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Dark Mode/Dark theme for ARCHICAD (on both macOS and Windows)

dkovacs
Graphisoft
Graphisoft
Apple introduced Dark mode in macOS 10.14 Mojave, and Microsoft also started implementing it in Windows the same year (2018).

ARCHICAD currently works when the Operating System is turned to Dark Mode, but doesn't have a dark theme yet. This change could be quite development-resource heavy (as the engine of ARCHICAD’s UI is not ready for having 2 different representations, so it would require a complete overhaul), and could also take away time from functional developments in favour of a cosmetic upgrade.

PS.: I found other similar polls but I wanted to get more specific than those. I link them here for reference (I personally like the mock-up of Emil Meijer):
Black/Dark theme option for UI
Dark GUI theme
Dark scheme
Daniel Alexander Kovacs

Professional Services Consultant

GRAPHISOFT



For Troubleshooting and useful Tips & Tricks visit
29 REPLIES 29

Ralph Wessel
Advisor
On the whole, I'd prefer a focus on functionality. Dark mode has a 'back to the future' feel about it – takes me back to the old monitors of earlier computing with black background and green/amber characters.

I use Dark Mode on macOS currently but don't feel any clear benefits. It's great in Xcode, but weaker in illustrative software. It's nice to have the palettes etc recede a bit with the darker colour – which punches up the content you're working on – but fundamentally a lot of the content still has a white background and consequently the overall effect is greatly diminished.

Consequently, I suspect I'd gain little from a dark mode in ARCHICAD. I always thought it was counterproductive when I saw people working on back screens with lurid coloured line-work in AutoCAD and then essentially inverting it all in the finished documents. I'd be happy if palettes and toolbars were dark, but it's a minor issue and I'd prefer to see GS focus on key issues.
Ralph Wessel BArch

Barry Kelly
Moderator
Personally I don't think the light grey toolbars and menus are too hard on the eyes as some have suggested.
The working background can be too bright, but that colour is adjustable now in grids and background settings.
I would never want a dark background anyway as I use a lot of black and sometimes grey pens.
I print in black and grey so for me it makes more sense to see what I am going to end up with - especially in the layouts (WYSIWYG).

I have never understood the use of a black background - I don't print on black paper.
Yes, white can appear too harsh but as mentioned it is easy to adjust the background colour to something more soothing (without going black).

As with anything, so long as we have the option to invoke it or not - then everyone should be happy.
But I would rather not take away from developing new features if it is going to be a big project.
That is my opinion anyway.

Barry.

One of the forum moderators.
Versions 6.5 to 25
Dell XPS- i7-6700 @ 3.4Ghz, 16GB ram, GeForce GTX 960 (2GB), Windows 10
Dell Precision 3510 - i7 6820HQ @ 2.70GHz, 16GB RAM, AMD FirePro W5130M, Windows 10

DGSketcher
Mentor
Similar thoughts to Barry here. You can already change the background settings. I did try the Dark Mode setting with other apps, but can't say it appealed to me, even with my failing eyesight.

I would much rather see resources put into improving modelling efficiency, debugging and implementation of the longstanding items on the wish list.
Apple iMac macOS Big Sur / AC24UKI (most recent builds)

Nader Belal
Advisor
Here are my two cents,

First, the "Dark Mode/Dark theme for ARCHICAD" can not be marketed to the public as a program functionality, in any case it may be mentioned as an option (cause may programs already had it).

Second, working on a white background for extended periods can strain the eyes. Proof, mobile & tablets screens in the last few years have gotten better, bigger, clearer and brighter, never the less, many apps and web pages had to implement the dark mode by users' request (Check LinusTechTips Youtube Channel on that matter)

Third, in any case ArchiCAD core functionality takes maximum priority, and the dark theme at any case must be seen as a side task, not a main task.
A good friend of mine have once told me that I´m so brute that I´m capable of creating a GDL script capable of creating GDLs.

