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How to fix dark theme isn’t working in Windows 10 File Explorer?

By Natallia Pustavalava | March 7, 2019 |

greater than 4 minutes

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Dark theme is a very welcome addition to Windows 10. In earlier versions of Windows, one could use dark mode only for certain apps: namely, Settings, Photo and Video. Now, you can enable dark theme for File Explorer as well. However, a number of users have reported issues with activating dark theme for File Explorer in Windows 10. So, what if Windows 10 File Explorer dark mode is not working on your PC?

In this article, we look into the “dark theme is not applying to File Explorer” issue and the ways to solve it.

How to fix the Windows Explorer dark theme not working issue?

There are several common causes behind the problem — and there are a few methods you can try to activate the dark mode for File Explorer in Windows 10. They include:

  • Installing the latest system update
  • Reverting to the default theme
  • Restarting File Explorer
  • Logging out and logging back in
  • Creating a new user account
  • Running SFC and DISM scans

Method one: installing the latest system update

Sometimes, the reason behind dark theme not working for File Explorer on your PC may be as simple as a missing update. Note that dark theme for File Explorer has only been added to Windows 10 as part of the latest October update — thus, you will need to have the latest build (1809) installed before you can use dark mode for File Explorer on your PC. Here’s how to check whether you have the update installed:

  • Use the Win+R key combo and input Winver. Press Enter.
  • You will be able to see all the basic data for your system. Check the version section: if it’s not version 1809, it means that you don’t have the update installed.

If this is the case, go on and install the update. Here’s how to do that:

  • Go to Settings (you can do that via the Win+I shortcut).
  • In Settings, go to the Update & Security section.
  • In the right section of the window, click Check for updates.
  • Windows will now run a scan for available updates and install them in the background.

Once you have successfully upgraded to the 1809 build, you can try to activate dark theme in File Explorer again and see if the issue has resolved itself.

Method two: reverting to the default theme

One of the great things about Windows 10 is that it allows for plenty of customization options and lets you switch between a variety of themes. However, this can also be the cause of the problems you are having with dark theme in File Explorer. In fact, you will not be able to activate dark theme unless you are using the system’s default theme.

Reverting to the default theme is very easy. Here’s what you will need to do:

  • Go to Settings and navigate to the Personalization section.
  • From the menu, select Themes.
  • In the list of available themes, click Windows.

You have now successfully switched to the default theme and should be able to use dark theme in File Explorer with no problems.

Method three: restarting File Explorer

The reason behind dark theme not working in your File Explorer may be File Explorer itself. Minor glitches in your system can be the cause of this and a number of other problems.


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In this case, the issue may be resolved by simply restarting File Explorer. Here’s how to restart

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File Explorer:

  • Bring up Task Manager via the Ctrl+Shift+Esc shortcut.
  • Find Windows Explorer, right-click on the program and select Restart.

After the program has restarted, try activating dark theme again.

Method four: logging out and logging back in

If your issues with using dark theme for File Explorer are a result of a system glitch, another effective solution may be to log in and out of your account.

  • Go to Start and click the icon of your profile.
  • From the menu, select the Sign out option.
  • To log back in, choose your user account and enter the log-in information.

Now, try to apply dark theme in File Explorer again — you should be able to use it without any issues.

Method five: creating a new user account

If none of the above methods have worked, the cause of the issue could be a corrupted user account. To fix the problem, you will need to create a new user account. Here’s how to do that:

  • Open the Settings app and head over to the Accounts section.
  • From the menu on the left, choose Family & other people.
  • In the right section of the window, select Add someone else to this PC.
  • Click I don’t have this person’s sign-in information and navigate to Add a user without a Microsoft account.
  • Choose the name for your new account and click Next.

When your new account is ready, log into the new account and try to activate dark theme in File Explorer again.

Method six: running SFC and DISM scans

Sometimes, you may not be able to apply dark theme in File Explorer because of a corrupted installation. In this case, we recommend you run an SFC (System File Checker) scan. It’s not a complicated procedure — you will just need to do the following:

  • Run Command Prompt as an administrator. In order to do that, use the the Win+X key combo and choose Command Prompt (Admin) from the list.
  • After the program has opened, type sfc /scannow and hit Enter.

The scanning of your system will now begin — this should take from 10 to 15 minutes.

If, for some reason, you are unable to run an SFC scan or if running the scan does not resolve the issue, try running a DISM scan by doing the following:

  • Run Command Prompt as an administrator again.
  • Execute the DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth command.
  • The scan will now begin — note that it can take 20 minutes or more, so you will need to be patient.

After you have run the scan, try activating dark theme again and see if the problem has disappeared.

Keeping your Windows system up-to-date is one of the key aspects of having dark theme and other features and upgrades running smoothly on your PC. This includes regularly updating your drivers — which can be quite a formidable undertaking when done manually. To make things easier, you can use specialized software like Auslogics Driver Updater. When installed, the program will regularly scan your computer for potential driver issues and resolve them in just one click.

Fed up with your slow PC? Tired of waiting for Windows to start up? Take a look at the most common reasons behind poor performance and the best ways to deal with them here.


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