SQL Server Management Studio Dark/Black Theme - by Ricardo Leka - MCM

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ID 2540194 Comments
Status Active Workarounds
Type Suggestion Repros 29
Opened 4/1/2016 10:28:11 AM
Access Restriction Public


On the March 2016 Refresh you add the light theme and now we have two themes blue and light.
You could add the Dark/Black theme like on Visual Studio 2013/2015.
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Posted by Ricardo Leka - MCM on 12/8/2017 at 4:18 AM
Today new version of SSMS, now 17.4,,, and still with no dark theme or even a try to improve.
Posted by xxjergerxx on 11/15/2017 at 7:31 AM
In the REDDIT AMA we got weird answers like "oh the solution is to buy Cloud" with most questions or "that would cost millions of dollars for a dark theme" which makes zero sense. A few of use this as a template and adjust the highlighting color to preference hope it helps:
Posted by Echtogammut on 11/10/2017 at 3:48 PM
For those of you like me, who can't wait for MS to finish the Dark theme, you can go into:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\140\tools\binn\managementstudio\SSMS.pkgundef and comment out the section "Remove Dark theme". It isn't perfect and if I have some time I might post a longer bit on how to fix the white explorer and results backgrounds, but at least your Query window and everything else is the familiar dark theme. I imagine I am not alone feeling acute pain when swapping from VS dark to the MSSM bright white. I've read some people's rationalizations why this hasn't been done yet, but literally all the work has already been done in terms of graphics, fonts and such since VS 2013. I imagine the teams developing the tools are completely different, but that just means MS needs to be better at sharing data and resources internally.
Posted by JohnyL on 10/17/2017 at 1:13 PM
SSMS 17.3 - still no Dark Theme?
Posted by Daniel Azuara on 10/9/2017 at 10:31 PM
SSMS 17.3 just came out and no Dark Theme yet. Can you at least make improvements on components like object explorer and result grid which are still not improved at all?
Posted by xxxdeadhorse on 9/20/2017 at 9:13 AM
Pleeeeease MS,
I can hardly wait for the final dark theme. At the moment I have a hard time with some context menus.
But what we have so far with the workaround is still 1000 times better than the old themes.

Thanks a billion in advance for the final dark theme
Posted by Damian Suess on 8/21/2017 at 9:08 AM
Dear Microsoft,
As a developer with vision issues, it is physically painful to look at a screen with a white background. Even for short periods of time, it is very painful. Please, please consider implementing this.

The work is okay'ish, except for the submenus on the Object Explorer where it is dark gray on black lettering. I love working with SSMS over VS2016's lite implementation. Thank you for considering.
Posted by Ricardo Leka - MCM on 8/9/2017 at 5:55 AM
We don´t expect a full finish product, we understand the SSMS still in a work progress, but we expect some kind of progress, like Object Explorer in dark background, result grid respect the background change color.
we know the appearance is not the fist one priority, but give us something just to show that some one is reading this connect.
Posted by CrsRdg on 8/1/2017 at 8:38 AM
While I agree a year and a half is too long for this project I'd like to provide some context to give the MS Dev's some well deserved patience

I'm not a MS employee but for those who only script (SQL) and don't also create GUI's (C#/C++) there may be a disconnect on what goes on under the hood. Part of why this takes so long is the resources are inherited from Visual Studio. Open the root folder of SSMS and search for a .png here: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server

Notice there isn't an image file anywhere to be found

Now navigate to the Visual Studio 12.0 shell and run the same search for a .png: C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0

It finds over 7,500 images!!!

When you look at the code you're commenting out in the "Workaround" hack it's showing root objects that are pointers for these image resources. In the object explorer each tiny image represents a picture hosted by the Visual Studio shell which can be used by both VS and SSMS. When you look at the object explorer it may seem like a simple white background but really it's a labyrinth of background with hundreds of little picture resources that are being called every time you click a "+" sign to expand a DB, Table, File, View, Function, etc.

The MS dev's have to go through every single one of these images which include features (Spatial, MDX, etc.) many people don't even know exist. A graphic designer then has to make sure they didn't already have an approved image that works with dark and then create something you can see well on the new background. They then pass it back off to the dev who import it into VS as a resource which is another team. They then have to make sure every version of SSMS can access the new icons but only load the right images based on functions your version of SSMS supports. As an example since Column Store indexes don't exist prior to 2012 they have to make sure the new little image for that type of index doesn't show up in the dark background index tree if you're using SSMS 2008.

Expand the object explorer tree and see just how many pictures there are. The query designer was simple for the same reason opening Word and changing the font color is simple. The object explorer is like changing the colors in a folder with 1,000 pictures in it.

In the end while I'll be the first to say I hate knowing it - this adds very little real value other than a personal preference. It's been my top "want" for years but I'm happy they even took it on at all because lets face it this wont make or break your using this product. These guys have a massive undertaking on a low priority project and deserve a little patience.
Posted by PeterRow on 7/20/2017 at 12:52 AM
For crying out loud Microsoft HOW LONG IS THIS TAKING?!
Visual Studio since 2012 has had a dark theme, pull your damn fingers out! Sorry to be so aggressive but how many connect posts and forum posts upvoted into infinity are you going to ignore before you actually implement a dark theme?!

