How-To Geek

Change The Default Color Scheme In Office 2007

The Microsoft Office 2007 color scheme certainly fits in Windows Vista, but fortunately for those of us unhappy with so much light blue, the color scheme can be changed.

This tip works the same whether you are using Access, Word, Excel, or PowerPoint – if you change the color in one, it changes the color in all Microsoft Office applications.  Since the steps are the same we will use Word as the example.

Click on the Microsoft Office Button then click on Word Options.

Click on Popular and and then use the “Color Scheme” drop down arrow to choose between Blue, Silver or Black then click OK.

For this I chose Black, you can choose whichever color you prefer (silver looks pretty good).  Now if you open Access, Word, Excel, or PowerPoint the color will be changed also.  But what about Outlook?  Keep reading!

Oddly enough, you have to open a new email in Outlook 2007 in order to see the Microsoft Office button. Once you are there, then you can click on “Editor Options”, and then follow the same steps as above.

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 05/14/07

Comments (79)

  1. hank

    Outlook is changed at the same time as the other office 2007 products. change any product disply option and it changes all office 2–7 products ( at least in 2007 Ultimate).

  2. G

    can it be changed to colours other than balck, blue or silver?

  3. mysticgeek

    G –
    Not that I am aware of without 3rd party software.

  4. Rochelle Cotten

    How to I change the color of a hyperlink in 2007 Powerpoint?

  5. Nio

    …I the past few weeks, since I switched to Office2007, every time I opened any of the Office applications I would gag & wanted to throw when looking @ the default hospital-blue…

    Now I only see “BLACK? and feel as if I was born-again!!!!
    Thanks How2Geek Team!!!

    P.S. I have Office Ultimate 2007… when I changed the color under Word, it also changed it on Outlook..

  6. JP Van

    So much for wanting to be colorfully creative!! This could be a Russian product before perestroika and glasnost!! Bland blue or silver and dreary black….. and you cannot vary between products… how very un-Microsoft.

  7. Dan Merkel

    On earlier versions of Word, I used a dark blue background. It helped tremendously (I have sight problems). Can something like this no longer be done now???



  8. Shawn Mannen

    What third party applications can change it to other colors?

  9. Stephen White

    That’s easy enough, but does anyone know how I can set the color scheme globally across my network. The ADM templates for Office 2007 do not provide any settings for doing this. Is this setting stored in the registry, and if so… where???

    I have spent a considerable amount of time branding our desktop experience here, right down to the very last detail, so it is quite annoying that I can’t control the colour of Office 2007.\

    Any ideas?

  10. Stephen White

    Found it: HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Common\Theme. Because it’s a user key it’ll have to be a logon script.

  11. The Geek


    Very interesting… I might have to do something with that, thanks!

  12. Stephen White

    OK, Well here is the Custom ADM Template I have written for Group Policy. Works a treat:

    CATEGORY “Custom Office 2007 Config”
    POLICY “Color Scheme”
    KEYNAME “Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Common”
    EXPLAIN “Allows you to control the Office 2007 Colour Scheme.”
    PART “Pick the colour from the list” TEXT
    VALUENAME “Theme”

  13. Alberto Varela

    Hi, i am visually imparied and cannot see the Office 2007 color schemes.
    I use high contrast black, and I can use Office XP without any problem (because Office XP uses the Windows colors),
    Unfortunately, in Office 2007 I can only use one of the 3 color schemes available, and cannot modify them or create a new one that fits my needs.
    Do you know if it is possible to create a new color scheme (i.e. by using any programming software)?
    Thanks for your help.

  14. Shawn Stambaugh

    I have a user in Alberto’s position. She cannot see the poor contrast screen elements in Office 2007. I knew Vista was guilty of this ‘style’. I have to agree with my user that the visibility is poorer than before, even with good eyes.

    Where are the add-on products that can improve the visual appearance?

  15. JackH

    I couldn’t care less about the menu bar which is the only thing that changes with the color setting. With a program like Outlook with so much on the screen (I have mine set to folders left, emails middle, and the reading pane on the right), everything looks washed out/faded. I can barely see the pale blue flags and boxes to the right of the emails or the highlight bar.

