Win10 Dark Theme for SGP

Hi all,

I’ve spent the last few hours figuring out what the color names in Windows 10 themes effect on SGP. Here is the result:

And here is the Win10 theme that does it:
SGP_Dark_Mode.theme.txt (6.3 KB)

Note that I have not yet tried it in an actual running sequence–there are probably things that are not going to work quite correctly. But, the theme is adequate for saving dark adaptation–just turn your brightness down a little. And it works even better with a red screen–greatly reducing the light pool coming from SGP since almost all of the “fill” elements are now dark instead of the default light.

I have not found a color name that effects the Docking Module title bars. Ken and Jared, can you tell me what color name that would be? And the backgrounds for the graphs and icons seem to be fixed. But overall, it is much closer to a “dark mode” for SGP.

Let me know if this is useful to anyone and if anyone has done one better or has suggestions or improvements. My goal is simply to reduce the amount of light (red or not) leaving my screen. I also find that I can leave the screen dimmer for light text on a dark background than the standard SGP dark text on a light background–even with my red screen attached.

I ran across some rendering bugs while I was doing this. None are real killers, but I’ll document them here in case the developers want to fix them.
Main Window:

  1. Redo button above the image display is filled with the hover color.
    Sequence Panel:
  2. “Add new event” button:
    A. Initial render is strange–perhaps there is some text behind the button that is covered by the fill (unless you remove the fill, as I did).
    B. Button frame does not render until hovered.
  3. Target Data “Down” button
    A. Button frame does not render until hovered.
    B. Button stays highlighted after mouse leaves
  4. Equipment “Down” button: button frame does not render until hovered.
  5. It would be nice if both of those “down” buttons were colored by “ButtonText” instead of being black!
    Control Panel:
  6. This panel doesn’t refresh like the sequence panel. Probably due to the tabs. When activating a theme, it renders a bunch of garbage. Pressing any non-current tab fixes it.
  7. What does the “Adjust flat box setting per filter” label in the “Other” tab mean? Is it missing a check box beside it?
  • Shane

Edited to put picture and theme in the posting in case my web site goes away!


Hi Shane. I share your concerns about the bright screen that SGP gives even at the lowest laptop screen brightness to the dark-adapted eye. Your screenshot of SGP using your custom theme is amazing. I would love to use your theme, but I am not a Windows 10 expert. I copied the content of your file into Notepad and saved it (but was not sure what type of file to save it as) to the Windows - Resources - Themes subdirectory. However, the theme does not show up anywhere in the Themes that I have to select from.
I’m sure I am simply not understanding how to do this, although I did check out several sites with directions on installing custom themes (though most of them were about how to select a new theme from the Windows Store.) I found directions on Deviant Art, but they were not clear to me.
Would you please outline how to import your theme and then make it available for selection in the Personalize - Themes menu? Thank you in advance!

Hi David,

I’m not a Win10 theme expert either!

But try this:

  1. Save the file on your desktop (with its “.theme” extension intact)

  2. Right click on the desktop, select “Personalize” and then bring up the “Themes” panel. They seem to change this a lot. One one of my systems, I click “Themes” in the panel on the left of the setting window. On the other, I click “Go to Themes” a little down on the “Background” window that comes up when I right-click “Personalize”.

  3. Leave the “Themes” panel open and double-click the file that you saved on the desktop.

  4. To get back to one of your other, normal themes, just select it from the settings “Themes” panel.

That’s how I was testing it while I made it. I’m sure that there is a better way to do it. Maybe someone else on the list will tell us! I’ll try to do more work on it tomorrow and will post again if I figure out how we’re actually supposed to do it.

  • Shane

I’m really interesting in this, Shane, but I just can’t seem to get it to work. pulled your file onto my computer and the only thing I can save it as is a text file with the .theme extension. My Windows 10 computer does not recognize that as a theme file and the windows permissions won’t let me save it as one, either. Double clicking it does nothing. Is there some special trick you used to save the file as a Theme file?

