Bojan Petrovic

Setting up the dark theme in SQL Server management studio

September 28, 2017 by

In SSMS 2016 Microsoft introduced visual setting option to choose between Blue and Light color theme. In both SSMS 2016 and the latest SSMS 17, the user can switch between the Blue or Light theme by going to Tools > Options > Environment > General > Color theme:

SSMS Dark theme

Although it’s not officially supported (work in progress) by Microsoft, the Dark theme is also available in both SSMS 2016 and the latest SSMS 17. The SSMS 2016 dark theme has been very popular among SQL database administrators and developers. To enable the Dark theme in SSMS, follow these simple steps.

Close SSMS if it is running. Run any text editor as an administrator, in this case Notepad++ is used, in order to edit the SSMS configuration file:

The configuration (ssms.pkgundef) file is located at the following locations:

SSMS 2016

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\130\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio

SSMS 17

C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\140\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio

Depending on SSMS version, locate and open the configuration file (ssms.pkgundef) in the text editor.

Once the file is opened in the text editor, scroll down and find section of the code under the “Remove Dark Theme” heading, add “//” (without quotation marks) before each line only for the part of “Remove Dark theme”, and save the file:

Once completed, start SSMS and the Dark color theme will be available in the SSMS Color theme drop-down box:

Once again, if the color theme is set to Black, ApexSQL Complete will automatically change its own even though it not officially supported by Microsoft, and match the host environment:

Note: As we mentioned before, the Dark color theme in SSMS is still work in progress and that’s why it is disabled by default. There might be some visual deviations e.g. white background in the Object Explorer, Results grid, etc.

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Bojan Petrovic

Bojan Petrovic

Bojan has a passion for working with computers, servers, and network technology, and electronics. He likes to stay updated with developments and the most recent technology. He currently works at ApexSQL LLC as a Support Engineer with a bachelor’s degree in IT Network and Electronics Technology.

He helps customers with any technical issues and does quality assurance (testing applications and preparing for production) for ApexSQL Complete, ApexSQL Refactor, and ApexSQL Search free add-ins.
Bojan Petrovic

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SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS)

About Bojan Petrovic

Bojan has a passion for working with computers, servers, and network technology, and electronics. He likes to stay updated with developments and the most recent technology. He currently works at ApexSQL LLC as a Support Engineer with a bachelor’s degree in IT Network and Electronics Technology.

He helps customers with any technical issues and does quality assurance (testing applications and preparing for production) for ApexSQL Complete, ApexSQL Refactor, and ApexSQL Search free add-ins.

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  • Bojan Petrovic

    Hi Prashanth,

    Thanks for the comment. You’re right, I should have wrote a note regarding custom installation location. Also, thanks for the encouraging words and for bringing this to our attention 🙂

    Best regards,
    Bojan

    • Prashanth Jayaram

      Thanks for the reply:). Keep up the spirit!

  • Bojan Petrovic

    Hi Hiram,

    Thanks for the comment. You’re right, this isn’t new, but for some reason Microsoft keeps postponing the release of the Dark theme for SSMS, although it’s fully implemented in VS. I was playing with the settings in the Environment under the Fonts and Colors, but I was not able to figure it out how to match sub-menus. I’ll keep trying cause I really like the dark theme 🙂

    Best regards,
    Bojan

    • Hiram Fleitas León

      Open a maint plan and brace yourself. Lol

  • Thanks for the article, Finally I can get rid of the white background. By the way, if I’m not mistaken commenting only 1st line should be fine, no need to do it for rest.

    • Bojan Petrovic

      Hi Cengiz,

      You’re very welcome. Thank you for reading it, and dropping a comment. By the way, you’re right… commenting only the first line does the job 🙂

  • Michael Hill

    This is fantastic and makes working in SSMS so much better. I do have to re-apply this change after each SSMS update (e.g. now, as I just updated from v17.3 to v17.4 and had to look this article up again), but that is a small price to pay to make it that much easier on the eyes. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Bojan Petrovic

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for dropping the comment. I couldn’t agree more, the dark theme rules! I’m glad that you find the article useful 🙂