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Is there an easy way to apply a dark theme to my excel windows: black or gray background on all cells, light text.

Ideally, this would be just a theme/view that could be applied, rather than actually changing the colors in the document itself.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes there is. This can be done in both Excel 2007 & 2010. I have 2010, so to change it go to


These options are available there;

enter image description here

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Hi Charlie, I am on 2007 but I found the exact same menu you describe. Unfortunately, it only changes the color scheme of the surrounding window (frame, menu, tool ribbon), not the color scheme of the cells themselves. Thus I am still looking at a white screen. The goal is something easier on the eyes, the excel equivalent of the dark themes prevalent in many popular text editors, like this one for vim: – Jonah May 11 '12 at 17:56
Have you tried Quick Styles? You should be able to modify and save one to your liking. Apply, create, or remove a cell style. – CharlieRB May 14 '12 at 1:34
That will work, thanks. – Jonah May 18 '12 at 3:30

I would do as @CharlieRB suggests and additionally set a small background image, any color, or image that works for you. You can make this a default template as well if you like. Not sure how printing will work for you, but you could set a custom view to deal with printing, if that is an issue.

Page Layout>Background enter image description here

Create and select a small image

enter image description here

enter image description here

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datatoo, yeah something like that would be fine. how do i set the background image as you suggest? i want to do it at the theme, rather than the document, level. thanks. – Jonah May 13 '12 at 6:48
Well it doesn't appear the theme level will allow that. It does seem like themes are limited in that way. But setting a default template with a small dark image for the background works. Just not the way you want I guess. Why they would allow altering of everything but the base background is beyond me. – datatoo May 13 '12 at 20:57

ok so i just figured out a solution, but it comes with drawbacks. you can use windows aero to change the default color of all programs which will do exactly what you're asking for, but will affect most standard programs as well. so here's what you do:

  1. right click on desktop
  2. select 'personalize'
  3. select 'window color' button
  4. select 'advanced appearance settings'
  5. in the box that opens look for a box that says 'active window'
  6. click in the white space of that box
  7. just below said box it will have a drop-down menu titled 'Color 1'
  8. select this drop-down menu and choose any color you'd like

This will change the background color of excel, word, etc. Hope this helps.

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