How to Fix File Explorer Dark Theme Not Working on Windows 10

Dark theme not working on Windows 10? Find out how you can fix it

With the release of Windows 10 Anniversary Update, Microsoft finally included a Dark Mode option, allowing the user to personalize the appearance of Windows 10. Thus, users were no longer limited to just a handful of color customization options limited to the taskbar and window frames. They could now change the window background color which is ideal for knight owls. Although Dark Mode has been around for a while now, some users found it not to work.

Before Dark Theme was officially included in Windows 10, users had to resort to editing the Windows Registry to get the desired dark theme. However, this method of changing the theme color was limited to advanced Windows. This left casual users stuck with using the regular theme with white File Explorer window backgrounds that are a nuisance for some users who use their computers during nighttime a lot.

How to Fix File Explorer Dark Theme Not Working on Windows 10

Dark theme reduces the glare that causes eye fatigue during prolonged sessions. In addition, Dark Theme improves contrast, making the content more visible and hiding passive interface elements.

The dark theme definitely has advantages in specific settings, but some users have stated that they can’t use Dark Theme for one reason or another.

Since this problem has occurred to many people, the larger Internet community has, over time, analyzed this issue, determined the causes for the problem, and developed ways to fix it. There are three causes for Windows 10 not to work.

Apparently, Dark Theme won’t work correctly as previous Windows 10 versions had bugs and glitches present in the beta release of the Dark Theme. Microsoft has since released a patch that you can get while installing updates for Windows. If you had Windows 10 updates disabled. Now it’s a good time to enable them and get rid of the bugs related to the Dark Theme and more.

However, some users have reported having issues setting Dark Theme on Windows 10 build 1809. They can set the colors to dark mode, but File Explorer won’t go into dark mode. The 1809 build was recalled due to numerous issues and was later re-released with bug fixes. So, if you have an older version of 1809, we advise you to run Windows Update to get the latest patches and fixes.

The second reason why you may have problems with the dark theme is if you used Mach2 and similar tools. Before the Windows 10 dark theme was released, people used Mach2 (mach2.sln), an open-source tool for enabling hidden Windows features to enable Dark Theme. So, you may experience issues now that Microsoft has properly released this feature, and Mach2’s settings are in conflict with Windows 10 settings.

Lastly, there’s a bug that makes File Explorer windows only partially dark. Regardless of how many updates Microsoft releases, this issue continues to persist no matter what. Fortunately, however, you can go around this bug by either applying the default theme and using the standard background image or reapplying Dark Theme a few times.

So, if you’re experiencing problems setting the dark theme for File Explorer in Windows 10, or if it’s buggy, try the solutions below. We’ve made step-by-step guides for each solution. However, you may have to try several methods before you find the one that works for you.

Table of Contents:

Method 1. Update Windows 10 to the latest build

The first fix you should try is to run Windows Update to get the latest Windows 10 build that will include all of the patches and fixes relevant to Dark Mode. Running Windows Update is mostly relevant to you if your PC is running Windows 10 build 1809. If automatic updates have been disabled/paused for your Windows 10 PC. Here’s how you can enable them.

Right-click Start Menu and click Settings

1. Right-click the Start Menu button and click Settings.

Click Update & Security

2. Select Update & Security.

Click Check for Updates

3. Click Check for updates.

Click Install now

4. Or Install now in case Windows has already checked for the most recent updates.

Click Resume updates

5. If updates on your PC have been paused, click Resume updates.

Windows Update may ask you to restart the PC to install some updates.

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Method 2. Reapply Dark Mode

Some users have solved this problem by going to the personalization settings menu and applying Dark Mode for File Explorer a few times. The important thing here is to keep applying Dark Mode until it sticks and doesn’t revert back to Light Mode.

Right-click Start Menu and click Settings

1. Right-click the Start Menu and click Settings.

Select personalization

2. Click Personalization.

Select Colors

3. On the left side of the window, click Colors.

Tick Dark for both default Windows mode and default apps mode

4. If Custom was selected under the Choose your color drop-down menu, tick Dark for both default Windows mode and default app mode.

Tick Dark

5. Alternatively, if the Light theme was selected, open the Choose your color drop-down menu and select Dark.

Reapply Dark Mode until it eventually sticks and stays like that.

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Method 3. Set the default theme

While themes are not a new thing, Windows 10 allows you to customize it a great deal. The important thing here is that Windows 10 won’t allow you to set Dark Mode unless you’re using the default theme. Here’s how you can set it.

Right-click Start and click Settings

1. Right-click the Start Menu and click Settings.

Select Personalization

2. Click Personalization.

Select Themes

3. Click Themes.

Select the default Windows 10 theme

4. Select the default Windows theme.

Select Colors

5. Then, click Colors.

Tick Dark under the Choose your default app mode

6. Tick Dark mode for apps.

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Method 4. Set Dark Mode via Registry Editor

If you’re still having problems with setting Dark mode for File Explorer, you can try setting it through Windows Registry Editor. It should be noted that editing Windows Registry entries is risky if you don’t know what you’re doing, as any mistakes could have an adverse effect on your PC. Therefore, exercise caution and follow the guide to the letter.

1. Hold down Windows+R keys to open the Run dialog box.

In the Run dialog box, type in regedit and click OK

2. Type in regedit and click OK to open the Registry Editor.

Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionThemes

3. Then, on the left panel of the Registry Editor, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Themes

Right-click Themes and go to New and select Key

4. Once at the Themes key, right-click the Themes key, click New and then select Key.

Name the New key as Personalize

5. Name the new key Personalize.

Right-click the new Personalize key and go to New and select DWORD (32 bit) Value

6. Then, right-click the new Personalize key, select New, then select DWORD (32 bit) Value.

Name the new DWORD as AppsUseLightTheme

7. Name the registry DWORD (REG_DWORD) as AppsUseLightTheme. 

Right-click AppsUseLightTheme and click Modify

8. let its Data set to 0. Check if the Data value is set to 0 by right-clicking AppsUseLightTheme and clicking Modify.

Make sure value data is set to 0

9. Value data should be set to 0 by default. If not, Set 0 as Value data, and click OK.

Right-click Personalize and select Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER

10. Now right-click the Personalize registry key and select Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER.

Right-click the AppsUseLightTheme and click Modify

11. Here, you will find the same DWORD (REG_DWORD) named AppsUseLightTheme. Right-click AppsUseLightTheme registry DWORD and click Modify.

Set the Value data to 0

12. Set 0 as its Value data.

13. Close Registry Editor and enjoy Windows 10 in Dark Mode.

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Video guide on how to fix File Explorer Dark Theme not working on Windows 10

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About the author:

Tomas Meskauskas

I am passionate about computer security and technology. I have an experience of 10 years working in various companies related to computer technical issue solving and Internet security. I have been working as an editor for pcrisk.com since 2010. Follow me on Twitter to stay informed about the latest tech news or online security threats. Contact Tomas Meskauskas.

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