Enabling Dark Theme in SQL Management Studio 18

Microsoft is working on a Dark theme for their SQL Management Studio (SSMS), but it's still not ready for "prime time". However, we can enable it and get a preview while Microsoft is working on it. This works for SQL Management Studio 18 and higher (the current version as of this writing is 18.8).

  • go to the folder C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio 18\Common7\IDE
  • find a file named ssms.pkgundef
  • edit the file and scroll to the bottom to locate the following two lines:
// Remove Dark theme

[$RootKey$\Themes\{1ded0138-47ce-435e-84ef-9ec1f439b749}]
  • and simply add two forward slashes at the beginning of the second line to comment it out: 
// Remove Dark theme

// [$RootKey$\Themes\{1ded0138-47ce-435e-84ef-9ec1f439b749}]

Now, if you start up SSMS and go to Tools > Options and click the Color Theme drop down, you'll see "Dark" as an option. It's not completely done - really it just darkens the parent window, menus, toolbars and the main query area. Other areas (such as the Object Explorer and the Results pane) are not themed yet. But it is still better than nothing!