Anonymous
Not applicable
first the functional changes, then the cosmetics. I personally find the development of the metal graphics engine a priority to gain speed and future compatibility.

JaredBanks
Participant
This would be a huge waste of resources.
Jared Banks, AIA

ArchiCAD blog: www.shoegnome.com
ArchiCAD tutorial videos: https://www.youtube.com/shoegnome

theArchitect1988
Newcomer
The "dark mode" would look sleek on both Windows and MacOS but I don't think this is at the top of priorities for this great software.

It's one of those "nice to have" things that don't really add much overall value to the already valuable software. Functionality in terms of tools, ease of use and producing deliverables are much much higher on my list to be honest.

I wouldn't mind having this though.

hpenbeoglu
Contributor
Apple, Windows, Adobe Products, Office 365, Apps...

I understand people will judge you by wasting resources and that is true; we need more functionalities and the market is competitive. However, If you want customers to upgrade, I recommend UI improvement every 2 years because it is a visible change. Sad but true.

In any way, black is the coolest colour and architects will love it. I know it makes no sense but just remember how many people waited for a white version of iPhone

I wish there was a simple way of making it.

BIM Manager, Architect in the UK | AC11-AC24
Macbook Pro 16" 2.4 GHz 8-Core Intel Core i9 - 32 GB RAM - 512 GB SSD

Mike96
Participant
Unfortunately we cannot change the theme of ArchiCAD itself but you can change themes of Windows. I did some experiments and installed this one:

https://www.deviantart.com/yorgash/art/Steam-VS-for-Windows-7-449032822

Its appearance is based on Steam and its code is based on AERO theme which is default for Windows 7. Nice option if you have ArchiCAD 20 or newer, which will not run if you change your Windows theme to classic.

Gotta say, this theme is really dark and you may find some icons hard to see (both in OS and ArchiCAD GUI). But if you know ArchiCAD and your system well enough, this shouldn't be a burden. I personally love this theme - it's elegant, reducing contrast on my screen and strain of my eyes.

If you like dark GUIs, you can give this theme a chance. I checked it on my computer - no viruses.
Just remember to first patch your system settings in order to allow proper installation of external visual styles (themes). All the instructions you'll find in the link.


If you're curious, some other programs will also be affected by changing Windows theme. Here I listed some of mine:

Other programs with GUI that WILL be fully affected by changing (AERO-based) Windows theme:
- Corel Draw
- Trimble SketchUp
- Mozilla Firefox

These will NOT be affected fully (or not at all):
- Autodesk AutoCAD (I guess any Autodesk soft)
- GIMP (unless you change the setting of theme to "system" - GIMP has quite customizable GUI)
- Blender (it's actually dark itself)
- Rhinoceros (part of the GUI is affected and it looks a bit strange but acceptable)
- any Adobe program
- Google Earth Pro
- MS Officle bundle (Word, Excel, PPoint etc.) but default page color will change to dark gray so you'll have to alter this by hand every time (no problem for me).
ArchiCAD 24
Windows 10

deivarch
Participant
I think dark mode is more than just doing the "cool" thing right now. With modern LED displays, using less visible light reduces energy consumption and wear and tear on the monitors. Also, for my eyes, I love dark mode on my Mac as it helps quite a bit when working late into the night in reducing glare and eye strain. Frankly, GS should have a UI designer full time constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency and visual clarity. As architects, we are all spending more and more time in front of the screen. This is much more important that people think because it comes down to how we interface with our tool. Dark mode is just one element of what should be a constant evolution on the UI to make us all more efficient and comfortable in our workflows.