OK, well I spoke too soon; I did find a solution. I opened the Themes section and picked a custom color for the background just so that I could save a custom theme and gave it a name. I then searched for that file name and then opened it with notepad and pasted the contents of your theme file into it and saved it. Now, when I double click on the file, it works! I just needed windows to create a theme file that I had edit privileges to.

I’m glad you got it working. It seems that the Win10 theme component is being changed often. Maybe when they quit messing with it, I can find out how you are supposed to add a new theme…

  • Shane

James and Shane,
I tried the process that worked for James (creating a new custom theme and pasting Shane’s content into it). Unfortunately, I can’t see it in the Themes section of personalization and if I double click on it in its native folder, I get a message that says “This theme can’t be applied to the Desktop. Please choose another theme.” I chatted with Microsoft support, but they did not have a solution…

I will keep trying, though. Any further suggestions would be appreciated. The theme looks so good!


OK. I think I figured out a way to make it work withing Win10 (as updated today, anyway).

First, you need two custom themes, one standard and one High Contrast.

Let’s make the standard one first.

  1. Open settings and navigate to Themes (Personalization->Themes)
  2. Scroll down to “Apply a Theme” and choose which ever one you want (or go get a new one from the web). Click it to apply it.
  3. Modify the theme, using either Background or Color. Make it something you like; I just swapped out the picture for a nice dark blue background. The reason we are doing this is so Windows will force us to save a custom theme.
  4. Click the back button to accept your change and go back to the Themes panel. Now you will see a “Save Theme” button.
  5. Click the Save Theme button and give the your new theme a name. I used “Daylight”.
  6. Open file explorer and navigate to C:\Users<your_user_name>\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes. You should see your new theme in this directory. Leave this window open as we are going to use it again.

Now, we need to make another theme that will become the SGP dark mode theme.

  1. Back in the Themes panel in Settings, scroll down to “Related Settings” and click “High contrast settings”.
  2. Under “Use High contrast”, click to turn the button on. Your screen will change to one that has a lot of black and bright colors.
  3. Under “Select a colored rectangle to customize high contrast colors”, click any rectangle and change the color to anything. It doesn’t matter; all we are doing is making Windows generate a custom high contrast theme for us.
  4. Click the “Apply” button and choose a name for your new, custom high contrast theme. I used “Nightlight”. You should see your new theme appear in the Windows Explorer windows, from above.
  5. Open the new Nightlight theme in NotePad and replace the “[Control Panel\Colors]” section with the one from the SGP dark mode theme. Save the file.

Log off and back on to force Windows to reload your local profile. I don’t know if this is definitely necessary, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.

To change to the Daylight theme:

  1. Open Settings->Personalization->Themes
  2. Scroll down to “Apply a theme” and click you Daylight theme.

To change to the Nightlight theme:

  1. Open Settings->Personalization->Themes
  2. Scroll down to “Related Settings”.
  3. Click “High contrast settings”
  4. Under “Use high contrast”, click the “Turn on high contrast” button so it is “On”.
  5. Under “Choose a theme”, select your Nightlight theme.

I copied the two files from the Windows Explorer window to the desktop and can now double-click them to change between the two themes. It’s a bit faster than navigating through Settings.

Let me know if this works for you. I don’t know why Win10 makes themes so complicated…

  • Shane

I just clicked your original post “theme” file and saved it to desktop then double clicked on it on my desktop and mine looks like yours. Now I’m not real fond of it. ( to contrasty) is it possible to make the background DARK grey instead of black and a light gray instead of RED?

Sure. I documented the theme file extensively as I figured it out. Just look in the “[Control Panel\Colors]” section for the comments that start with “SGP:”. Find the SGP component you want to change and change the color to whatever you want. The three numbers are red, green, and blue and range from 0 to 255. Black is 0, 0, 0 and white is 255, 255, 255. Shades of grey will be between those.

Or, just turn the brightness on your screen down–that’s what I do!