  16. Rosemary Sladden

    I am unable to continue with the 2007 set up I need a blue page screen and white text. I get migrains and can see the white page with the black text will give me head aches.
    who do I contact to get an add in to correct this problem?
    Never had a problem with word before. only got the horrible programme because i can’t open stuff people send me in word 2007.

  17. Bill

    Similar to a few of you I do not like the color schemes. It is MUCH harder to see than previous version. The contrast and definition is just not there. Performance-wise, 2003 is faster at least for the applications and previous files I have as well. Have had more crashes and problems in 2007 than in 2003.

    Anyways, there is supposed to be a download for 2003 that enables support for files saved in 2007. I have not tried and it states you need to have all high priority updates current but you’re welcome to read about and try it…

  18. Bomarc

    This is not useful. Office is using non-standard colors, and one can NOT tell the difference between active and non active windows. How do I get the colors to match the “Windows” standard that I’ve selected? (65 million colors, and you can choose THREE)

  19. DML

    I don’t have sight problems but I find all the Office 2007 colour schemes are hard on the eyes due to the low contrast. For this reason I am sticking to Office 2003 with the add-in to open Office 2007 files and Mozilla Thunderbird for e-mail.

  20. Sniper121

    I found out about the color scheme early on after installing MS Office 2007 Pro, but right now, for the life of me I do not know how to correct my Office Button color, which is basically Black on a White background. And the appearance of Word 2007 is also unusual, it has a green border instead of the black scheme. I do hope that my image code will be displayed in this comment box. If not, I’ll provide the direct html link to my photobucket album beneath it.
    Image code: [IMG][/IMG]
    Direct link:
    Html code:

    I want to get it back to default color mode, so if you know how, please let me know.

  21. Sniper121

    I found the solution to my question above. My desktop display appearance settings were changed by a family member, and they used the Display Properties\Appearance tab to change the look of desktop apps to Windows Classic style Buttons and Windows, with the High Contrast White color scheme, and the two color choices for the active title bar was set to Teal. I changed it back to the appearance settings I liked and it solved my problem with Office looking like the picture in the Direct Link above.

  22. Dave

    I have normal vision but found the new low contrast Office 7 stuff just ridiculous – really hard to see – I pity folks with vision problems, and the vaunted “accessibilty options” give us over-the-top contrast stuff – just a mid setting of say double the contrast would be good. Meanwhile thanks for showing me how to set it all to black – that’s a ton better. Nice if microsoft gave us a choice of two colors, any intensity, instead of just misty shades of light blue – gad!

  23. Dave

    I can’t beleive what an apalling choice of colors Microsoft have given us in Office 2007. It would take nothing for them to change this and I hope they realise how ridiculous they are for not doing so.

  24. Rick

    One solution I have found is Open Office.
    In the options under Appearance you can change to nearly any color.
    The new version 3.0 will read any office document even .docx ect.
    It is very similar to office 2003 in many ways and a short learning curve compared to office 2007.
    It even has the traditional menu based interface as office 2003.
    It is also free and open source.
    It can also run at the same time as office 2007.

    Everyone in my organization is starting to move to Open Office because of these and other problems.
    I personally have wasted tens of hours trying to figure out haw to do things which were simple before.
    I also get headaches with the standard 3 color settings, black is better but after an hour or so I may as well go home.

    Just my opinion, take it or leave it.

  25. Tim C

    I’ve just been moved from Office 2003 to Office 2007 at work. Whilst a change in what one is used to is always a jolt, I found that it was mostly just a matter of getting used to where things were. The one thing I can’t cope with is not being able to change colour scheme from the useless 3 that are built in. They are obviously designed by those wanting to make a fashion statement, who don’t actually need to do any work using Office. Is Microsoft trying to prepare us for the next version of Office where perhaps they will have the ultimate simplicity: a choice of only black text on a black background, light grey text on a light grey background, or sky blue text on a sky blue background?

    I’m glad I use Open Office at home. If anyone has found a way to change colour schemes from the unworkable ones supplied, I’d love to know. Searches so far have just turned up sites like this which suggest we’re stuck with the colour schemes provided.

