Managing themes on Windows version

To begin with, I would like to say I love Scrivener 3 for Windows and it is an irreplaceable software for me that I work in every day.

However, since it came out, I have trouble figuring out how to manage themes…

First of all, whenever I try to customize any other theme than “Default”, it doesn’t allow me to change the color of the entire Binder column (as you can see in the printscreen).

[attachment=0]Snímek obrazovky 2021-04-30 100521.png[/attachment]

Secondly, I can’t find any way to save my customized theme as .scrtheme so it would appear in the “Windows → Themes” menu. I want to be able to switch between my customized themes quickly without having to go to “Options” every time to load it from a file. In “Options → Manage” menu there are two options: “Save Options to File …” and “Save Theme Options to File …” – both of these create preference file (.pref), not the theme file (.scrtheme).

And third, where can I find themes created by other users to download? There are plenty made for Mac version of Scrivener, however, they have different extension (.stheme) which makes them unusable on Windows version. Is there maybe any way to convert them or something? I mean, in “Options → Manage” there clearly is an option to load .scrtheme files (“Load Theme from File …” and “Import Themes …”) but I have no idea where to get those files when a) I can’t make any and b) I can’t download any.

Is there something I overlooked maybe? Or will this be fixed/implemented in one of the future updates? Thank you for any help and suggestions.

(Sorry for any mistakes, English is not my first language.)

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The screenshot proves you CAN change the Binder background, I think … or was that weird color in one of the built in themes? (Maybe.) I had no trouble loading a theme (grey matter), changing the Binder color, and saving a new theme. The tricky part is where to put them, but that’s not a large problem either. I clicked on Manage->Reveal Imported Themes folder and added it to Quick Access (a Win10 feature). That makes it easy to find when I want to save or load a theme. (I’ll never want to do that, but still.)

Thanks for the reply, drmajorbob!

My problem with the Binder background is it won’t allow me to change color of the whole column except for the “Default” theme – for the rest of the themes, color behind the arrows in the menu remains without any change. Now, it wouldn’t bother me if I was able to change the color of the rest of the interface by myself within the “Default” theme (for example, make all the bars and menus black) but that’s not the case, unfortunately.

[attachment=0]binder background.jpg[/attachment]

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Hi, I am debating whether to upgrade to 3 from 1. I, too, am having problems with the themes and changes to only part of the background. The reason, I was trying this is that I find tiny greyed icons very difficult to see and differentiate. Also the use of a pastel shade to the font rather than a good strong black or dark colour does not make it easy for me. Any simple tweaks to make the main screens more readable, please?

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I have the same problem. Tried it for almost 2 hours and then gave up. Works on the default theme, but not on any other theme. Changes on the default theme are not saveable as an own theme. Would love to have this fixed. Looks just stupid the way it works right now :frowning:


I have another problem – since default binder icons look ugly on darker background, I’m using custom icons. However, no matter what I do I can’t change Trash icon. There’s not even an option to change it when I right-click on the Trash folder, which is weird. Is there any way how to do it, please?


Not sure why, but you have to use the menu bar – Documents / Change Icon – to change the Trash icon.

It worked! Thank you, BClarke!

Just coming in to add myself to the count of people who are frustrated by this! (also, this is probably why there are no custom scrivener 3 for windows themes available for download)

Actually, there’s at least one: Scrivener 3.1 Accessibility - #19 by BadScribbler :sunglasses:

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Hi everyone; I’ll throw myself in here… and thanks Jim for the shout out.

So what do you need if you are going to create a theme yourself?
You cannot change the headers via options… and a whole lot of other things.
So you want to pick the theme which as the color dividing lines and small icon outlines you want; as you cannot change those without decompiling the entire scrivener app.

If you now say huh? and is genuinely curious; follow the link to my theme above, posted by Jim; there’s a discussion with the Scrivener dev team there which explains it in detail.

So–armed with your desired dividing lines and icon outlines; you’ll need a few tools… and a couple of skills.

But first–the main icons also cannot be changed; but the good news? Everything else can.

You will need a passing level of knowledge of CSS. That’s pretty much it.

And you will need a coding environment which can read .pal files, .qss, and XML.
Those are the only three files you will be editing; as the preferences file, you would edit from within Scrivener by setting your options.

