How-To

How to Change the Font and Background Color in Notepad++

Notepad++ is one of the best text editors around for code, but its default view is hard on the eyes. Thankfully that problem isn’t hard to fix.

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If you code (or hack and slash your way through other people’s code), then you’re likely very familiar with Notepad++ as it is one of the best free tools for the job. One thing that has always bugged me about Notepad++, however, is the default background color, foreground color, and font. When looking around for how to change the font and colors it might not be obvious how to do so, so let’s take a quick look and explain how it works.

In Notepad++ the fonts and colors are controlled by the built-in Style Configurator. This option is found under Settings > Style Configurator.

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If you want to immediately customize things, there are two main (separate) styles to look at. These are the Default Style and the Global override.

  • The Default style is what will be used when you open a new notepad and begin typing. Once your notepad has been saved as a particular file type, Notepad++ will then recognize its language and apply the Language-specific style to it.
  • The Global override is a universal mask that can be set to control the font style and background colors regardless of what language or file type you are working with.

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Customizing the style is pretty straightforward once you look at it. You can set for things to be bold, italic or underlined. The font family and size can be adjusted as well. And both the background and foreground colors can be changed.

Note the background color is the canvas and the foreground color is the text color.

global style editor

In the Global override style, there is a total of 8 checkboxes. Each one will completely override all other styles set in the configuration or theme only to display what the Global override is set to. This process doesn’t clear other settings, it just essentially disables all custom settings except for global override for each particular categorized checkbox.

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The easiest way to go about changing the colors, however, is to set a different theme. Notepad++ has 21 built-in themes. You’ll probably find that only a few of them are useful, though. More themes can be added or created. Azulia has a list of some of the most popular from the web, even though its list is biased.

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To install a theme just drop its XML file into your C:\Program Files (x86)\Notepad++\themes folder.

theme folder

That’s all there is to customizing how Notepad++ looks.


18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. satya  

    This is very useful. Quick help.:)

  2. so, we edit xml themes for change font? thanks to this tutorial

  3. How to change background color in notepad? (not in notepad++)

    • You can’t. You can only do word wrap and stylize the font for all of your notepads. Notepad is a really basic text editor and has no space specific font styles.

    • Samir  

      You can’t do that straight out of the box. But you probably can do it if you put your mind to it. It may be possible to do it by modifying the Windows registry.

    • Zero cool  

      Select Personalize when right-clicking the Desktop, and click on Windows color in the window that pops up. Select Advanced appearance settings, and in the drop-down box, choose Active window> Black for background color 1 and green for text color. ^^

  4. Nicely explained, thanks a lot Austin. Whenever I see my friends using other colorful editors I wonder how to color my notepad++. Now it’s easier.

  5. h18  

    Well done, exactly what I needed – thanks

  6. rick  

    i cant seem to find that theme DIR or any theme xml files but i do have the themes available in notepad++ i want to change the color of the line # column on the left side and the selected line color i don’t see any option to do that in the style configurator. i can only change background and foreground color or select from the themes listed, they don’t have anything close the the color I want.

    • rick  

      never mind i figured it out but i still can find these XML file to make my own themes

  7. Clem  

    The styler settings are not saved. (When Save and Close is clicked). I highly recommend DO NOT CHANGE OR SELECT ANY OTHER STYLE. The style delivered with Notepad++ will not be available after it’s changed. You cannot put it back!

  8. joseph  

    you need to add to the guide that themes might be in your appdata if you choose that option when installing

    • Samir  

      Precisely! I was going to point that out myself. This is a new thing, because this is something that changed in Npp at some point after year 2013. So the themes can now be found in %appdata%\Notepad++\themes. This is the default location now, so unless the user has changed this location during installation of Npp, then this is where the themes will be at.

  9. thank you , really helped me to change the background

  10. Thank’s nice one

  11. pat  

    To me it is useless. I followed the instructions, and all my text is still white on a black background.

  12. Samir  

    Hi! Thanks for explaining the difference between the Default style and Global override!

    Judging by the number of questions related to setting fonts and colors, it seems to me that most people are confused by these two styles. As I surfed the endless waves of questions about setting fonts in Npp I noticed that many users have managed to find the Style Configurator dialog box without any assistance or tutorials. But they were confused as to why their changes were not applied.

    Personally I’m a long time Npp user, but I don’t mess around a lot with styles, and if I ever have to do it I usually go for the language specific options. I just looked at these today and I was a bit confused by this myself. But I totally understand it now, it’s very simple really. However, I don’t think it brings a lot of benefit to the user. So I’m not so sure this is a wise design decision on part of the Npp author.

  13. manish  

    Thank , really helped me to change the background

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