  26. ed

    try this: Go to tab Page Layout then Page Color, choose which color fit you! dark background will automatically change your font color tobe white.

  27. Paul

    ^^^^ That changes the _document_. Folks here want to change the appearance of the program window itself.

    The irony is, a well-behaved “standard” Windows app should ALWAYS have the option of “no” color scheme, that is, it inherits the colors selected in the Windows Display Properties. So M$ manages to violate both its own application standard and the ADA in one swell foop.

    Will they ever learn when to leave well enough alone? And no, this isn’t meant as a snide comment, it’s an honest question. Will there be a version of Office that simply does nothing with colors, and lets the OS settings prevail? Or might there be some hidden registry setting or the like that makes this happen?

  28. Richard

    Paul, I think the answer to your question is OpenOffice – I’ve used it quite a bit on Linux, and after just experiencing the travesty that is Office 2007 on a work laptop running XP, I’m installing it there as well.

  29. ophir

    great !!! excectly what i was searching for.

  30. Meiam

    Thank you Ed!!! That helps my eyes tremendously and still prints normally.

    Ed wrote: Go to tab Page Layout then Page Color, choose which color fit you! dark background will automatically change your font color to be white.

  31. James

    I found a way to change the Office 2007 application colors in Vista.

    Go to Control Panel/Personalization/Window Color and Appearance, and at the bottom click on “Open classic appearance properties for more color options”. Choose a color scheme you want to modify, and then click on the “Advanced” button. From there you can customize the workspace colors, and they will update in Office after choosing apply from the “Appearance” tab.

  32. Chris

    Is there a way to make the Page Layout, Page Color default to a dark color like black? I can change it for each document but I want it to default to black page color so I don’t burn my eyeballs out with the white background.

  33. Rosemary Sladden

    I think you have to save as a template Chris. That way you can open the template and it will stay with the page the colour you want.
    Thanks ed makes my eyes feel much better.

  34. Pottery

    Good comments and tips here. It’s great to get rid of the hospital blue. Thanks. However, I find it interesting that the author of this page chose the same abominable color for the Meet the Author and Leave a Comment boxes. Hmmmm.

  35. Christopher

    James is wrong. The procedure he describes using the control panel does NOT affect Office 97. I don’t think he understands the problem. Office 2007 is awful. I wish I had never had it installed when I bought my computer. Why can’t I change the colour to what I want – or at least to those Windows has – as set by the personalisation in the Control Panel?

  36. Tom

    Office 2007 is great.
    It offers more customization and tweaking previous versions.
    And much better and than the open office crap.
    Regardsless of what has been mentioned above I do like MsOffice.
    Only thing that could be better is that they should make it more modular in design. In a way that I can remove modules that I do not need and .

  37. Paolo

    Probably you’re right and it allows for even more customization than before. However, what bothers me is that I am not able to change the appearance to match the color schema selected in the control panel of Windows XP, so that I have a standard appearance of any window on my screens and, even more important, I don’t fatigue my eyes as it happens now with any of the three “candyland” color schemes.

    If you could explain me and all the other people in pain how to achieve this with Office 2007, I’d really appreciate it and take your point.


  38. marshall

    Thank you for this tip. The default color was killing my eyes.
    Does anyone know if there is a way to change the contrast? They way it is now, with my perfect eyesight even i have trouble distinguishing which tabs are highlighted. Very annoying! There is such a thing as too much style you know.

  39. Houston

    We cleared up a lot of trouble reading Office 2007 files by deselecting:
    “Always use ClearType” box under the Options – Popular window in an application. ClearType made it fuzzy with poor contrast.

  40. Germain

    I am game for trying someone’s third party creation that will allow me to set my MS Office 2007 Suite back to my chosen Windows color scheme.
    Would any one in the world be willing to give me a chance to try their software out?
    : – )

  41. Richard W

    ClearType is an anti-aliasing technology designed for use with LCD screens. If you have an LCD screen DO NOT TURN IT OFF. It will actually make your text HARDER to read if you do.