Mike96
Participant
This is how my AC looks now, after patching Windows themes and installing an extrenal, Steam-based dark theme (and changing viewport background color).
Sometimes there's little contrast but I prefer that than everything white.
ArchiCAD 24
Windows 10

hpenbeoglu
Contributor
deivarch wrote:
I think dark mode is more than just doing the "cool" thing right now. With modern LED displays, using less visible light reduces energy consumption and wear and tear on the monitors. Also, for my eyes, I love dark mode on my Mac as it helps quite a bit when working late into the night in reducing glare and eye strain. Frankly, GS should have a UI designer full time constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency and visual clarity. As architects, we are all spending more and more time in front of the screen. This is much more important that people think because it comes down to how we interface with our tool. Dark mode is just one element of what should be a constant evolution on the UI to make us all more efficient and comfortable in our workflows.
I totally agree. UI and colour preferences are also functional, I mean it has an effect on our daily routine.
BIM Manager, Architect in the UK | AC11-AC24
Macbook Pro 16" 2.4 GHz 8-Core Intel Core i9 - 32 GB RAM - 512 GB SSD

Rex Maximilian
Enthusiast
I do a lot of work in the evening and at night, since the phone doesn't ring and the texts don't ping and the emails don't ding! Anyway, I have an iMac display shining at 500 nits, (the new Mac Pros will be 1000 nits). This is mighty bright at night and messes with. my looking at the screen and off to the side looking at reference material or markups. I know I could lower the display settings, but that would also make the text and finer details harder to see (some of us have eyes that are starting to age). Dark mode would be wonderful to enhance the night work experience!
Rex Maximilian, Honolulu, USA - www.rexmaximilian.com
ArchiCAD 25 (user since 3.4, 1991)
27" iMac (2019), 8-core 3.6 Ghz i9 processor, 40GB RAM, 1.5TB SSD, Radeon Pro Vega 48 (8GB)
Creator of the Maximilian ArchiCAD Template System

randomguy
Newcomer
Mac OS can already do this. Just enable inverted colors in the Accessibility pane of System Preferences.


GETULIO
Newcomer
I have astimatism! Nocturne mode is a heaven! It really makes some difference to me! Less headache!

Rex Maximilian
Enthusiast
randomguy wrote:
Mac OS can already do this. Just enable inverted colors in the Accessibility pane of System Preferences.
2.png
1.png
.
While "Invert Colors" is a workaround in a sense. It's not desirable to have blues become orange and reds become green. Plus, the Dark Mode we want uses the Mac's pleasant dark shade of gray, as opposed to black, which is harsh.

But, if it's for a temporary time for only an hour or so at night, I guess it is better than nothing...
Rex Maximilian, Honolulu, USA - www.rexmaximilian.com
ArchiCAD 25 (user since 3.4, 1991)
27" iMac (2019), 8-core 3.6 Ghz i9 processor, 40GB RAM, 1.5TB SSD, Radeon Pro Vega 48 (8GB)
Creator of the Maximilian ArchiCAD Template System

Mike96
Participant
Rex wrote:
randomguy wrote:
Mac OS can already do this. Just enable inverted colors in the Accessibility pane of System Preferences.
2.png
1.png
.
While "Invert Colors" is a workaround in a sense. It's not desirable to have blues become orange and reds become green. Plus, the Dark Mode we want uses the Mac's pleasant dark shade of gray, as opposed to black, which is harsh.

But, if it's for a temporary time for only an hour or so at night, I guess it is better than nothing...
Hands up, architects: who works for just an hour at night?
ArchiCAD 24
Windows 10

OskarsLV
Newcomer
I am also for having dark mode but not in the sense that we need to have autocad feeling.
I would like to choose the color for the menu and that's it.
We already can change the grids and background.
And it would really be nice and easy for @GRAPHISOFT team to enable to change the menu colors.

The best example for this is "hpenbeoglu"post. It looks the best. And also pleasing for the eyes.

P.S. There is no need to change color sheme to black, when all the black lines change color to white. That will completely mess up the Archicad ease of use.

Tomek Piatek
Contributor
Forget the dark mode. Fix all the lunacy around window management on Macs and on Windows too for that matter. All those palettes and gizmo windows use non standard UI mechanisms on both platforms. They don't dock property outside of the main AC window, they don't show up in Expose on macOS. I have a 27" iMac and those things are a pain to manage.

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ArchiCAD 23
Windows 10 Pro

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