1. IntroductionAs a massive dark theme nerd myself, I decided to take on the task of finding a way to customize the windows environment to the same level of operating systems like Linux Mint and Ubuntu. However, since Windows is closed source, this was more of a challenge. Additionally, I wanted to discover ways to theme my favourite apps to be gentle on the eyes as well. So, here’s my shitty list of ways to darken your Windows.
2. Theming Google ChromeThis should be obvious. Install a theme for chrome such as the one found here to make it dark: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/material-incognito-dark-t/ahifcnpnjgbadkjdhagpfjfkmlapfoel?hl=en-GB
Make sure that the theme does not use custom minimize, maximize, and close buttons if you choose a different one.
3. Theming websites
3.1. StylerIf you lack the knowledge of how websites work (HTML, CSS, etc. etc.) then don’t worry about this first option. However, on the Chrome store, an extension called “Styler” allows users to inject their own CSS and JS/JQuery code allowing for dark themed websites and custom functionality (someone make me a youtube download button).
3.2. Stylishf you want quick pre-made themes, Stylish is the extension you should pick (although I use both). Stylish has a large database of amazing themes created by other web designers/hobbyists that allow you to theme websites in seconds. It can be found on the chrome web store as well.
3.3. Dark ModeThis is an awesome extension that attempts to darken webpages via universal CSS code. It almost never works perfectly, but it does a damn fine job compared to other extensions. Right click on the extension, go to options, and scroll to the bottom to add domains that you are styling with Stylish or Styler.
3.4. Youtube Beta ThemeScroll to the bottom of the Youtube page and “try experimental features” or something along those lines. This will allow you to try out the new beautiful Youtube theme. Click on your account on the top right of your screen and go to “dark mode” to enable it’s official dark theme.
4. Theming DiscordDiscord is built in HTML, CSS, and JS meaning that theming is style very easy. Download “Better Discord” and follow the install instructions. Go to their themes website, and download the theme of your choosing. Go to user settings in discord, pick themes, open the theme folder, and drag and drop your theme into the folder. Restart Discord, activate your new theme, and enjoy.
5. Theming WindowsFinally, the part that most people have been waiting for (or just jumped to), theming windows. It’s no easy task since Windows is a closed sourced operating system meaning we are mostly limited to the information will give to us. However, a few users on Reddit found a way to unlock the theming systems in Windows to it’s full potential by examining the “high contrast” themes that still exist to this day. Essentially, Windows has many set colours for the OS that are used in almost every well programmed app (Control, Darker Control, Background, etc. etc.). By changing the values of these colours, we can change the brightness of our apps. Also note, this was further expanded to allow for icon customizations and such.
So, how do we do it? First, make sure you are on Creator’s Update or Anniversary Update (Windows 10), Windows 8.1, or Windows 7. Install UXThemePatcher by searching it up on google along with your OS/Update name. Restart your computer and you’re ready to install themes.
Open up C:Windows\Resources\Themes and drag and drop any theme that you decide to use. I cannot recommend Penumbra 10 enough for it’s fantastic compatibility across the board. Drag and drop the .theme files along with their respective folders into the themes folder. This will require administrative approval. Open up your personalization settings and change to your desired theme!
Note: Always make sure to read the instructions for specific themes. For example, Penumbra requires you to get the ribbon removal and UI tweaker for file explorer in order to function correctly.
6. Custom IconsBeing a huge fan of the icon packs on Android, I was super excited to see someone had implemented an icon pack for Windows. And, I must say, it's incredible. I highly recommend WinRemix. All install instructions are on the deviantart page.
7. Dark UWP AppsIf you’re on Windows 10 and on the anniversary update or later, open your settings app, search for “dark” and click on the respective setting to make all UWP apps dark.
8. Future CustomizationThe potential for customization in Windows doesn’t touch that of Linux/Unix based operating systems. However, there still is potential. Check out 7+ Taskbar Tweaker and Rainmeter for Taskbar and Desktop customizations. Just, whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap that is Windows 10 performance optimizations. Microsoft knows what they’re doing and has intelligent optimizers in place for your system. Let them do what they do best.
Another side note: You probably should have made a system restore point you dumbass.