Importing And Applying A New Theme In SQL Management Studio

If you spend enough time working in Microsoft SQL Management Studio, chances are you’re going to eventually want to apply a new theme.  Though there’s nothing wrong with the default font and color scheme, some users find it to be a strain on the eyes, specifically with the vibrant white background.  There are literally thousands of custom made themes/settings available for Management Studio and all are fully compatible with Visual Studio.  All themes are saved as a .vssettings file and can be imported into either application very easily.

For the purposes of this example I will be importing one of the more popular theme settings known as Son of Obsidian.  You can download this theme here.

The first step is to launch SQL Management Studio.  Once open, click on the Tools menu and select Import and Export Settings…


Once selected, the Import and Export Settings Wizard window will be displayed.  By default the option to Import selected environment settings radio button will be selected.  You can also elect to Export selected environment settings from this screen as well.


To import new settings just make sure the option to import selected environment settings is selected and click Next.

Since you are going to be changing your settings, the following screen gives you the option to back up your current settings, should you choose to go back to it.  By default the settings filename will be CurrentSettings-TodaysDate.vssettings

You can also choose to not backup the current settings by selecting No, just import new settings, overwriting my current settings. 


Choose the option that best suits your needs and click Next.

On the next screen you will want to choose the collection of settings you wish to import.  If you do not see the theme you wish to import, just click the Browse button, navigate to the location where it is saved and select it.  In this example I am selecting son-of-obsidian.vssettings.


Once selected, click Next to continue to the final step.

On the following screen select the settings you want to import.  In some cases you will have multiple settings options that you can select, but by default All Settings should be checked.  In this case I only have the option to select All Settings.


Once you have reviewed this screen and made any selection changes desired, click the Finish button to apply the new settings.

You should receive the following message confirming that your settings were successfully imported.


From here just click Close and you should see your imported settings the next time you open a new query window and begin writing a script.  Below is a screenshot of the newly imported Son of Obsidian theme.


As mentioned previously, there are thousands of custom themes and settings that you can choose from. The best way to find them is to search online for Visual Studio and Management Studio themes.

Additionally, you can fully modify the default settings or create your own settings by clicking Tools on the main menu and selecting Options.


This will load the Options window which allows you to tweak Management Studio in a variety of ways.  For the purpose of this post I’ll only be discussing the Fonts and Colors option. To begin modifying the current settings select the Environment drop-down and then click on Fonts and Colors.  From here you can select various items in the Display items list for modification.  Each item corresponds to a particular syntax rule or keyword in SQL.


Using this window, you can change nearly all aspects of the query window properties including font type, color, size and style.  It’s best to backup your existing theme prior to making any changes.  You can use the Import Export Settings Wizard previously discussed to do this.