until the next full release.
Friday, November 12, 2010 3:54:41 AM UTC
P.S. (and rant aside) - I really enjoy your blog and its contents. :)
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.