I like the look of Sublime Text 2 but I prefer using Notepad++ as my default text editor. Is there a way to make the notepad++ application itself dark? More specifically, I would like to change the region highlighted in red to a dark background with a light grey text.

I am on Win 8 (x64).

Thanks in advance!

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6 Answers 6


Update 2021-06

On 2021-06-07, Notepad++ v8 was released, with dark mode support. (On 2021-06-17, v8.1 followed it with some improvements). From the main menu, select Settings -> Preferences -> Dark Mode. You can then change the default selection from "Light Mode" to "Dark Mode" or "Follow Windows".

Disclaimer: I haven't actually tried v8 yet, but I assume that the native dark mode support is far superior to modifying and building from source, as discussed in the remainder of this answer.

The themes, as you guessed, can't do this (they only handle what's in the text editing window). To change the colors you'll have to change color values in the source code (download from the site or GitHub).

  1. Extract the file
  2. Find the elements whose color you'd like to change, and change them. All colors I've seen are denoted RGB(xx,xx,xx)
  3. Rebuild (see /readmeFirst.txt once you've extracted)

I've just glanced at these files, but I'm definitely going to work at this a little tomorrow and I don't mind giving you my results once I've solved it.

Anyway, what I've seen at a glance is that you'll want to look in

  • /PowerEditor/src/ScitillaComponent/DocTabView (I think)
  • /PowerEditor/src/WinControls/TabBar
  • /PowerEditor/src/WinControls/ToolBar

That's all I noticed that might be of interest so far, but again, I'll look at it more tomorrow and get back to you.

Edit: the official makefile will give some errors, because /PowerEditor/src/Parameters.h references files incorrectly. Here are the two I fixed so far:

#include "TinyXml/tinyXmlA/tinyxmlA.h" (line 33)
#include "TinyXml/tinyxml.h" (line 37)

Change those lines in Parameters.h to what I've written to deal with them. Don't worry about the warnings ("extra tokens after #endif") - they're just comments.

Edit 2: I'm using VS2012, in which the build process results in numerous errors. I won't post them here unless someone eventually asks about them, in which case I'm happy to do so. I should have a working build up soon!

Edit 3: It seems Notepad++'s provided VS project file was created with an earlier version of Visual Studio, and in updating the files, Visual Studio 2012 creates many problems, so if you go that route, use VS2010.

Edit 4: I didn't make it obvious in Edit 3, but I gave up after realizing just how difficult it was going to be to get around the VS errors. I imagine the code has changed significantly since I wrote this answer as well; unfortunately I didn't note the version, but I'm sure it was the latest available at time of writing this answer, which, according to "All versions", was probably either 6.4.1 or 6.4.2. However, I hope this is a useful starting point for anyone else who reads (this answer has received consistent attention since writing).

  • Thanks so much trojansdestroy, I will take a look and give a try. Jul 10, 2013 at 23:59
  • 1
    I've done some work on it now, and I think I've changed the correct color values for the tab bar. However, using the npp-provided Makefile, encountered some errors. See above.
    – Trojan
    Jul 11, 2013 at 21:55
  • Folder structure seems to have changed between 6.4.2 and 6.6.9, though file names still seem accurate Sep 22, 2014 at 22:22
  • Did you ever upload a working build online? I've never built an app from source before and this is really confusing. Mar 13, 2015 at 1:43
  • 4
    Be great to fork the original source and update the theme manager to be able to colourise these elements and do a pull request.
    – rollsch
    Jan 21, 2017 at 6:11

Notepad++ 8.2 - January 2022

Made a fresh install on a new Windows 10 PC. In Settings > Style configurator I chose the same dark theme I was using, but only the editor had that dark theme. The menu bar and toolbar didn't.

I'm sad and ashamed to say it took me quite a while of looking around (but wrongly focusing on the style configurator) to realize that there was a Dark mode setting in Settings > Preferences > Dark mode that you need to enable. Maybe this can help other people.

Final appearance (for reference I'm using One Monokai theme with Dark Mode enabled, cyan tone)

  • This should be accepted answer
    – Kirill
    May 9, 2023 at 19:38

Use WindowBlinds from Stardock . It supports global skinning for all apps in Windows but I believe you can also give it special instructions for skinning individual apps.

  • 8
    Please read meta.superuser.com/questions/5329/… for guidance on recommending software. Just pointing to a product that might be useful doesn't explain how to accomplish what was asked in the question. A comment can be used to leave helpful hints that point the reader in the right direction to develop their own answer.
    – fixer1234
    Jun 30, 2015 at 6:24

You can press alt+shift+print screen and it will change all colors of windows to dark including Notepad++.

You can change the tab colors in notepad++ and it changes the tab writing and the tab background and perhaps the window I don't know.

I have written a Notepad++ dark theme generator here with 700 ready made high contrast Notepad++ themes to download:


  • 1
    Can you include a screenshot?
    – Burgi
    Mar 24, 2016 at 10:59
  • 1
    This shortcut doesn't do anything.
    – easycheese
    May 10, 2016 at 15:10
  • 23
    Note to all who read this answer: this is a built-in Windows shortcut to enable the dark "high contrast" theme.
    – LWChris
    Aug 19, 2016 at 20:44
  • @easycheese it does in Win10 and I have tried it successfully. Though your system might not have it enabled or have at all.
    – Multifix
    Apr 21, 2020 at 16:22

Another option would be to switch on the Magnifier:

Start + R > Magnify.exe

Just put it on 100%, so it doesn't magnify and then press Ctrl+Alt+I. It will invert all the colors on the screen, so white becomes black and vice versa! Just make sure to choose a white color scheme in Notepad++ and tada!

As a "bonus" you can also try to add a hue shift of 50% (at least if you have NVidia, I think) to get the original hues back and still have the dark and light shades swapped.

On Windows 10 another more fitting (and perhaps better) option exists. For inverting the brightness (and optionally inverted + grayscale), you can use the color filters for accessibility (link to the Microsoft article on the settings page):

Start > Settings > Ease of Access > Color filters

If the keyboard shortcut is enabled, you can now use Ctrl+Win+C to toggle your previously chosen color filter.


Ignore all these garbage answers that tell you to download and do jump thru hoops & loops. Just go to Settings/StyleConfig/Select Theme as Dark Black and you are done. Im sure there was easier solution for my fav. editor than all the convoluted answers I found.

Credit: code2care.org

  • 2
    Did you even look at the attached screenshot?
    – tomasz
    Dec 28, 2020 at 17:50

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