Change Photoshop CS6 Background and Theme

Posted March 26, 2012 by Aaron St. Clair in Graphics

Photoshop CS6 features a darker background than prior versions. If you want to revert back to the old background color, or even change the color to a customized value, this tutorial will get you started.

The new CS6 background color is “SGI Gray 16” or #282828. This is much darker than the the previous “Gray 50” or #7f7f7f. The purpose of the darker color is to help the user focus on the foreground and to help with color perception. However, like all changes, many people do not appreciate this change to a familiar interface.

Changing the background color alone is quite trivial. Simply right click in your workspace (the area surrounding your image) and choose between Default (which is a bit darker than the Dark Gray option), Black, Dark Gray, Medium Gray, Light Gray, and or even Custom Color.

right click background

Right Click the Background

To set the background to a unique color, select the custom color option when you right click the background. The Color Picker window will appear. Choose your color and click OK.

color picker

Use the Color Picker to choose your new background color

If you want to change the overall theme color, which in turn changes the background color accordingly, click the Edit menu, hover over Preferences and click Interface.


Edit > Preferences > Interface

Select the best choice based on your personal preference. When you change an option, Photoshop updates automatically so you can preview your choice before you apply the changes. When you are satisfied with your new look, click the OK button on the right.

change interface

Adjust the options to your personal preference


About Aaron St. Clair

Aaron St. Clair is a tech guru studying Computer Science at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. When he's not tinkering with new gadgets, modding systems, or slaving away at the mercy of the Tech-Recipe overlords, you can find him exploring the high country.
View more articles by Aaron St. Clair

The Conversation

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  • Meh

    Photoshop just keeps getting more dumbed down with every version not to mention uglier, it’s been a while since Adobe stopped caring about the Apple market. So why are we PC users left with a crippled OSX interface?

    Adobe is like an Ostrich instead of having it’s head in the clouds, it is instead buried several feet in the ground. I’m just not sure wth I want to do with Photoshop anymore, I can image edit? Cool wait WTF I think I just applied boot polish.

    • Adobe doesn’t seem to be “dumbing” their suite down; rather the contrary. There’s been many advanced, yet seemingly simple effects, tools and filters added over the years. I’m also not seeing where you’re finding an “OS X” interface? Is that mentality simply coming from the silver scheme of previous photoshop versions?

  • Aaron – you rock! I just loaded CS6 and the new “black background” was throwing me off. I need time to make that kind of drastic visual adjustment ;o).

    Thank you for the tip. I can open PhotoShop without cringing now…


  • Ramona

    I just got a new computer and had to do a trial cs6. I can’t seem to make the changes above. Is it because it is a trial version. I have CS5 on a different computer (almost dead) but I may have to use that.

    • I would assume so, as it’s a feature that was requested by many to be added to CS6.

  • Matszi

    All of that works for me too but once done when I am working on a pic with a black screen (Win 8-CS6) if I click on a tool like magnify the black changes to transparent (little boxes) clicking on the desktop changes back to black and back and forth? Have you run across this one?

  • Irena

    Aron, I hope you’d be able to help me… I work in CS6 Photoshop and something has just gone wrong with the menu windows colours. My workspace background is one of the mid greys, which I know can be changed in the interface. So this is not my problem… When I go to FILTER>LENS CORRECTION, the menu background that drops down is black and also the font is black, so I can’t read anything in the menu; I only see white boxes that I can tick or untick, but I don’t know what I am ticking. I can’t find anywhere how to change the black background or the text colours. This also happens with the CAMERA RAW PREFERENCES in PHOTOSHOP> PREFERENCES>FILE HANDLING.
    I have even tried to uninstall and re-install the CS6, no luck…
    Thanks for your help in advance

    • Does this only happen in CS6? Have you tried CS5 if available? If so, it sounds like it may be an incompatibility with your graphics drivers and the newer CS6 interface. First thing I’d suggest is to update your graphics drivers to the latest version. Make sure you restart your computer upon completion. Try that and let me know!

      • > I have the same problem on Mac. The widow background is black and the fonts are black on all ‘pop-up’ photoshop tools, so flying blind most of the time, especially on Liquify tools and Save for web…

        Has anyone else encountered/resolved this?

        I am not sure how to get new video card drivers. My mac is se’f updating, so I am expecting all the software on it to be most up to date.

        • Tori

          Did you ever find a fix to the black text on black menu, especially save for web, only happens on that menu?! >

  • Irena

    I hope You might have an answer to my problem that is similar to the above. The camera raw interface an some of the filters menu interface is displaying in black so I can not read the menus. I have tried and googled endlessly to fix this (running a mac 10.7) but can not find a fix. I have even uninstalled a reinstalled the whole photoshop. If you could help that would be awesome. I am happy to send some screen shots if need be. Thanks in advance.

    • I’m really not familiar with the Camera Raw interface. The fact that it’s displaying in black leads me to think it may be a problem with OpenGL or your graphics drivers. Have you tried updating your video card drivers?

  • Bethany

    I appreciate this article! Thank you SO MUCH! The black background was driving me crazy. 🙂

  • John

    Hello, Is there a way to make the background go away entirely? I don’t like the colored background at all. When I open an image in Photoshop the only thing I want to see is my image itself. This was the way I had PS5 set up and all previous versions of PS. Thanks ahead of time.