It's kind of ironic the new style MS site, including the download/release note page for SSMS has a dark mode option but yet the product itself does not, give me strength!
Posted by Jimmy Main on 6/20/2017 at 12:40 AM
come on devs, you just need to fix the explorer window and query output window, and leave us with our hack if you can't do more than that...
Posted by VeritableHero on 6/1/2017 at 7:20 AM
Didn't realize how nice the dark theme is until I uncommented the code for 2016. Scripts are much easier on the eyes. This the the only issue I've added to my watch list.
Posted by Kevin S Lewis on 5/24/2017 at 2:06 AM
I second the comment from AF4JM, this works for SSMS 2017. Saved me having to copy the settings from VS2017 line by agonising line. It's not a finished polished theme granted, but its not as tiring on the eyes than all white.
Posted by Damian Suess on 5/2/2017 at 11:56 AM
360+ votes, still no word from MS? The SpiceWorks workaround does work very well, but is vague on where to stop commenting out code
Posted by Ed Lomonaco on 4/27/2017 at 8:34 AM
I'd love to see this happen as well, some sort of update would be great, so bad to go from dark on vs to bright white ssms
Posted by Ricardo Leka - MCM on 4/26/2017 at 11:37 AM
New version SSMS 17.0 (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/ssms/download-sql-server-management-studio-ssms) but no dark theme.
Even the URL docs.microsoft.com have dark theme...
Posted by Ricardo Leka - MCM on 4/6/2017 at 6:16 AM
The New version 17 RC3 bring new icons but no Dark Theme, if you update to RC3 and change the file to enable the Dark theme the new icons look´s nice.
Posted by AF4JM on 3/9/2017 at 8:17 AM
Apologies for fat-fingering Ricardo Leka's name in my comment a minute ago. :)
Posted by AF4JM on 3/9/2017 at 8:16 AM
Regarding Riicardo Lika's work-around noted in earlier comments, I found that removing only the single line that refers to the theme was enough. The other 19 lines have nothing to do with the theme. (i.e. loading the modules for code expansion in C++ & JavaScript doesn't make the dark theme work any better, it just puts unused bloat back into SSMS)
Posted by Luiz Felippe Gonçalves on 2/7/2017 at 2:17 PM
Yeah..we hope the SSMS Dark theme comes asap.. If you are working with other dark enviroments(VS code/VS Community) and push Alt+Tab to SSMS after midnight you will flash and erase your memory at least 2 years before.. =( #mibFeelings
Posted by KLC on 2/3/2017 at 12:42 PM
New version 16.5.3 and no dark theme.
Posted by MichaelStrangeDk on 1/30/2017 at 6:47 AM
Any news on this?
Posted by Ricardo Leka - MCM on 1/27/2017 at 9:35 AM
New version 16.5.3, and nothing about the black theme. C´mon guys is so hard copy the code from VS or Visual Studio Code ?
Posted by tslin89 on 1/25/2017 at 2:02 AM
Let's hope we will see dark theme in this year. I am sure Microsoft is really working hard on it. Until then, for query review purpose, I will continue copy-paste large queries and stored procedures into Visual Studio Code which format nicely with dark theme.
Posted by r1chardv on 1/20/2017 at 3:01 AM
Totally agree - a dark theme would be really useful, a lot easier on the eye.
Posted by JohnyL on 1/14/2017 at 11:13 AM
Any news about Dark Theme?
You can add 40 votes more from my feedback: https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/feedback/details/2781426/add-dark-color-theme-to-sql-server-2016-ssms
Posted by wbbeasley_tx on 1/13/2017 at 2:19 PM
Microsoft why are you holding out on SSMS. Make it like Visual Studio. Dark color theme has got to be one of the most basic style elements you add.
Posted by Gimlichael on 1/13/2017 at 2:08 AM
Microsoft, it's been a year now .. developers, devops and other professionals are used to the dark theme by now. My eyes literally hurts when opening SSMS with an explosion of white light. Please make progress now! And tell the Windows 10 team to add a true Dark based theme there as well. 2017 must be the year of "Dark" Microsoft-wide!
Posted by - Will - on 1/5/2017 at 1:28 PM
yup, that's why I credited you ("Ricardo (the OP)", OP=Original Poster) - I was just linking to your blog for the benefit of the thousands of people watching this issue and curious to see the progress so far.

Thanks by the way for your blog post, even though MS hasn't completed the theme yet, it still reduces the amount of whitespace considerably!
Posted by Ricardo Leka - MCM on 1/5/2017 at 10:29 AM
Hi @Will,

I know that, I wrote the post.
Posted by - Will - on 1/5/2017 at 8:56 AM
Ricardo (the OP) wrote a brief post on his blog in Nov detailing how to enable the Dark theme that is currently deployed in SSMS. You have to tweak a settings file and then the Dark theme option appears in the list of available themes.

