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What Are the Most Popular VS Code Themes?

Looking for a new Visual Studio Code theme?

Developers can be finicky about what themes round out their perfect code editor and IDE setups. Picking the right theme after getting the nuts-and-bolts functionality down pat can top off a customized coding environment. Luckily for Visual Studio Code users, there are some 5,000 options to choose from in the VS Code Marketplace. That's a lot, though, so we are kindly helping you make your decision by presenting the top theme extensions as measured by the number of installations. Here's a summary of the current extensions that have been installed more than 1 million times, of which there are six:
  1. Material Icon Theme
    This comes from Philipp Kief, topping the list at 8,185,205 installations and earning an average 4.9 rating (0-5 scale) from 195 developers who reviewed it.

    Material Icon Theme
    [Click on image for larger view.] Material Icon Theme (source: Visual Studio Code Marketplace).

    As the name suggests, it follows Google's Material Design scheme, eschewing Microsoft's own Fluent Design counterpart (here's a comparison between the two). "Material Design defines the qualities that can be expressed by UI regions, surfaces, and components," Google says. "Design and strategize how your app is built using foundations that address design from both a broad and detailed perspective."

    Specifically, this extension focuses on Material Design icons -- hundreds and hundreds of icons -- for different types of files and folders. Developers can customize various characteristics such as folder colors and the opacity, saturation and file associations.

    Although the extension has been around since 2016, it is continually updated -- the last change was made 11 hours previous to this writing -- with the help of more than 180 community contributors. Further speaking to its popularity are the 327 forks, 70 pull requests and 848 stars adorning the associated GitHub project.

    Learn more here.

  2. One Dark Pro
    Coming from binaryify, this is more of a traditional full-theme extension, not just icons. It's based on Atom's One Dark theme, which shows up on our list a bit later.

    One Dark Theme
    [Click on image for larger view.] One Dark Theme (source: Visual Studio Code Marketplace).

    As of this writing, it has been installed 3,882,244 times, earning an average 4.5 rating from 149 reviewers. "I've tried many themes before this one, and this one is definitely the best," said one of those reviewers. "Colors are very well blended and easy for the eyes."" It can also be customized, with users able to experiment with different colors. Installation instructions and other guidance is available here.

    Learn more here.

  3. Dracula Official
    Perhaps most appropriate around Halloween time, this dark theme does indeed pay homage to the count. The extension is maintained by Derek S, though Zeno Rocha is listed as its creator. It has also been around since 2016 and was updated just last month. "A dark theme for Atom, Alfred, Emacs, Highlight.js, Hyper, iTerm, JetBrains, Pygments, Slack, Sublime Text, TextMate, Terminal.app, Vim, Xcode, Zsh and many more."

    Dracula Official
    [Click on image for larger view.] Dracula Official (source: Visual Studio Code Marketplace).

    It sports 2,453,730 installs, and 81 reviewers have bestowed an average 4.9 rating. "Excellent theme!!!" said one. "After trying different other themes, I feel very comfortable with this one. The contrasts are exactly as I like and can easily read. And it is OK for bigger more or less bright displays. Also, the availability of this theme is huge!!! 150+ apps. I can get it for my other apps and have exactly the same experience all the time."

    Instructions are available here. Its GitHub site shows a whopping 15,976 stars and 1,537 forks. There's also a Dracula Pro: "Dracula PRO is a color scheme and UI theme tailored for programming. Made for terminal emulators, code editors, and syntax highlighters. Designed to be aesthetically pleasing while keeping you focused."

    Don't look for a light color scheme option, though, because "Dracula can't stand the light."

    Learn more here.

  4. Atom One Dark Theme
    As noted, this served as the inspiration of the second-most popular theme described above, One Dark Pro. It comes from Mahmoud Ali and boasts 2,306,670 installs and a 4.8 rating from 91 reviewers, one of whom said: "When I want to use a dark theme, this is one that I choose. It's perfect!!!"

    Atom One Dark
    [Click on image for larger view.] Atom One Dark (source: Visual Studio Code Marketplace).

    It has been around since 2015 and was last updated in January. A companion Atom One Light Theme is also offered.

    Learn more here.

  5. GitHub Theme
    Although offered as a preview, this extension from GitHub has been installed 1,498,753 times, earning an average 4.4 rating from 90 reviewers.

    GitHub Theme
    [Click on image for larger view.] GitHub Theme (source: Visual Studio Code Marketplace).

    It's described as "GitHub themes from VS Code." That means developers, upon clicking the Install button, are offered the choice of installing:

    • GitHub Light
    • GitHub Dark
    • GitHub Light Default ✨ new ✨
    • GitHub Dark Default ✨ new ✨
    • GitHub Dark Dimmed ✨ new ✨

    GitHub announced the availability of dark and dimmed themes in April.

    This preview extension was released in April 2020 and was last updated in April 2021. Thirteen community members have contributed to the project, which has been awarded 1,236 stars and has been forked 99 times.

    Learn more here.

  6. Winter is Coming
    Where I live, in extreme northwest Montana, winter is always coming. Other than that, I have no input on the name of this extension. Its themes include dark (blue and black), dark with no italics and light themes, with creator John Papa saying he uses the dark ones mostly and the light on on some dimmer projectors when he his presenting.

    Winter Is Coming
    [Click on image for larger view.] Winter Is Coming (source: Visual Studio Code Marketplace).

    The tool was released in 2017 and last updated in March. It shows 1,251,375 installs and has earned an average 4.7 rating from 28 reviewers. The most recent review said: "I am hooked, this is one theme i use most of the times. It's very balanced in it's color schemes, for both day and night working conditions, personally I like no-italic version more."

    The associated GitHub repo shows 37 forks, 110 stars and eight pull requests.

    Learn more here.

So that's it for VS Code themes with at least 1 million installations. If you have other themes you love, please share in the comments section.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

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