    Also, it appears that Office 2010 will change many of the things you are currently complaining about in Office 2007.

    Having said that, I have not found an easier version of Office to use then Office 2007. I also use Office 2008 on my Mac and the two are now enough alike that I am not lost between the two. Once you spend a little bit of time with Office 2007 you find that most things are in fact MUCH easier and much faster then in previous versions.

    I do think they could have given us more options for color schemes for the UI, but then they where trying to make a product that had to span at least two if not three different OS’s. If they had made 2007 only Vista and higher, then it could have used the Aero design elements. That would have gone a long way to fix many of these complaints.

    Just my 2 cents.

  42. Colin

    The main problem I have is when I have several Word, Excel and other files open, they all have the same panel colour and it takes me longer to find & navigate between them.

    Under the previous versions of Office, Excel was green, Word was blue etc and different files were more distinguishable.

    All the steps above seem to let you change the colour of *all* office apps. I would like to be able to change just one (eg. Excel to green, leaving Word blue).

    How can I do this?

  43. Colin

    Does anyone have any ideas on setting the different components within Office to have *different* colours?

  44. Bill

    Why do we only get a choice of 3 colors for the ribbon, and NO choice for the default screen color of a spreadsheet? Since I work in a large office, I don’t have the freedom to reject Excel 2007 – and the bright colors bother my eyes 8 hours per day. Fancy colors are great for charts and pictures, but for documents or spreadsheets that will only be printed on BW printers – amber on green was the easiest on our eyes! Did no one tell MS of this during beta testing??

  45. Ki

    How do I minimize the large pictures in Word, Excel and Outlook.

  46. Ki

    Sorry the Large Buttons with Short cut pictures on them.

  47. Alex

    How do we add color choices? Blue, silver, or black don’t move me.

  48. Dave Brown

    Office 2010 has exactly the same color choices :-( I am really starting to develop a substantial reservoir of hate for that orange highlight that appears in all the schemes.

  49. Archie

    The orange highlight makes me sick and the white on gray gives me headache.

  50. Fred

    If you lose track of the email you selected for example in your inbox due to the stupid highlighting simply click on a different folder, maybe sent items and then click on your inbox again and the last email you had selected should be highlighted again in a higher contrast.

    Tom, you are very clearly the odd one out here. You’re eighter a ms employee or a little boy. So unless you have a positive contribution to make shut up about Open Source software.

  51. preston

    shot you saved me

  52. sanjaya

    Hello there,
    Is there a way to change the default white page in the office 2007, the high contrast started giving me headache i have seen a few of my frens using a chinese software which enables changing the white paper colours so that the contrast is not so high and is friendly for the eyes, if only there was some way in office 2007 that would be great………..
    If anyone has any idea just pass it on


  53. J M

    Can be done – here are instructions for Office 2007 on Windows XP. May differ on other versions of windows.

    -> Control panel
    -> accessibility options
    -> display tab
    -> switch on high contrast (don’t worry – end result need not be high contrast)
    -> settings button
    -> choose colour scheme that most closely resembles what you want (can tweak later)
    -> apply and exit back to control panel
    -> Display
    -> Appearance tab
    -> Advanced button
    -> Fine tune colours and apply

    Office 2007 will honour these colour settings because they have been set up using accessibility options. Even though you used the ‘high contrast’ check box to make this happen you can just as easily set low contrast colour schemes and these will be honoured too. The only drawback – windows will display in old fashioned style without 3d shading and lighting effects.

  54. gerald

    this is so help full thank you so much..

  55. jess

    how come i cant click on ‘popular’ in the word options? i can only select the bottom four.

  56. Dimitri

    JM you are a lifesaver! I had just about given up and resigned myself to the unreadable blue-on-blue theme. What a bunch of clowns at MS!

  57. Jodie

    Anyone know if you can change the colour scheme on Microsoft Office on a Mac OSX ??? Sorry if it says it somewhere up there ^^ but I can’t be bummed to read them all. :) Thanks!!!

  58. You all

    He all,

    I have one sentence for all of you after read most of the comments:

    Stop whining about it, do something about it.

