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.

10 Answers 10


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

  • 19
    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: hans.fugal.net/vim/colors/desert.html
    – Jonah
    May 11, 2012 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, 2012 at 1:34
  • 2
    Looks like this isn't possible with Excel 2016 :( Nov 7, 2020 at 14:49
  • In recent versions of Excel, you can now find the equivalent setting in "File">"Options">"General">"Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office">"Office Theme".
    – adamency
    Nov 23, 2021 at 0:39

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

Create and select a small image

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • 2
    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, 2012 at 6:48
  • 1
    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, 2012 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.

  • This is assuming everyone using the Office suite is on Windows... Dec 21, 2017 at 18:26
  • Cannot follow these steps on Windows 10, perhaps the menus have changed.
    – Nagev
    Jan 28 at 14:11

So, this is not my answer and I found this 'workaround' from a reddit user u/towndown8. He posted this image, and I am posting the link. Hopefully, it helps people as it helped me.


this is the original thread I got it from: https://www.reddit.com/r/excel/comments/b9fo97/dark_mode_question_how_to_get_the_worksheet_to/


Office 365 now has dark mode for Mojave OS on Mac. It just came out today for the Insiders Fast track updates. I've been looking forward to this for years.

I don't prefer the insider's updates, because I don't want to test Excel for Microsoft. Also, the updates come too often, disrupting my work flow.

Can't wait!


I have managed to get my Excel, Word and Notepad to all show light gray background by default by changing the Windows Theme, which works well for me. I have windows 10 and Office 2016 and have been struggling with this for a long time. I had to create a new theme and change the Window Color to gray.


I'm trying out a macro-based approach - have recently written this: https://stu0292.github.io/ExcelDarkMode

The idea being a personal workbook macro (so it runs for any workbook, including non .xlsx) that toggles the colours on the cell styles.

It's not perfect but feedback/contributions welcome.


For those who are writing about Options and General Settings, you haven't read the question properly. You're offering application theme ideas. The OP is asking for the cells themselves to be dark mode.

A solution is here: How to make MS Excel cells display dark background with white text instead of the reverse which is default?

if you're okay with macro-enabled Excel documents.

Example Output - Screenshot

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I use the following Excel VBA code to toggle all sheets in a workbook between Dark Mode and Light (default) Mode. The code uses the background color in cell A1 of each sheet to determine how to toggle the colors.

Sub darkModeToggle()
Dim sh As Worksheet, r As Range, dark As Boolean
Dim borderTypes As Variant, border As Variant
borderTypes = Array(xlEdgeLeft, xlEdgeTop, xlEdgeBottom, _
              xlEdgeRight, xlInsideVertical, xlInsideHorizontal)
For Each sh In ThisWorkbook.Worksheets
  Set r = sh.Range("A1") 'toggle color based on A1 of each sheet
  With sh.Cells
    If r.Interior.ThemeColor = xlThemeColorDark1 Then dark = True
      If dark Then
        .Interior.ThemeColor = xlThemeColorLight1 'cell color
        .Font.ThemeColor = xlThemeColorDark1      'text color
        .Interior.ThemeColor = xlThemeColorDark1
        .Font.ThemeColor = xlThemeColorLight1
      End If
      For Each border In borderTypes              'border color

        .Borders(border).TintAndShade = -0.14996795556505
  End With
Next sh
End Sub

The result looks like this: enter image description here

I wasn't able to figure out a way to change the IDE colors using code, so I just do it manually using Tools>Options>Editor Format. The values for the above image are:

enter image description here

And the Light (Default) Mode values are:

enter image description here


Yes, you can change the color from the theme. Go to File and click below "option" and general seetings.

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