Changing color schemes in entire IDE, not just editor


I am using IntelliJ IDEA Ultimate Edition 2018.1.5, and incredibly, I cannot find an option to change the color scheme for the entire IDE. The best I can do is get it to change in the editor panel, so the rest of the environment is unmatched. 

What I mean to say is, I can choose between two default color schemes for the whole IDE: light and dark. But these stay the same regardless of what external theme I try to apply. Any new themes only affect the editor. Here is a picture of my attempt to apply Solarized light:

The editor has the new theme, but everything else is still white.

Please, can someone tell me how to change the color scheme? It is really baffling that this is not an easy process like with Eclipse, VS Code, Netbeans, or any other IDE or coding editor I can think of. Especially considering that this is a paid program that costs hundreds of dollars per year. There has to be a way to do this simple thing, right?


Hi. You need to install a plugin theme to override default UI colors.

For example:


Thank you very much for your reply. Of the plugin themes you linked, I only see one (Material Theme UI) which is actually a color theme. The rest do other things, like change the sidebar icons, switch between Darcula and Default based on time of day, etc. What I want is the ability to apply color themes like in every other IDE known to man.

It will be really shocking if JetBrains has not allowed for this option. All I want is to be able to choose a nice, light theme that is not bright white.


It looks like the Material Theme developers have included some options for configuring the theme, however it is still not ideal. For example, I still haven't found a way to make the sidebar obey the rest of the color scheme if I choose something like Solarized Light, but maybe I will be able to do this in some of the config files somewhere with a lot of tinkering.

It is absolutely incredible that JetBrains has not implemented this basic feature. I am disappointed, because I do like the software otherwise. However this may be a deal breaker for me.

Thank you again for pointing out the Material Theme UI project.


I agree with Tatiana. It's absurdly complicated.

I played with VSCode (w/Python extension) and it was trivially simple to make theme changes. There must be something fundamentally wrong with IntelliJ Platform underlying codebase architecture if simple (but very important) changes to the editor theme appearance are so complicated for the users to make.

Not a good first impression. I gave up. Have to live with original, IDE-provided 2 themes. Not happy.


I had the same issue initially.


So there are two places to set the colouring, the overall theme:

> Settings > Appearance

- and -

> Settings > Editor > Color Scheme


Hope this helps.


Thanks Leon, but I know about the two areas to change the colors, as mentioned in my original post. It doesn't help.

The setting under Settings > Editor > Appearance changes the colors in the editor part of the IDE. You can install themes that will show up there and can be applied easily to the editor.

But the setting under Settings > Appearance only changes the UI to either light or dark. That's it. We do not have the ability to add a theme there, so if you want to make the non-editor part of the UI anything other than the default light or dark, you can't. (At least not without installing additional plugins.)

What I ended up doing was searching the plugin section (with the IDE settings) for "theme" or "color" and installing all the color schemes that were found. There are quite a few, and some affect the UI colors rather than just the editor. Some do not. Even then, there are weird conflicts between some of the UI theme plugins (such as Material UI) and the default settings, and you have to mess around with the settings quite a bit before you get it to work.

So it is possible to effect a change--but it is ridiculously complicated. In my view, there is really no excuse for this feature not being better developed.


I have made my own nice editor's colors preset, it's based on standard IntelliJ theme.

And my problem is that I want one more thing:  a dark background instead of a "leaking-eyes-white", but I don't want to use any other themes because they brake my own editor's colors preset.

How can I cange only background in the whole IDEA's UI ?


You can't do it without changing the IDE theme. IDE theme should not affect your editor theme. These 2 are separate and can be configured individually.


@Serge Baranov: indeed, drakula theme preserved editor settings.. but I really like default IntelliJ theme except for white background in UI.

Also on new 2018.3 I'm missing "Export settings.. " menu action. I cannot export/import settings. That's wierd !! How am I supposed to do it now?

There is also: "customizable toolwindow background colors -- FEATURE REQUEST"

Where it's said:

"Konstantin Bulenkov  commented 23 Oct 2018 20:05

It’s only possible by using themes. Documentation for theming will be available after 2018.3 release "
So it seems that I should create my own theme.. not a big deal :) I definitely will.

Exporting settings is disabled when JetBrains account settings synchronization is used.


This is one of the worst parts of using PyCharm, you simply cannot change the IDE theme apart from the 3 provided, otherwise you need to Plugins like Material Color Schemes but that is not really very ideal as you get lot of bloatware if you just want a single theme. There needs to be a better way for doing like in vscode its pretty trivial to do so..


@Serge Baranov  Can you let us know how can you update just the IDE theme ?


IDE theme customization is coming in 2019.1 release.


Okay, cool and when is this scheduled to release ?


Ok I see it is coming in March 2019 i guess.


I just downloaded the EAP version for pycharm 2019 but i do not see this feature.


It's work in progress, documentation will come later.


So is this feature not released in EAP as well, because I could find any such new menu or feature or customize IDE look and feel.


I still do not see this feature coming in any of the EAP versions as well ?


Theme designer/editor is not ready yet.


Okay, thanks for the information, any ETA if you don't mind.


The support will be available in 2019.1


And when is that scheduled for release ?


Preliminary date is the end of March. However, functionality should be already available in Early Access Program or via


I still see only the existing color schemes in Appearance section, though there are few new custom UI themes in the market place. Also for theme designer, does it require additional plugin to create your own custom theme >?


The situation is still pretty appalling. Some of the color schemes (including one I like for the editor) sets the projects area to be be so dark, that I can't see the files. WebStorm is so great in so many ways, but there is a real usability gap, and having to spend time just so I can SEE THE LIST OF FILES is absurd. A few months ago I set to some dark theme, and can't stand it. Tried to change it to the lighter scheme, but the project area is unusable.


That doesn't help. What helped was closing the editor and reopening, testing all the themes, and choosing the only one I could stand to use. (closing and reopening was key here. I think that's a bug... that setting a theme didn't actually change it until I left WebStorm and came back in.)

Jetbrains  staff should do more usability testing. Not so much science... but just working with users... along the lines of the book "Don't Make Me Think."  Watch people with their struggles. Sure you can change the theme, but when you realize that two windows with dark background are almost impossible to see as different windows... and the little hints in the right bar are too confusing with the dark background... and want to change it back... That it's deeply annoying. The annoyances should be factored into development. I wish you could see what a struggle it was to try to get the file list to show up in a usable way. And those advanced settings are not a solution. Usability testing is going to be key here... watching real people do real things with your software. (and such basic things like choose a workable theme, without having to go deep into very custom settings options). I really do hope JetBrains staff buy that old-but-good book, and read it. It was designed for website usability, but the same strategy can work for software usability setting. In essence bring people in (a diverse group, not just 20-something guys), ask them to do stuff, and watch what takes too long to get done.


Intellij, please simplify things. One place to change a theme, not 2.