My Go-to is Visual Studio Code for this, which has a dizzying array of plugins of every kind available, and is completely free of charge. There are of course a bazillion Dev environments out there.

So how about this? Let’s get more themes than Firefox has shared on this forum. :+1:

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Have the exact same problem. Only in Default can I edit the whole column. The other theme’s leave a trail of it’s own colour behind the arrows… And I can’t save theme’s in Default, but that’s the only one in which I can change the appearece best so I’m kinda stuck here haha #frustrating

I’ve been trying so many options… Now I even lost all the work I put in the appearance so I kinda gave up… I was so hyped for the new Windows update because of this theme feature, but now it seems I can’t save any of the themes I wanted to make :frowning:

Smaller but related issue. I have a modified Ocean theme I love. But the icons are so gray that they blend in. How to change those?

For example:


Take a look at the four icons for the various Inspector modes. Almost impossible to see. And it’s even worse in the Binder. The carets/down-arrows are nearly invisible:


From the outliner:


The word “scene” blends beautifully into the background ­— highly undesirable in this case. And note the arrows next to the (misspelled) section title.

Also, in the preview window as I type this, the images are all blown up. What I see onscreen is actually smaller.

Is there a want to fix this using settings, or tweaking some text file with settings? Genuinely hope there is.



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This very thing is what outraged me so much I built a theme.
My eyes are not all that good. There was smoke coming out my ears–not even kidding.

Here is what I figured out. The icons are .svg - so vector files. The little icons are transparent save for the lines. The dividing lines between the various areas such as main toolbar and formatting bar, main icons and little icons are embedded–virtually–in the source code, so is the main stylesheet.

Everything else can be changed though. So for me, I changed the highlight / transparency, foreground and background colors, as well as the color scheme. This you cannot do from within scrivener and it takes a little time, as you must alter the qss file as well as the pal file and the xml file.

Thomas, if you know CSS it is easy. That’s the good news.

CSS I can figure out — I’ve written HTML. But I know nothing of the QT (is that right?) files and structures. Nothing.

What’s a PAL file? What else is going on inside the .scrtheme file/folder? I’ve inspected them, but I have no idea what to do to change things.



Thomas, if it has been awhile; CSS is radically different from when it was part of HTML. If your background is HTML3 or even 4, I recommend hitting YouTube or Free Code camp. And QSS is again a bit different from CSS. There are tons of articles on it though, so you should be fine. And VS code has support for QSS.

Here’s a link about QSS: Style Sheets vs QStyle | Qt Forum

If your front-end lingo skills are fresh however; so 2019 or later, you’re good to go.

.pal is a palette file, this one was brand new to me too. From what I could dig up, it is an 18-bit!!! antiquated color-scheme frequently used in legacy video games. So, a slight wrinkle, as when you type in RGB values, PAL will convert if from the 255 shades of RGB to its 18-bit system, so the colors show up somewhat different. .pal does not take RGBA either.

QT you want to steer clear of, unless you got a good decompiler on hand and really know what you’re doing. How fresh are your C++ skills?

The last one you will need to touch is the XML file. Again, you’re in front-end land here, so as long as you follow good current web design practice you should be A-OK. Just don’t change the pointer to the style document, it is embedded in the source code.

Bottom line, if you are only changing colors–you’re good. Just be mindful of the declared variables in the QSS document, as you don’t have the help of a standard dev environment with auto-refresh so you can see what the heck you are doing.

Here’s a link to a truly killer dev teacher’s channel on YouTube, Traversy Media. He’ll steer you right.

One last recommendation. Make several copies of the theme you saved out from Scrivener, in case you hose one of them up. That way you have several fresh ones to experiment on.

And I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but–for anyone reading who needs to hear it, NEVER EVER touch the files in Scrivener’s directory. Always make a copy, and back up your work in the program before you do anything. You’re only touching the GUI, I know.

And then, pretty please share your cool theme when you are done, will you? :blush:


I did it by selecting the trash folder and another folder at the same time, then, with both folders selected, try right-clicking the second one, and “change icon” option. That allows you to change the trash icon.

Sorry, my English is horrible, just hope I made myself clear.