  • Shane

Shane, James, and Ron,

Thank you all for your contributions!

Shane, your theme now works on my computer. I really like the ability to read the screen clearly but with much lower screen brightness and to see the latest photo just like before installing the new theme. And it is easy to switch back to a daytime theme.

Goodbye red cellophane cover for the monitor…
Goodbye frustration with the lowest screen brightness setting being too high once dark adapted…

I appreciate Shane’s instructions to modify the black background a bit and plan to try this out. But even if nothing changes, this is a great approach using existing resources that balances the utility of SGP and dark adaptation while imaging.


@kor That does look cool. Nice work.

Thanks Ken. Can you tell me if the title bar for the dockable modules corresponds to a theme color? If it does, I couldn’t find it…

  • Shane

Another Piece of the Solution!

Windows 10 has a feature called “Nightlight” that removes blue from the entire screen. This is usually enabled in the lat evening because studies have shown that blue light prevents you from getting good sleep. (So does astrophotography!)

Dark Mode Theme Applied:
Dark Mode Theme with Nightlight Enabled:

I had to take a picture of the screen for the last image. Apparently, Nightlight is a color remapping thing that doesn’t “screen shot”. But you get the idea, All colors are shifted towards red; the white docking module title bars and image frame, and the icons become reddish and the bright green progress bars turns to a very dark green. This looks very similar to when I put the red filter over the screen.

To do this, open your notification by pressing the “box quote” button at the end of your start bar. (Note that I have moved my start bar to the left edge to preserve vertical real estate.) The notification button is the one that is red with black “box quote” icon.

The notification panel will expand from the right side of your screen. Near the bottom are a series of “Notifications Actions” buttons. Click the “Expand” button to see them all. This is cropped to show only the expanded buttons:

Somewhere in the grid will be a “Nightlight” button. Right click it and select “Go to Settings”. The Display settings panel will appear:

Click “Night light settings” and it’s settings panel will appear:

Move the “Color temperature at night” slider all the way to the left to make it as red as possible. Then, under “Schedule” click to button to “Off”.

Now, clicking the “Nightlight” button in the Notifications Actions panel will toggle nightlight mode. You still need to enable the dark mode theme, but now you can make the rest of the white stuff turn red!

Nightlight affect all of WIndows 10, so the icons in your start bar and all other applications get red’ed too.

My next theme project is to see how this stuff effects PHD2 and if I can make a theme that works well for both SGP and PHD2 at the same time.

  • Shane
1 Like

I think that might be forcibly colored gray for some reason I can no longer remember… I’ll see if I can make honor a windows color.

Your theme also works on my win 7 machine…

I have been using your theme for over a month now, and it works really well. Thanks for taking time to assist the community with your observations and ingenuity. I have ended up using 40, 40, 40 as the “black” level instead of 0, 0, 0 and the “Night light” setting that seems to work best for me is not quite at full red. With that said, the improvement is dramatic and the old red screen cover that was easily mangled is long gone. I generally just need one double click of the theme shortcut on the Desktop and then one click to close the theme pop-up window and I’m good to go (because the Night light settings are applied at 9:00 anyway and this time can be easily adjusted).

The visual observers in our club and I thank you!

David and Eric:
I’m glad to hear that the theme is useful. Especially in a public setting as to not disturb others! It does surprise me a little that it works on Win7; did Win7 have high contrast themes also, or is “High Contrast” just a made up thing that doesn’t really matter when you get down to the .theme file? (Not really expecting an answer to that–just more of my wonderings.)

I’ve heard a lot recently about amber being better than red for night vision. Several members or my club have even purchased amber colored LED flashlights to replace their red ones. I’m going to experiment with that soon and see if it allows me to turn the brightness down even further and still be able to read that little bitty print …

  • Shane

Win7 has “high contrast” themes you can select. I just used one of those and then edited the theme file as described. I did not find any reference to a “night light” mode, still it’s a big improvement over the standard layout.

Dark theme on Win7…