The Dark Side Revisited - Darkish Color Themes for Visual Studio

Developers have been experimenting with darker color schemes for Visual Studio, aiming to port their beloved Textmate or Vim environment to other IDEs including VS. The Textmate Vibrant Ink theme was ported for Visual Studio and recently improved. Zenburn was ported from Vim to Visual Studio. Collections of other dark color themes can be found here, here, and here. Some like them, some don't. I was in the latter group until recently. That was when I came across the Aloha scheme for Netbeans 6, which is based on the work of Carmelyne Thompson inspired by the RubyRobot scheme for Textmate. I find the colors very enchanting so I went ahead and created an approximation of the Aloha theme for Visual Studio. I made the following changes:

  • Changed the font to Consolas 10 from Monaco 12. You can download the "original" Monaco font for Windows here.
  • Changed the green (102,153,51) strings to a light blue (191,191,255). Please note that this a just and approximation and not an exact port for every language. Then again, why should it be? You can tweak the settings yourself quite easily in Options>Environment>Fonts and Colors. Here's a screen shot: image You can download the vssettings file and import it in Tools>Import and Export Settings... In Visual Studio 2005 you will get a message similar to this: The file x.vssettings was created with an unsupported version of this application and cannot be added to the settings file list. Simply open the file in Notepad and replace with and it should import just fine. One more thing: When you export the font and color settings, deselect all settings first and then just select Options>Environment>Fonts and Colors, so that the Export dialog looks like so: image Enjoy!

Carmelyne Thompson: Oh nice! A visual studio port. I don't exactly remember which theme inspired that color scheme. Someone else said it was Vibrant Ink but it's really not and neither was it RubyRobot. I'm not trying to correct anyone but if I remember which theme it is I will give a shout out to the theme author! :)

Mike McKinney: The VS theme looks great! The darker themes are easier on the eyes rather than having a white background blasting into your retinas. Coming from a terminal, vi, no color based style of development... all these great themes seem to make the code more interesting than before... :)

dirk: @tabish: Thanks for the heads-up. It was probably the “smart” new security settings of the IIS7 (Microsoft) web server not allowing the .vssettings file extension. I moved the settings to a zip file and updated the link. Thanks again!

tabish: i really like the color scheme, however the "download the vssettings file" link is dead. Can somebody please update the link?

tabish: Thanks dirk, it looks great!

Joe: Love it! Thanks!!!

fando: I LOVE this theme, the lame white background was destroying my eyes, now I just need a dark theme for SQL Server Management Studio and I won't go completely blind :D

Chaits: I know this is a very old post, and probably not relevant anyway for what I am looking, but I had to ask. Hopefully, I will get a response. I bumped across this post as I was googling on a problem I have with VS 2010 and Monaco font (more details @ Looking at the first screenshot above, I understand the font is changed to Monaco, but the rendering looks to be Courier New (which I believe was your default font) - correct me if I am wrong, but is that how Monaco font would be rendered in Visual Studio IDE text editor?

Posted: 10 February 2008

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