How To Change Color Scheme in Outlook 2013

  • MORE

 outlook color scheme lead

Outlook 2013's default layout and color scheme has almost no contrasting colors to show where the navigation bars and sections are. Whether you want to make your inbox easier to look at or simply want a change of inbox "scenery," it can be very helpful to change Outlook's colors. Here's how to do so in five easy steps.

1. Click File at the top left of the screen to pull up a backstage panel.

1 outlook change color sche 537x400


2. Click Options. This opens an Outlook Options window to edit more settings.

2 outlook change color sche 510x400


3. Select your preferred background. Under the "Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office" section, look for the field that says Office Background. This changes the small decorative pattern at the top right of your screen. 

3 outlook change color sche 487x400


Outlook provides a list of 14 backgrounds for you to choose from. We selected Doodle Diamonds for this example. 

4 outlook change color sche 547x400


4. Select Theme. In the Office Theme field below Office Background, choose from White, Light Gray or Dark gray. This decides the color of your navigation bars. For greater contrast, we picked the Dark Gray theme.

5 outlook change color sche


5. Click Ok. You're done. Here's a preview of what those changes will look like.

7 outlook change color sche 670x292

You'll see that scrollbars, navigation panels and the left sidebar are now all gray (if you chose gray like we did), making it easier to distinguish one of part of the Outlook window from another.

Recommended by Outbrain
Author Bio
Cherlynn Low
Cherlynn Low, LAPTOP Staff Writer
Cherlynn joined the Laptopmag team in June 2013 and has since been writing about all things tech and digital with a focus on mobile and Internet software development. She also edits and reports occasionally on video. She graduated with a M.S. in Journalism (Broadcast) from Columbia University in May 2013 and has been designing personal websites since 2001.
Cherlynn Low, LAPTOP Staff Writer on
Add a comment
  • xixi_ Says:

    This is really awful!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Richard Says:

    Just changed my computer and bough a office 2013 package, How do i change the colour to something a little less on the eyes as per my 2010 Blue etc?

  • Jimmy Says:

    Need more color schemes in interface option settings. Existing light gray and dark gray choices doesn't look and less readable.

  • Linda Pilgrim Says:

    your gray on gray color scheme is terrible. Whose bright idea was it not to offer any color on this version. Makes it extremely hard to read all day long.

  • Lia Gatherum Says:

    Just Bought 2013 - followed instructions for adding some colour, but no office background button on my one just office theme. Is that normal

  • Nat Says:

    I can't believe that this is it with the colors, how bland, and how depressing to have to look at the Light or dark grey all day, every day. How did this ever get through final stage is beyond me.

  • Jerry Says:

    Another reason to stay a Mac guy, as if I needed , MS is such a joke, even after all these years.....

  • bd Says:

    isn't there ANY way, in the recurring item setup, in the start date calendar, to make the starting date show up (with more than an ultra-pale blue or gray that can barely be seen even when you're looking for it) nearly as much as today's date (with its white digits in a *-bright-* blue background)??? what moron designed this???!!!!!!

  • No Says:

    The fact I just want to change the main background to a darker, easier on the eyes color and cannot in this day and age is annoying. I freaking Created a nagios filter to do this in around 5 minutes. Surely Microsoft can do the same in outlook...

  • Grant Neeson Says:

    Absolutely hate it too. I've been with Microsoft for over a decade and this is very counter- creative. Please bear with us for an upgrade or else switch to whatever your mothers gave you

  • Andrew Dufficy Says:

    Questions: I am visually impaired and would like much greater contrast in colurs for Outlook layout. How can this be achieved

  • Trisha Gleeson Says:

    I hate the lack of colour options in outlook 2013. Really sucks


  • Mansoor Says:

    I do not have the office background option. I have outlook 2013.

  • Brooke Says:

    I do not have the office background option. I have outlook 2013. Am I doing something wrong? It says Office Theme and that's it.

  • Nicky Ashfield Says:

    Boring and horrible. An enforced change at work to the horrible Office 2013..what happened to the lovely colour scene. Grey or dark grey or white, obviously not taken into consideration how anyone with a visual disability will cope with this and also it gives you a headache as you cannot split things off. This is awful Microsoft have you gone backwards !!!!

  • AK Says:

    Can they please provide more options, i hate this whitewashed stuff and wish could avoid it

  • Loukas Says:

    There has to be a better option. There are NO colors, everything is so bland. Give me the option of going back to the look of Outlook 2007.

  • Susan Says:

    Thanks so much I was beginning to think it was a mistake to upgrade to Outlook 2013.
    Microsoft needs to add some nicer colours like some blues!!

  • Kirstin Says:

    HATE the 3 'colour' options they give. Where's the bright vibrant colours?? Microsoft needs to step/think out of the box in the future. these colours are very BORING!!!!

  • Drew Says:

    I am so angry about this. How could they leave the color options this way? It is so sterile. I hate it. Is there some way to contact Microsoft to get them to change this? It will surely drive me crazy.

  • Leon Says:

    "Worst customization options EVER!"

  • Howard Sundwall Says:

    Really? My options are white, light gray and dark gray? That's real customization (Microsoft style!). Maybe they're working on.... medium gray?

  • Felipe Camocardi Says:

    Thanks, this tips helped me a lot. Irritating that white layout!

  • Marsh Says:

    Thanks. Not many options but at least dr gray is better then white. In my opinion.

  • Gunnar Lohse Says:

    Terrible look inside Outlook
    no contrast,cant choose background, nothing.

  • Kent Says:

    Bland colors in Outlook. Even the Outlook title bar looks like garbage. I can't believe anyone thought this looked good enough to put their name on it and send it to consumers.

  • Abs Says:

    Thanks a lot, the white was very annoying.

Back to top