Visual Studio offers many customization options, albeit slightly buried in the menus. You can use custom themes, edit your styling rules, and add custom fonts with ligatures designed for programming.
Set a custom theme
Microsoft provides some tools for this, but the latest and easiest to use is Visual Studio Color Theme Designer. There is also a Color Theme Editor for older versions. Download and install the designer and then create a new VSTheme project:
The cool part of the designer is that it allows you to choose three base colors for most of the application. Visual Studio uses the same “Accent Color” system that the rest of Windows follows. If you are thinking of a dark theme, choose a shade of dark gray that you like for the primary color, then an accent color and then a slightly lighter shade of gray for the secondary color, which is used for things like contours on the buttons.
The designer will generate additional colors based on the ones you entered and apply them in all the right places. You can click on “Apply” at the bottom to set it as the current theme and see what it looks like.
But if you want to make some manual overrides, the next screen will show all the individual settings:
Note that these do not include syntax highlighting – you must change these colors from the options menu.
Customize syntax highlighting
The theme editor changes the colors of the Visual Studio interface, but the syntax highlighting settings are managed separately in the options menu. Open the options from Tools> Options.
You may notice that the background color has not changed; that’s because it’s here. Under “Plain text” you can change the background color.
The settings for actually changing what you want are very buried, at the bottom at the bottom under “User Members.” Here you will find the colors for changing methods, fields, parameters, classes, enums and pretty much everything.
A very useful thing to do is to set a different color for Parameters. By default, they are light blue, which has the same color as local variables. However, it is quite practical to be able to tell the difference between input arguments and locally defined variables. You can also set different colors for fields and properties, both of which are not colored by default.
The colors for string literals are a little further up, as are the color settings for escape characters.
In addition to the basics, Visual Studio has specific objects for some language-specific settings, so if you see something that is still white, you can probably find it in the list.
Add a custom font
By default, Visual Studio uses Consolas, which are monospaced but a bit basic.
Of course, there are better fonts that are specially designed for programming. One of the most popular is FiraCode, which adds custom ligatures to enhance the appearance of common elements such as
You need to install the font you choose on your system and then select it from the “Fonts” menu in “Options”.
You may need to restart Visual Studio for it to take effect.