    You don’t like it? Change to, but stop complaining about freaking office 2007/2010….

    If you really want to change it that much, go and code your own Office pack… Give the guys who made this a break will ya… If you make something that is crap, you don’t like it when people are being so freaking stupid about… You would like to have honest commentary, but frankly, this exceeds honesty by 100 miles…

    So, major lesson of live! Stop complaining, start doing!

  59. help

    does anyone know how to change the text field color of microsoft excel 2007?

  60. Sheerah

    Hello Everyone,

    There is a way to change the color of the page in Microsoft Word 2007.

    1. Go to the “Page Layout” tab.
    2. In the third box, the “Page Background” box, click “Page Color.”
    3. Select whatever dark background you prefer. The text will automatically become white.

    That way, you won’t have to type on a plain white background.

    Hope this helps.


  61. sweets

    thank you.

  62. sweets

    thank you.!

  63. Frustrated

    Who was the idiot that came up with this email format? Does anyone know if this is even ADA compatible? The tips above did help get rid of that light blue format. Thanks.

  64. Mark

    Many Thanks to J M, for sharing how to make MS Office 2007 applications indicate which is the active window via an obvious title bar color change. Setting “high contrast” under accessibility options works for me on Windows XP. For those of us with a good amount of screen real estate this is huge b/c I can tell which window has the focus before typing into it. Note that many icons look pixelated and Google Chrome doesn’t seem to subscribe to the colors specified.

  65. kalyani

    its very help ful

  66. Erik

    If you would like to change the color of your theme for any office 2007 program you can simply use the registry.
    1. Open Run and type “regedit”
    2. Open HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\
    3. Click the “Common” folder
    4. In the common folder you will find “Themes”. Double click “Themes”.
    5. Change the Hexadecimal value to the following:
    1 = Blue
    2 = Silver
    3 = Black
    6. Close the registry editor and open office. The theme should be updated to reflect the registry key.
    Warmest Regards,
    Erik Mjelde

  67. Walter S.

    I’m using Office 2010 on Win7

    JM’s way is somewhat different for Win7 – but before you try read below (1):
    -> Control panel
    -> Display
    -> Personalization
    -> Select one of the High Contrast Themes (don’t worry – end result need not be high contrast). ‘Windows Classic’ scheme will not work – only the High Contrast Themes have an influence on Office!
    -> Click ‘Windows Color’ and set up Colors you want – it migth be a good idea to write down all colors and attributes of a Color Scheme you like. I took the settings from my WinXP Notebook (right click Desktop -> Properties -> Appearance -> Advanced: you have to copy the settings of the 15 or so items)
    -> enter the values on your Win7 PC (leave ‘Disabled Item’ and color ‘Hyperlink’ deep blue – those 2 are new in Win7; do not change Item size from 20 to 18 as it is on WinXP (e.g. Active Title Bar) – will not look good on Win7)
    -> Apply
    -> Click on ‘Save theme’ and store under a name you like

    By the way: your custom scheme get’s stored in C:\Users\%USER%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Themes. Some themes get moved to a subdirectory but are still available in Display -> Personalization – I do not understand this yet. Themes have got the extention ‘.theme’ but are simple Windows .INI-files – so they can be looked at with a program editor.

    (1) JM’s way: nice! But please consider: You will not be able to change back everything with ‘Windows Color’ while a ‘High Contrast’-Theme is activated. Some changes are bound to the ‘High Contrast’-Themes. Check on:
    – Close button of the applications becomes ugly!
    – In serveral places normal fonts will be replaced by bold fonts. This costs readability!
    – IE or Firefox: Content will be rendered different! In one case the buttons to click disappeared – well maybe just blanked out! This was the worst problem I found. Then I switched back to a standard theme.
    My conclusion: Do NOT use ‘High Contrast’ schemes under Win7 if you are not visually impaired.

    (2) I tried to understand what user Erik explained in the registry. However: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\ does not have “Themes” in the “Common” folder.