Here's the post (you may have to translate it - I think it's in Portuguese)

Microsoft has disabled it from the options menu because it is still far from complete yet (needs a lot of work still). I've been using it for a few days and basically the main shell, script editor, and context menus are dark, but the other windows (object explorer, object explorer details, results pane, etc.) are all still white. Also, context menu contrast and icon contrast need work still too. I wouldn't even call the dark theme beta yet.
Posted by Haryon Lira Caetano on 12/24/2016 at 6:22 AM
It's really bad to see all that light in my face when I open the app at night in the dark room. Dark theme now.
Posted by scott_m on 12/23/2016 at 8:37 AM
@Ken [MSFT]

Any progress on dark theme for SSMS?
Posted by Ishak Memiguven on 12/20/2016 at 1:09 PM
I see a light screen and I want it painted black. No colors anymore, I want them to turn black. Please
Posted by Nick Haslam on 12/6/2016 at 12:24 AM
Not fixed in 16.5.1, while it's possible to change the text editor, you still can't change the results grid background, or the object explorer.
Posted by jKode on 11/23/2016 at 2:28 PM
I wonder if this will ever get done? What's taking so long? #joinTheDarkSide
Posted by Illvminati on 11/23/2016 at 11:29 AM
Insert Evil Kermit meme here...
Yes - please make it match VS dark.
Posted by Daniel Azuara on 11/22/2016 at 12:17 AM
It's been 8 months since Microsoft said they're working on this. Come on just make this happen! it's so easy on the eyes.
Posted by Nedashkivskyi Yevhen on 11/19/2016 at 2:51 AM
I know this connect item was the top-rated question during the last AMA session with the development team. I hope it would not be ignored.
Posted by mesteveoams on 11/14/2016 at 4:04 PM
try datagrip... it's dark and you can use a 64 jvm (much master that ssms. You can auth with kerberos and ntlmv2 with microsoft drivers or the jtds drivers.
Posted by PeterLRow on 11/8/2016 at 5:58 AM
I don't really create about the rest of the UI just give us an easy way to have a dark theme in the text editor! At least progress that - there is no need to wait for the other UI elements to be in place before adding that.

Please my eyes are killing me! Dark theme, come on!
Posted by Edi Wang on 10/31/2016 at 11:21 PM
Is there any schedule on this? I don't know what's the difficulty in this. SSMS 2016 is using VS2015 Shell, dark theme, even customized theme support should be already done by that shell. I don't understand whats the hold up.
Posted by Ricardo Leka - MCM on 10/27/2016 at 6:03 AM
New release and? 16.5,,, nothing...
Posted by Ricardo Leka - MCM on 10/18/2016 at 6:06 AM
Nothing on September release, maybe on October release? #joinTheDarkSide
Posted by Daniel AG on 10/17/2016 at 11:23 AM
Is there a tentative release date for this theme in SSMS?
Posted by antoniog_607 on 10/14/2016 at 2:33 PM
@Ken, Please!.. add support for Dark Theme!!... #joinTheDarkSide
Posted by jKode on 10/3/2016 at 11:29 PM
@Ken, thats great to hear, is there any update on the dark theme? #joinTheDarkSide
Posted by Eddy.a on 9/13/2016 at 6:52 AM
Dark theme People !!!!!!!!
Posted by Sadjad Bahmanpour on 8/25/2016 at 9:08 PM
@Ken, great news, please add support for Dark Theme, it's very much needed. Thanks
Posted by Ricardo Leka - MCM on 8/16/2016 at 11:06 AM
Now August version is out (https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt238486.aspx) and nothing about the Dark Theme, they launch version after version with bugs, and nothing about the Dark Theme...
Posted by esbrown on 8/16/2016 at 8:33 AM
So March has come and gone and I don't see the Dark theme - Really looking forward to seeing this, any updates?
Posted by CougarDave on 8/3/2016 at 1:56 PM
Hey Ken, I just got the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 which includes an O/S level dark theme. With VS 2015, Edge and now Windows itself supporting a dark theme, the only piece missing for me is a dark SSMS. Any update?
Posted by ArvindRavish on 7/20/2016 at 11:24 PM
Excellent news! eagerly waiting for the dark theme.
Posted by Alan Schofield on 7/6/2016 at 7:01 AM
@Ken, do these UI enhancements include the 'map mode' scroll bar? If not please add it to the ever growing list! If you setup a DIY Dark Theme as I have then inevitably the text is mainly light colours which are difficult to see against the light scroll bar when it is in map mode.
Posted by Amith2111 on 6/20/2016 at 12:22 PM
I too would like to use the dark theme as I find it easier on the eyes.
Posted by Dave Slinn on 6/1/2016 at 3:09 PM
I'm also running the April prerelease and would love to see the VS2015 dark theme become available in SSMS. Especially with the upcoming Win 10 Anniversary update giving us a dark theme in the OS, apps with only light themes are starting to stand out, and not in a good way. :)
Posted by Microsoft on 4/1/2016 at 11:18 AM
Thanks Ricardo. We currently have the dark theme disabled as we need to do a lot more UI enhancements across all the SSMS dialogs and wizards to make this work properly. We will be working on this and true HIgh DPI support in the coming months.