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How to set light theme for apps with Windows 10 dark theme

The new Light theme on Windows 10 isn’t the best that Microsoft has put out. The default theme on Windows 10 before 1903 was released was much, much better. The current light theme has odd UI problems such as no color on the taskbar. If you prefer to use the dark theme on Windows 10, but would still like to use the light theme for app, you can easily do so. Here’s how.

Light theme for apps

Open the Settings  app and go to the Personalization group of settings. Select the Color tab, and open the ‘Select your color’ dropdown. Select ‘Custom’.

Once you select ‘Custom’, you have the option to set the default Windows mode, and the default app mode separately. Scroll down and select ‘Dark’ under ‘Choose your default Windows mode’, and under ‘Choose your default app mode’, select ‘Light’. You can also reverse this i.e., set the default Windows mode to light, and the default app mode to dark.

That should do the trick. All your apps, and all context menus will follow the theme you set for ‘default app mode’. The Start Menu and the taskbar will follow whatever theme you set under ‘default Windows mode’.

If you’re wondering what happens when you set the same theme for Windows and app mode, it will basically just change the ‘Custom’ selection to either Light or Dark depending on what you selected.

Since this is Windows 10, changing themes sometimes doesn’t work. Some items do not switch over to the selected theme. If that happens, close the app and run it again. If that still doesn’t work, restart your system.

This will apply to all apps and if you’re looking to exclude just one or two apps from whichever theme is applied, that’s not possible. The only exception to this is Chrome. You can have Chrome run in light mode or dark mode while using a different theme for Windows 10.

While it’s pretty easy to determine what the apps mode and the Windows 10 mode is, it is not as obvious what applies to the menus. Windows 10 treats menus like apps so if you set the app mode to ‘light’, the menus will all be white. Likewise, if you set the app mode to ‘dark’, the menus will be dark as well. It’s a bit disappointing that the menus can’t be forced to follow the same theme as the Windows mode but there isn’t much that can done about it.

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