How to Enable Dark Theme Sql Server Management Studio – SSMS Dark Theme

For implementing Dark theme in your SSMS just follow this change guide and you will have it ready to work in a few minutes.

After downloading and installing Sql Server Management Studio follow this steps.

Ways to Enabling dark mode in SSMS

Open WordPad or other text editor like notepad++ as an Administrator (Also you can do this using other text editor as WordPad, but don’t forget to open it as an Administrator).

After that you will need to open “ssms.pkgundef” file, This file can be found in the following path

  • SSMS 17.9 and below “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\140\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio\”
  • SSMS 18.x.x (GA)  C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 18\Common7\IDE\

Then go to the following line looking for the following line  “[$RootKey$\Themes\{1ded0138-47ce-435e-84ef-9ec1f439b749}]”

  • SSMS 17.9 and below Line 242
  • SSMS 18.x.x (GA)  Line 460

Or if don’t find it in the quoted line  just search for “Remove Dark theme” in your current text editor.

For enabling dark mode all you have to do is comment “[$RootKey$\Themes\{1ded0138-47ce-435e-84ef-9ec1f439b749}]”  by adding  “//”  adt the beginning.

After that save and close the text editor. Then open Sql Server Management Studio and go to Tools > Options

At Options go to Environment > General then select Color Theme and select “Dark” click on “Ok” and theme will change to dark.

Now dark theme is applied.

You can enable Dark theme by using a different method

Open Windows Power Shell as an Administrator and execute the following command


  • SSMS 17.9 and below “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\140\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio\”

powershell -Command “(gc ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\140\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio\ssms.pkgundef’) -replace ‘\[\`$RootKey\`$\\Themes\\{1ded0138-47ce-435e-84ef-9ec1f439b749}\]’, ‘//[`$RootKey`$\Themes\{1ded0138-47ce-435e-84ef-9ec1f439b749}]’ | Out-File ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server\140\Tools\Binn\ManagementStudio\ssms.pkgundef'”


  • SSMS 18.x.x (GA)  C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 18\Common7\IDE\

powershell -Command “(gc ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 18\Common7\IDE\ssms.pkgundef’) -replace ‘\[\`$RootKey\`$\\Themes\\{1ded0138-47ce-435e-84ef-9ec1f439b749}\]’, ‘//[`$RootKey`$\Themes\{1ded0138-47ce-435e-84ef-9ec1f439b749}]’ | Out-File ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 18\Common7\IDE\ssms.pkgundef'”

In case this command does not work change “ssms.pkgundef’” file path.

After Executing this commands changes are going to be applied and you are going to be able to use dark mode on SSMS, there is no confirmation message from PowerShell.

Select the Start button and search for “High contrast settings”

On high contrast menu turn on high contrast and on “Choose a theme” select “High Contrast Black”

High contrast mode will be applied by default and it is going to look as follows.

When applying this change you are going to loose text highlighting and High Contrast mode is going to be applied in your SSMS.

There are other Microsoft options that have dark theme already include.

Visual studio Code is a popular tool for  that allows you to write code in different languages, with it’s extensive number of plugins  that helps you customizing this amazing code editor, It is a good alternative for working on a complete Dark theme environment, you can download it in the following link: Visual Studio Code Download.

Azure Data studio an SSMS option that focus on analyzing data, this tool helps you to explore the Database Engine by providing you a great number of plugins and internal tools that makes you easier to do certain sql server task.  This tool does come with Dark mode included on text. you can download it in the following link: Azure Data Studio Download.

Between those two I prefer using Azure Data Studio as this tool and it’s plugins are develop for managing data.

There are other alternatives which include better tools for helping you with your SQL task, but I recommend using these ones as they were develop by Microsoft.

Something that I didn’t like is that theme is not completed as you can see certain parts of SSMS keep being white (ex.Object Explorer) and other parts at menu are black with a black background, something that make really hard to read menu content.

I checked Microsoft Forums and people says that this version is on beta and Microsoft developers are going to include “Dark Theme” as an official theme on next versions. Other people say that this version is not going to be included because Microsoft developers says that it will take a lot of effort and rework of certain SSMS parts.

I looked into and i found that they don’t plan to invest on Dark Theme yet.

I don’t really know which version is correct but I expect the first one, because I would like to work with SSMS black theme completed.

If you want a complete dark mode and you are not worried about text highlighting try to use high contrast mode.



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