    Personal opinion:
    It can not be, that Microsoft’s flagship applications use a different way to change their outlook then thousands of other Windows applications – they just have to look the same way. Period. I use a modified Wheat-Color-Scheme that is very comfy for the eyes. But there are now just those few Office applications confusing me by different colorisation and not showing which window is active.

    If this is the price to be paid for the ribbons interface then I can only say: remove the ribbons!

    The only reason the whole ribbon stuff had to be invented was MS’s wrong decison to hide unused menue points in Office. No miracle office users do not find the commands if they are hidden most of the time!

  68. Walter S.

    Using JM solution I found mor problems: e.g. Lotus Notes will switch to a High Contrast Mode too.

    Usually you unopend Mails in red, opend in black. High Contrast Mode will exactly change the coloring and add use some different fonts too….

    This PC user wonders what it brings to exchange red -> black and black -> red at the same time. He would suppose that half of the messages are still unreadable…

    Taking into consideration all the havoc applied to Windows I only can advise against agains using High Contrast themes

  69. King Ook

    Cut my teeth on WordPerfect 5.1 a long while ago…

    Now I’m starting to get old (natural causes) and is looking at ways and means of forcing Office2007 of using the same color scheme as WP5.1 (blue background, white text).

    Found this page, along with some suggestions on how to beat it into submission. Will try it, of course…

  70. the voice of reason

    Does anyone know how to filter out all the suggestions that tell us about OpenOrifice.
    This would cut the size of this thread down to a more manageable level and leave only relevant information. :-)

  71. umesh

    wow that was quick & easy thanks :)

  72. tom

    james you hit the nail on the head, (see 09 comment) i followed your excellent post and ive changed all my colors to white text to black background,, bye bye eye blear! tom

  73. Katrina


  74. JonE

    Erik’s approach is the right one, and WORKS, however there was one small thing in his post that needs correction – follow this:

    1. Click “Start’, select “Run” and type “regedit” then click “OK”
    2. Navigate the registry folders to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\
    3. Click the “Common” folder in the left hand pane
    4. Check to see if you have a value within “Common” called “Theme” (not “Themes”) – if you do, jump to step 7, otherwise refer to the next step
    5. Right-click in the right hand pane, and select New->DWORD value
    6. Edit the name of your new DWORD value to “Theme” (not “Themes”)
    7. Right-click the “Theme” value and select “Modify”, and change the value of to one of the following numbers:
    1 for Blue
    2 for Silver
    3 for Black
    8. Close the registry editor and open office. The theme should be updated to reflect the registry value.

  75. Abbi

    Thanks It worked

  76. Michgal2k

    I have office 2007 and Win 7 – I seem to have lost my color scheme!! Doesn’t seem to matter if I select 1 – 2 or 3, the color doesnot show up on anything!! Not word, not excel not outlook.
    Not sure hwat happened – was there when I first installed but not anymore. Can anyone help me? The stark white on Black is killing my eyes.
    Thanks in advance!

  77. senatorhung

    JM’s way of using the high contrast setting does work to get the active window title bar to be highlighted in your chosen colour. i’d recommend that once you’ve gotten a high contrast theme edited the way you like, to save it before you do anything else. but there are still 2 issues that i encounter with this fix:

    1. colours in excel get disabled, including fonts, cell colours, tab colours, and even the red number colouring option for negative numbers. the colours are still there, and will show up when printed (or cut and pasted into another document), but you can’t see them unless you toggle out of high-contrast.

    2. however, if you toggle the high contrast setting (ALT-LEFT_SHIFT-PRINT SCREEN), you will revert back to the windows default setting for all windows and the desktop colour. re-toggling into high contrast will return you to your originally selected high contrast setting, and you will have to go into your display settings to go back to your desired theme (you did save it right ?).

    sadly, i use colours alot in excel, so i won’t be able to use the high contrast fix. i’m just wondering if someone could kludge whatever high contrast setting is doing to distinguish the active title bar, and make that available as its own little toggle-able utility. i’d pay for that !

  78. Sahil

    i want a colour scheme of office 2010 for office 2007

  79. Sam

    I am trying to put a header on my paper in Word 2007 and everytime I click out of it it turns back to a light gray and I need it to be black can you help me ASAP

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