June 22, 2017

Visual Studio 2017 high contrast hack

Visual Studio 2017, as it happens with earlier versions, forces its high contrast theme if Windows is under a high contrast theme as well. Microsoft seems not to be interested in fixing it so people have to use certain registry hacks to use Visual Studio's dark theme. Before the 2017 release, settings were right in the registry and you could do the hack by hand more or less easily.

A first problem with that is that under some circumstances (for instance, after updates) the theme setting switches back to high contrast and you have to re-apply the hack. Another problem is that from the 2017 release the registry settings have been moved to a hive file so you have first to load it into the global registry, do the hack and unload it again.

Given this situation, I've leveraged my old-fashioned batch scripting abilities to write a little program that does it automatically for Visual Studio 2017. It makes a backup of the key containing the high contrast theme to a new key with .backup appended to its name and copies the dark theme key recursively over that of the high contrast one. It first checks if the backup is already present to avoid overwriting it with the already-tampered data.

As another great feature, this program applies the hack on every installation of Visual Studio 2017 present in the system.

You can get the script from its GitHub repository.

As you may guess, you are using it at your own risk. Of course, let me know if you have any problems with it and I'll try to help.

Credits to Chris Shrigley for his post on this.

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